Specializing in Managing the Generalist’s Activities?

Are you among the people who are perennially in a flow? Mihalyi, who popularized the word in the context of peak performance, spirituality and motivation would have meant it that way, but I mean something that comes closer to FLUX. Being in a flux is not as flummoxing as it sounds. But then you have to be the one in the flow in order to know it for sure.

Well, the word associations for my flavor of flow are – dynamism, multiple streams, fluid, currents, momentum, rapids, serene waters between the banks… now here we hit the rapids, careful!

If you are – assume for a moment – in a flow, then you’d have multiple things happening together. I know, you’d say, all of us have our schedules, don’t we? One does not need to be a grown up in order to have a schedule!

What sets apart the one in the flow is the variety of things that flow together – many of them create a sense of apparent contrast for some viewers. But the flow takes it all very fluidly in its fold.

So, if you meet one next, just ask what they are doing in the coming week and they’d tell you some five things entirely unrelated – field work, dancing, cooking, earning, loafing on the social networking site, house keeping,  writing – to start with.

Oh, big deal – some experienced people would say, why use new words for the old stuff? This one is a generalist – the jack of all trades, (master of …). So, here’s one other sign of knowing if you are the one in the flow – it kind of pinches when you hear the jack … stuff.

What is the benchmark for mastery? Is it a point or a process? I guess one kind of continues to rediscover meanings of mastery, doesn’t one?

And the contrasts? I think it would be kind of easy to be a specialist. You select a field and keep on knowing more and more, doing more and more, but it’s all about the same thing, or similar things or things that fit in the tight knitting of the central interest.

The energy required for the flow is so different – though usually the flow suggests a sequential, linear movement, in the word of existence, it becomes circular – you might master something, but you discover more heights, so you start your trek again. And then for each such field of mastery, there would be at least ten others in various shades of expertise and some where you are just learning the ropes.

So, how does the life feel for the one in the flow?? How about juggling not just the activities, but their sheer breadth of variation, and then doing the daily aerobics to keep the ego flexible enough to exit the masterly space and get on the beginner’s glasses with ease for self and others. Imagine doing these simultaneously – reading a document submitted by someone, responding to a request of a colleague and drafting a presentation to be made to a senior – and quickly catching up with the changes on your social networking page.. inside the head, the streams flow – the “writing” becomes one bundle, gets placed along with work in the home, chatting up a young son or daughter and welcoming guests.

It surely needs a lot of ambidexterity, I say! This ambidexterity would reflect in one’s ability to live life to its fullest possible, lived rationally and arationally, straddling the hard and the soft side, minding success and throwing the caution to the wind, accomplishing and learning…This FULL is very different from the specialist’s FULL, isn’t it?

I would say that by this definition, a specialist is not only the one who knows more and more about less and less, but also the one who specializes in zipping a wide range of interests and activities together meaningfully in a single portfolio called life.

What say you?


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