For years I’ve thought that the way to truly be successful and influential in your field(s) was to specialize – experts would always best Jack of all trades, masters of none.
Yet I quickly realized I had so many interests, genuine passions, for so many different fields that didn’t necessarily coordinate well together.
In high school, I’d be deeply interested in chemistry and math classes and how the world worked, my favorite class still was acting, and yet I received the top English award.
After class, I’d balance basketball practice with musical theatre rehearsals and violin orchestra practice. I constantly wondered whether I was spreading myself too thin, and I also realized I was never truly able to be the best in any one field.
I ended up dropping the basketball team out of lack of dedication, I felt like an imposter leading my high school strings orchestra as concertmaster for 3-years, and when I played Scar in Lion King I couldn’t help but have a lingering feeling of regret that I sacrificed basketball to sing. Why couldn’t I be like Troy Bolton?
Now I am at another semi-crossroads.
Am I the magician?
The philosopher, daily blogger?
Will I work on Wall Street and run a hedge fund, trading stocks, and options?
Or will I dive into academic economic research and cure poverty – my all-time goal?
I don’t have the answer, but I think I’ve come up with a path: I am my own niche
Specialization worked in the days of Henry Ford assembly lines, and yes it still works today too
But there’s something to be said about the creativity of bringing in interdisciplinary skills and disciplines
The most recent book I’ve been reading dives deeper into this concept of Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.
Steve Jobs famously cited his Chinese calligraphy class for giving him the inspiration for pioneering Apples typography and design
Roger Federer didn’t specialize in tennis until much later than his peers, and in fact, might have learned towards soccer at one point in his childhood
And Lindt chocolate brought together dark chocolate and spices to create something new, unique, and not necessarily specialized but surely special
There’s ultimately nothing wrong with specialization, and equally nothing wrong with having a broad range of skills.
I hope to find a balance between both practices so that I can further build bridges between philosophy and business.