What do you do?
Learning to embrace career munge
Social media. Digital. Fintech. Consultant. Innovation. Product. Strategy. Client partner. Director. All words I’ve used to describe myself over the past 10 years of working and all essentially meaningless. In short I’m a generalist and am happy regardless of label, so long as I’m doing good work with good people.
Oh you do that too? Sorry, I didn’t realise
Being a generalist is brilliant because you can float from task to task, getting small things finished and guiding big things in the right direction. You learn from everyone and add value all over.
Being a generalist is rubbish because nobody knows how to ‘bring you in’. Your lack of defined edges means you slip through the various corporate cracks and wind up feeling aggrieved when 3rd party experts are brought in to do things you know you’re capable of.
So you’re like, a designer?
Being a generalist is important because the only constant is change, so being able to adapt, pick up new hard skills and hone soft skills is key. When the dust settles and patterns emerge you can move on to the next challenge.
Being a generalist is pointless as you lack a cohesive narrative. Your LinkedIn reads like a random word generator and you squirm with envy when colleagues unveil deep pockets of expertise and credibility.
Being a generalist is galling because it requires a lack of ego that sometimes means you’re the one arranging the table rather than making the toast. Hard lines around what you’ll do (and more importantly, not do) can carry you to higher levels as you’re less likely to get caught in mid-management soup.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Worrying about being a generalist is ultimately pointless. Over a long enough time period anything can become a constant. For me that constant is the ability to take in lots of information and translate it into some kind of valuable output, be it people, software or words.
Generalism is a craft, a skill as deep as any other. The ability to adapt but also to know when to stay rigid is something I regularly get wrong but find exhilarating when I get right.
There’s no real point to this post other than to capture what I’m thinking right now. It was inspired by this video about Childish Gambino and his refusal to fit into a box — it’s a great watch.