How Being a Good Generalist Can Improve Your Professional Life

There is, all things told, a lot that gets said about the many different ways that individuals can improve their professional lives.

Typically, however, the emphasis is placed on various degrees of specialisation – and on how to become absolutely world-class at one or two particular disciplines or aspects of business, whether those relate to effective marketing, product ideation, or any number of other things.

Ultimately, though, there are many different potential aspects of any business, ranging from things like pmo to managing compelling customer communications.

According to David Epstein, author of the book “Range: Why Generalists Triumph In a Specialized World,” being a good generalist is, in many cases, actually the better path forward for professional and other forms of success.

Here are some ways being a good generalist can improve your professional life.



By giving you a good idea of how things fit together



Often, one of the best ways – maybe the only way – of seeing how things really fit together in a holistic context, is to have a good basic understanding of a broad range of different overlapping subject areas.

Being a good generalist, then, can help you to develop a better and more all-encompassing perspective of how the different components of a business fit together, but it can also have the same sort of effect on your personal life in a number of different ways.

Ultimately, any time you need to try and handle something that’s relatively complex and that overlaps with a number of different disciplines, you’ll be better able to understand the connections between things if you are a bit more of a generalist.



By allowing you to make connections and draw on insights that others might miss



In “Range,” one of the fascinating points the author makes is that skilled generalists are often able to find particular solutions to problems that others had simply overlooked altogether – because they are able to bring in insights from further afield.

Whenever you are highly specialised, and are trained and conditioned to only look at things in certain particular parameters and frameworks, there is a real risk that you will miss out on all sorts of potentially game changing insights and connections.

As a good overall generalist, certain things might seem quite obvious to you, even though they don’t really register with individuals with a more specialised perspective.



By letting you think outside the box more



Sometimes, it’s just necessary to think outside the box – such as, for example, any time you are looking for various forms of creative problem solving.

As being a good generalist will allow you to view things from many more different angles, it’s quite likely that it will also help you to think outside the box more, and to avoid some of the more common pitfalls that often keep people locked into quite narrow ways of doing things.

With a high capacity to think outside the box, your overall creativity might be substantially higher as well.

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