How many of you would label yourself as a generalist? Someone who is pretty good at quite a few things but not a jedi at any one thing?
How many of you give yourself a hard time for this?
How many of you think that if you don’t have your ONE THING nailed down at a young age that you’re behind the curve?
It seems that society has a fixation with specialising. They point to the world’s most successful people as examples of why going deep in one area is a must if you want to earn the big bucks.
Well, until the age of about 31 I was the archetypal ‘jack of all trades’. By the age of 26 I had done 26 types of job -in case you think I was incredibly flaky, that doesn’t mean I had 26 employers, but performed lots of tasks for each one.
A few examples involve: gardening, plumbing, truck driving, property maintenance, property management, electrical engineering (true story) and ski instructing.
It wasn’t until aged 26 that I got my first ‘proper job’. One that sort of, vaguely, maybe, perhaps justified my University Degree. It was for an electrical engineering business in Australia, one which I would end up managingEven during these years I was a bit ‘spread out’. I did business development, marketing, sales, contract negotiating, recruiting, project management, document writing and even the odd bit of office management.
So, after countless jobs in widely varying sectors, across different trades and industries and on different continents, I finally homed in on my ONE THING.
Why am I sharing my vocational life story with you? For this simple reason, to make any generalists out there feel better about the course their life has taken up to this point.
I settled on my one thing in my early 30’s. Some of you may settle earlier and some later.
Yes I do believe that if you’re going to be truly successful you should have a clear focus. A definitive mission and perfect customer whom you are inspired to serve. What I don’t agree with is how early on in life this needs to take place or the fact that being a generalist of any sort is merely not doing anything properly.
I can say with 100% certainty that I wouldn’t be person or the entrepreneur I am today -take that how you wish - without my broad experience.
I wouldn’t have the clear purpose, or the knowledge I have, having not chartered the convoluted path the way I did.
Our passions and purpose are derived from our experiences, not the other way around. So don’t deprive yourself of the epic amounts of interesting experiences available to you!