Five great things about being a generalist

How to be Everything celebrates people who don’t have one true calling, one passion or one specialist career. Multipotentialites are people “with many interests and creative pursuits”, sometimes also known as generalists, jack-of-all-trades, or renaissance people.

A multi-hyphen career or portfolio career are great for multipotentialites, by allowing them to either work part-time in different jobs which juggle their several interests, work sequentially through the list of careers they’re drawn to, or throw together different interests and combine them into one job or business. Emilie writes in detail about the different types of multipotentialite.

Regardless of how you like to work, Emilie believes that by being a generalist, you have some key qualities that differentiate you from a specialist.

Idea Synthesis
“…combining two or more concepts and creating something new at the intersection.” 

By drawing on a multipotentialite’s different interests and perspectives, an original concept can be born.

Rapid Learning
“…we understand how it feels to be a beginner…we are passionate about the things that fascinate us…we rarely start from scratch when pursuing a new interest, since many skills are transferable across disciplines.” 

The ability to learn quickly comes from practising learning new things regularly, and multipotentialites are practised in learning because they follow their interests.

Adaptability
“…multipotentialites can make ourselves at home in many settings and roles…being adaptable makes us more resilient in an unstable and quickly evolving economy.” 

Through being willing and able to competently switch between different tasks, generalists become really valuable to employers.

Big-Picture Thinking
“…multipotentialites are able to see how individual ideas connect to the wider world. We are big-picture thinkers who enjoy brainstorming, conceiving of lofty projects, and thinking up ways in which we can make things better.”

By having experience in various, potentially unrelated projects and sectors, multipotentialites can create links between subjects and spot gaps too.

Relating and Translating
“…our varied experiences give us the ability to relate to people from different walks of life, and our intense curiosity makes us good listeners…we can help people relate to one another by translating between them. Multipotentialites often find ourselves interacting with specialists at work, and our ability to converse in each of their “languages” is an incredible asset.”

One example of this is a project manager, who is the central point connecting different work streams and specialists, translating information between people and orchestrating everyone in order to deliver a project.

Are you a specialist or a generalist? How do you align with these qualities? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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