Specialization is for insects.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” Robert Heinlein, through Lazarus Long, one of his characters.

I thought of it because a lot of the business literature preaches focus as a key to success, both personally and as a business. Core competencies, sticking to knitting, whatever you call it, it adds up to bad advice (at least for individuals).

In marketing, focus is great. A tight message focused on the right audience is immensely powerful. If writing a resume or an ad, it’s great advice. But it’s no way to live.
I admit it, I can’t do everything in the paragraph above. I can’t plan an invasion, conn a ship, or design a building. Some of the others may be arguable. But I don’t consider myself a specialist, in any case.
Write a book, start a company, learn to play a musical instrument, cook a meal or three, and get up to speed on a technology you may or may not have immediate use for. It’s easier than planning an invasion, and more fun than specializing.

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