Why Being a Specialist Can Hurt Your Career Success

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For a long time, we’ve been saying maximize our professional utility. We must concentrate our efforts on being really good at one thing.

Soon, specialization reigned With few exceptions, most desired professionals in their fields were those who were the best at what they did. The best engineers were the ones who got the a Y . The best quants were those who got the jobs at Renaissance and SAC. Top chefs worked at Noma and Per Se. This maxim was fulfilled in most fields and therefore people were encouraged to become Really good in one field at the expense of all the others. In fact, there was a specialization within the specialization. You were no longer an engineer, you were a DevOps engineer. You were no longer a chef, you were a pastry chef. And any time that was spent not perfecting that area of ​​expertise was a waste of time.

Related: Is it really that important to focus on a specific niche?

And while, historically, those people were well paid, lately, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. In fact, these days, typecasting Your talent for a specialty can actually stand in the way of acclaim, accolades, and the associated monetary gains. Why is that? Neither neither he was the best engineer in his organizations. They weren’t the best directors either. Or the best designers. Or really the best at anything. However, they developed a high level of expertise in multiple, often disparate fields of knowledge. There are few out there like steve workswho was at once a gifted designer, a product visionary, an amazing judge of talent, and an inspiring (if difficult) manager.

Interestingly, our educational system and cultural fabric often encourage people to be really good at one thing at the expense of everything else. In the meantime, studies suggest are those who embrace a diversity of interests who achieve the greatest feats in , science and the arts. This practice, known as skill stacking, posits that it’s much more unusual to be in the top 10% on several widely disparate skills than it is in the top 1% on just one. ability. The more different the skills, the less likely you are to find people who reflect the same mix of experience. That can make an individual not only unique in terms of what they can do, but also more likely to see problems and situations from a unique perspective. While most entrepreneurs in the computing space approached it from a perspective Background, Jobs approached it from both an engineering and a design perspective. He in turn, he was able to build something that those with a narrower engineering frame of reference simply weren’t equipped to do.

Therefore, the prescription for any aspiring world-shaking entrepreneur is a simple two-pronged process that first encompasses diversity of interests and then goes one step further to intentionally cultivate new interests.

Related: Why Being A Specialist In Your Field Isn’t Enough In Today’s Fast-Evolving Workplace

Embrace your various interests

Too often, when talking to emerging entrepreneurs, they admit, with no small measure of shame, who also have hobbies that seem to have no direct application to the business they are building. They quickly assure me that they only visit those hobbies infrequently, in brief downtimes from the all-consuming effort to build their businesses. It’s hard not to wince when you hear this all-too-common refrain. While not always immediately apparent, it is often those exact interests that help inform the core of what makes your product different and special. A fintech entrepreneur with a passing interest in human behavior. The latter will almost certainly inform their product vision critically to differentiate them from their competitors. Diverse interests do not prevent success. Instead, they are often a rationale for success.

Commit to learning something new

almost everyone has some Hobby they’ve put off for a long time because they just “don’t have enough time. Between our business, our friends, family, and whatever other obligations we might take on, there are never enough hours in the day. From hustle culture propaganda, the idea of Spending five hours a week to learn something unrelated to your business may seem borderline criminal. Every entrepreneur should disabuse themselves of that notion and commit to a minimum of five hours each week investing in something they’d like to do but put off long ago. a long time. At worst, these investments will give your mind a much-needed reprieve from the work of building a business. At best, you’ll learn things and have eureka moments that inform what you build and, with almost surprising frequency, they end up leading to key differentiators.

As entrepreneurs, we all have the ambition to build life-changing businesses. But truly innovative and original ideas are hard to find. Many smart people are devoting their energy to trying to come up with the next big thing. Someone who has spent every waking moment studying finance is not as likely to think of anything very different than the tens of thousands of others who have done the same. But suppose the same person spends time in finance alongside interpretive dance, social psychology, and architecture. In that case, they are much more likely to have a perspective shared by few, if any, others. These other aspects of your life will inevitably affect your approach to building a piece of fintech.

So the next time you feel guilty about reading some psychology textbook or signing up for an interpretive dance class, realize that these things are not distractions, but can be the path to achieving your entrepreneurial dreams.

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