You might be a generalist if...
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💬 What if you were born to follow a squiggly line, a generalist path, not a linear, specialized one?
The world of work is not as traditional as it used to be. There are so many ways to be “successful” other than the 9-5 career, rigid ladder. And for those of us generalists who don’t want to specialize, I want you to know that you can have a successful, squiggly, meandering career full of meaning and purpose by embracing your generalist nature. I know this, because I'm seeing it play out in the community every week.
You’re trying to figure out "what do I really want to do", or "what job am I going to get”?
But you also know that the world isn’t like it was for your parents or grandparents, where you can get and hold the same job for thirty years (and tbh, if you’re like me, the idea of doing the same thing for thirty years sounds kinda terrible.. 😅)
We're all navigating a world that looks very different than it did a few years ago. The concept of the university major, the career ladder, of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” - is all designed for specialists.
But us generalists, we often want to meander, not climb. Why is that? And how can we find our path?
🤺 You might be a generalist if…..
You love learning new things and you know how to learn. This means you often don’t need direct experience to do something new; you naturally can apply your hypothetical problem-solving, lateral thinking or conceptual reasoning skills to a new challenge.
You’d rather have new challenges than deep mastery. Projects lose their excitement after a while, because you’re not interested in going as deep as possible; you want to explore widely.
Your skills are a means to an end; for example, you might learn to code because you want to make something, not because you love coding itself
You’re an expert at “connecting the dots” and at lateral thinking, applying lessons from one area to a different one. Your work is broad, not deep, so you apply skills from all kinds of experiences to your work.
You’re comfortable with ambiguity, with not knowing the answer, or there being no/unclear answers.
All these strengths make you incredibly adaptable. There's a common misconception that a generalist has no specialty. To the contrary - to be a generalist IS a specialty. We specialize in connecting the dots, lateral thinking and in 'figuring it out quickly'. We thrive at the intersection of disciplines, and sinking our teeth into complex problems that require the ability to zoom-out and see the big picture.
Folks in our community have a wildly impressive range of domain strengths, always being united by our curious generalist natures.
You’ve heard that phrase “a jack of all trades is a master of none”, right?
This is a reminder that the full phrase is “a jack of all trades, is a master of none, but is oftentimes better than a master of one.”
So whether you're meandering, floating, catapulting, or dancing your way to your next career point, I'm here for you. I wish someone had said to me, as I was embarking on my decade long career of twists, turns and very unusual job titles that: really, it's okay to be different 😀
I'll leave you with that thought. Till next time, I’m cheering for you!