I just read this article, Generalists versus Specialists, and have shared it like a million places because it uncovered this simple yet buried insecurity that I think I have been carrying around for years. Carrying it around not just in my professional life, but in my personal life as well.
I am not a specialist or an expert. Through and through I am a generalist. And I always felt ashamed of that. I have diverse interests and skills and areas of study. It has allowed me diversity and freedom in life and opportunity, but that I never had the context to present as a valuable skill set. Though I liked being eclectic, I never felt like I fit in anywhere, I never felt like I could demand a title or salary because everyone wants to hire an expert. Right?
The phrase “jack of all trades but master of none” echoed through my head on a daily basis. Just tearing down my self confidence and causing me to second guess my cover letters and resumes.
Then, this article entered my life, and I so deeply identified with the generalist skills set and approach. For the first time I read something that articulated just how generalists were skilled, needed, and in some circumstances more valuable than a specialist. I saw how generalists were more than unfocused potential specialists, but how they simply were offering a different set of skills. They have a different value add.
I used to say, “I am a mess of contradictions” but now I can confidently say, I am an eclectic person who experiences many things in life, has diverse interests, enjoys learning many things, sets my own goals, and can see the connections that others tend to miss.
So now, I am ready to rewrite my cover letter, with my new found skill set. The skills that allow me to see the big picture, brainstorm outside the box (yeah, I know, I hate the phrase too), and bring together and provide a bridge to specialists.