THE READER SOPHIE REFLECTS ON MY ARTICLE ON SPECIALISATION (‘HOW SELF-BRANDING KILLED CREATIVITY’) AND LOOKS AT IT FROM A POSITIVE ANGLE. SOPHIE SAYS:
‘Specialization can offer one job security as Canete explains… ‘if you brand yourself as a specialist in a particular field or subject, producing similar goods over and over again, you will become more efficient; and, as a result, you will be more desired by companies who need to fill a niche with your exact expertise’, it can also serve to instill an individual with sense of purpose and clarity; earn one respect from peers; impose limitations to work within and around, in turn potentially stimulating greater creativity; give structure to and simplify ones life and strengthen sense of identity; and, returning to the concept of purpose, it can mean one becomes an integral part – or in machinic terms a cog – of a community, workforce or even family – i.e.a machine – to give a sense of fulfillment and happiness, key to positive mental wellbeing.
I’m sure there are other positives that could be drawn from the act of specalisation, but these are what I can think of off the top of my head.
Of course often people for one reason or another – be it financial pressure, pressure from others (external stress), individual uncertainty (internal angst) or lack of choice – end up specialising in something they do not feel passionate about, or experience a drainage of passion through the process of repetition of their chosen specialism/lack of diversity within their worklife. But, how common is it now to hear stories of 30-somethings (and older) deciding upon a complete career change, often despite having a good job with promising future prospects? This is actually pretty unique if you look back in history, and could be an indication of value shift, combined with the fact that for the Western majority there is much wider choice over career paths than past generations had (something I’m sure many a grandparent will remind any grand-child to be grateful of.)
So why not specialize? Well as the saying goes, diversity is the spice of life, and as Cantene points out, it can result in monotony (which like to holds hands with apathy and dissatisfaction – quite a concoction of negativity to poison the mind!) and I agree with Cantene in identifying the dangers/downfalls of specialization are that one hold on so tightly to their self-branding that they suppress their own potential for the sake of appearances. My problem with this article is that whilst it speaks many truths, it would appear to suggest you become less ‘genius’ by specializing, which is highly questionable without even touching upon the argument of defining ‘genius’. Nor do I think specialising reduces your uniqueness and individuality. And furthermore, critical thinking is a transferable skill.
My concern with specialisation lies within the realm of personal wellbeing. For some people specialization may have positive influence on their life, for others it may not. For some specialization is a matter of choice whereas for others it is not, all of which has impacts on the individual (and in turn the wider community.)
Besides, isn’t it when people place too great an importance on how individual and unique they appear that they smack of ‘fabrication’?’