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Being both a specialist and a generalist helps!

Being both a specialist and a generalist helps!

Well, yes. I am a specialist on toxins produced by micro-organisms in food. I specialized in a particular subject. That really sounds weird. Because that doesn't make me an absolute specialist. I am a relative specialist because there are several microbes and the toxins produced by them are different. I am a myco-toxicologist, because I specialized in mycotoxins, i.e., toxins produced by fungi. And I am not a specialist on all toxins produced by fungi. I studied in detail only toxins produced by fungi in food. That is super-speciality. That makes my field very narrow. Woof! In all other things I am just as good as any other layman.

Am I? Wait a minute. I think I am better than many laymen. Because, I specialized in general in Biological sciences by doing my masters in life sciences. Before that I did my graduation with Chemistry, Physics and Biology as my special subjects.  In the beginning, at school, I studied both arts and sciences. I passed through generalization before entering specialization. When I entered the field of art when I was a child and became a self-taught or life-taught graduate in the subjects of both visual art as well as literature, my generalization increased. Then, I started experimenting in several other fields like designing, learning about journalism by making this network into an online journal, by learning social skills, and...I became a total human being.

Yes, now I am both a specialist and a generalist. When I combined all my skills I  became somebody really special because my world is no longer narrow, it grew to such a size that my entire view of the universe changed so much that I became a new species of the mind!

This really helps in understanding the world from a new and special points of view and my world has become very broad. And who says a specialist's world becomes narrow?

Generalists tend to have a broad range of skills and experiences across a range of disciplines within their field, while specialists invest time and effort in becoming the go-to person in a certain niche. Usually, specific skills are valued more because they are more difficult to teach. Having a range of different experiences and skill sets can allow people to identify what their ideal role would be over time, and then look for specialist careers. Generalist skills are  useful in becoming  good leaders and trend setters because the skills help in dealing with different people efficiently. A generalist will be able to thrive in a wide variety of conditions and can make use of a variety of different resources.

Recently I read this online (1): What’s the difference between a generalist and a specialist? A generalist knows less and less about more and more until eventually he or she knows nothing about everything. A specialist knows more and more about less and less until eventually he or she knows everything about nothing. Being either a generalist or a specialist is useless, and anyone trying to be both at the same time inevitably self-destructs.

I think this is a dumb and old argument said by people who cannot understand how to gain and utilize the knowledge obtained properly. A generalist can know more and more about more and more of various things if s/he is really interested in learning things and acquiring knowledge. S/he becomes more stronger and stronger mentally. A specialist can learn as much as possible in the subject s/he is specializing in and become very confident.  Both processes deal with gaining knowledge.  Then one can bring the vast amount of knowledge one gathers to creatively connect things  and bring benefit to various fields one is working in.

And when the situation demands it, a specialist can use the large amount of knowledge gathered in a single subject for specific purposes to help the world. It all depends on how well one can manage and differentiate things depending on the needs of the world around you.

I didn't self-destruct myself by being both a generalist and specialist. On the contrary, I flourished and reached the pinnacle of intellectualism! A mind broadened by vast knowledge can never go back to its original size!



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Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on December 2, 2014 at 6:39am


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