Thought-tober: Specialization

The specialist vs. the generalist.
The Master vs. the Jack of All Trades.

Humans are the ultimate generalist. We can do just about everything relatively well but aren’t designed for mastery in any one thing. We are better at some things and worse at others but as a general rule we have survived and thrived as generalists. We are still alive as a species because we are adaptable, flexible and decent at enough things to get by in the world, despite the earth’s best efforts to make it tough sometimes.

As we have evolved, but particularly in the last few decades, we have shown this desire to achieve mastery. You name it, we have tried or are trying to master it. Education, food, finances, the body, flight, technology, math, piano, yo-yo’s, language, the brain, fitness and anything else you can think of are all being mastered by people expending constant and consistent time, energy, money and effort.

Are we making things any better?

Do we choose specialty wisely? How many specialties are wild goose chases?

Should a generalist species be so obsessed with striving for and encouraging specialization which is not out genetic strength? Or should we spend more time advancing the generalist characteristics, which may not be as groundbreaking to the whole but might be more helpful to each individual?

Masters are wonderful and I appreciate their skill, discipline and uniqueness. I just hope they (and we) remember that humans are generalists by nature. Something’s gotta give when a jack of all trades pursues mastery. What’s going to give? Time and the individual will tell.

Specialists might thrive in the short term, particularly if the environment matches their skill set, but they are much more likely to go extinct in the long run, especially if the tides turn.

Trying to master your diet, fitness or health? What are you giving up in the process? Is the pursuit of mastery going to be worth the sacrifice of giving up your overall generalist status?

Thanks for thinking, have a great day!


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