Generalists vs Specialists

I was sitting down in the dark with three unlikely people.  Four, if you count the kid among us who was tugging his dad’s sleeve asking “when can we go… what time is it?”

Myself, nice middle class white American.  Albanian immigrant college student and general smartass.  Ugandan immigrant soccer coach and student.  Hondurian… and it turns out I don’t know what he does as work.

We were sitting there because we unlikely birds have managed to find ourselves with no other friends on a Wednesday and an unusual hankering to play soccer.  “Where are you friends” I asked one of them, and he pointed to the other two and myself, then tapped his chest.  Here you are are.  Here I am.

And so we had played 2v2, a poor option but better than nothing, and were then sitting down, doing nothing.  Nothing but discussing a very convoluted and confusing topic.

Is it better to be the best scorer and become famous for it leading yourself and your team to glory, or is it better to be “good at everything?”  Is “good at everything” a catch all phrase meaning “not very good” at scoring, a “fill-in” as they say.

This hinges on an earlier soccer debate this year.  Is there such a thing as dominating?  If you have fabulous team cameraderie, and wondering passing, but poor scoring can you be outplayed by an inferiorly picked team with better scorers?  By a simple number you will clearly be “losing.”  Does that mean you are “worse.”   It’s hard to say.

The person who is scoring has been set up, by those possessing talent to create opportunities, assists they call it, but that person receives little credit.  The person who assisted the assister receives none.

Should you then be the generalist, the person who must manage the rest of the team, or should you hone those skills specifically that lead you to stand out.

In life it seems that the specialists is certainly the one that makes the money taking an illustration from the health care field.  The surgeon, whether it be brain or cosmetic is the one that makes the money.  The general practitioner is the one that lives in anonymity merely continuing to promote the good health of those around him.  How do we give credit to both?  Should we?

If some people in the benefit of the good of all give up their own hope for fame or greater fortune should there be a reward?  Is there anyway to smooth out the differences in these relationships or must there always be a tug of competition in complicated societies like this.

Seeing as my own path of life has created me to be a generalist rather than a specialist I am prejudiced on that side.  I see the role that I play in life, one of connection, as a way of mediating different social circles.  I don’t play soccer fabulously, I am not knowledgeble about particular branches of literature, psychology, theology, philosopy, health or nutrition, I can’t wax rhapsodic about the latest indie rock bands. But I know the people who can do those things, and I can connect you to them.  I am a generalist.  I know enough of some things to allow me to do more things.  I work fairly hard, but not too hard, in order to avoid classification.

At times this leads to yearning for a niche, but at times it creates a world of rich interdiscipline.


Author: Beth M

I love new ideas & information, connecting people, and discovering New England adventures.

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