“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” Robert Heinlen
In olden times people were encouraged to produce creative work in their daily lives. A man would build his house, plant his garden, paint landscapes, write sonnets, perform music, and make all types of household goods like furniture, belts and brandy. The world was full of people with interesting skills, and they were celebrated for their wide-ranging talents.
A Renaissance Man, as he would be called, could do it all, and with flair. A Renaissance Man was an artist, athlete, carpenter, mechanic, medic, musician, poet, philosopher and writer. Depending on the situation, he could also be a gentleman, a rascal, a fighter or an imp.
But he was never just one thing. He was all things (*She was too, but for the sake of brevity I’m using the masculine form. Ladies, you can be a Renaissance woMan too).
Then along came the 80’s and everything changed. You had to specialize. Nobody was interested in you being “well rounded”. No one wanted you to look “distinctive”. You could have a mustache but no beard, and short hair wasn’t allowed. You had to choose between a feathered wave parted down the middle, or a mullet (business up front, party in the back). Big hair was mandatory (*ladies, you had big hair too, but please substitute panty hose for Mullet).
This era brought in the idea that creative men (*yeah, yeah, you get the drill) were focused. They specialized so they could become expert in one area. You needed to know a lot about a very few things to be useful. If you knew a little about a lot of things, you were a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. Very bad thing. Not the path to success. Continue reading Why You Should Stop Specializing and Become a Jack of All Trades