Lebron James is a beloved individual (outside of Cleveland). He parties, he endorses stuff, and he certainly isn’t short on cash and why is this? Because he’s spectacularly good at one thing. The man is debatably one of the best basketball players of all time and it’s clearly paying dividends. Society is riddled with examples like this; individuals who excel above and beyond others at a single thing. We are also taught, frequently, that hard-work and studious effort in one particular endeavor will make us exceptional individuals.
But growing up, one of my favorite concepts was the “Renaissance Man”. While politically incorrect, the concept was that an admirable quality in a person was possession of… well… all admirable qualities. These individuals would study math, science, history, art, language, and politics, never mastering one but acquiring a deep and interested knowledge of all of them. In a society of specialists and specialized economies, this is a concept that, unfortunately, has fallen by the wayside.
But I’m here to carry its standard. A recent article on 99u entitled Picasso, Kepler, and the Benefits of Being an Expert Generalist noted the myriad benefits to scientific and creative professionals that stem from a broad range of knowledge. The understanding of many topics allows one to draw analogies in other topics, spurring creativity and innovation. Even on a personal level, the idea of being a Generalist is a powerful one. When you think of adjectives to describe yourself or a list of your favorite hobbies, do they all follow a streamlined career or interest path? No. You love many things and so do I.
So embrace that. Get curious and learn about everything that interests you. Do it patiently and with conviction and see the world the way it was meant to be seen: as a proud and sophisticated Renaissance person. You’ll be more interesting and more interested, see and learn things you never thought you would, and enrich your life. Wave your standard high brethren and tell the man where to shove it in two different languages, three different mediums, and with a well-written but emotionally subtle haiku.
Keep an eye here for tips on how to successfully generalize yourself in the coming weeks.