Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Generalist

In his autobiography, famed economist Roger Babson recounts seeing Booker T. Washington speak in Massachusetts, and how he applied his lessons to his own life;  
"He told of his industrial work at Tuskegee, and how he made his students independent. His system was very simple. He tried to make each student a real specialist at something...Booker T. Washington made the point that as soon as a man knows anyone subject (no matter how insignificant) better than anyone else in his community, his success is assured...The next day I gave Booker T. Washington's address careful consideration. I thought over the statistical field with the idea of developing the plan of work...In view of what Booker Washington had said, the thought occurred to me that one person, with some assistance, who concentrated on this one job, could do it more efficiently and at much less cost to each house if he did it for the entire group. This was the idea that gave me a start."

I've never been one who is solely dedicated to a single pursuit, a hobby, a game or otherwise.  As a kid, I played a variety of sports, collected baseball cards, sold worms for fishing, had pets, collected bottle caps in a peanut butter pail (frequent washing turned it into a rust collection).  There are a few authors who I've read everything by them I can get my hands on, but it usually doesn't go beyond enjoying what they've written into their lives or studying the works. 

Even now I'm reading two books (non-fiction), following more than 30 blogs (from technology and design to music, disability, money), blogging here, querying freelance markets, planning my garden (which includes seeds, automatic watering, rain barrels, composting, raised beds and convincing my wife to let me do all of these things), training for 3 5k races and 1 leg of a triathlon for which I'm contemplating making custom addition to my handlebars out of wood.  I also have plans to learn guitar, Joomla, databases, soldering, circuitry, and sewing and considering a solo sprint triathlon.  This on top of working full time, and being a parent and husband.

I've accepted that I'm a generalist, I know a little about a lot, with a smattering of a fair bit about a little.  I stopped writing at my old blog, Maine VRC because it was too focused, too niche.  My career has given me expertise in the field of disability and rehabilitation.  While I will still write about disability topics and accessibility, it won't be the in the majority.

I'm still finding my feet here at this new domain, trying out a few voices and playing with ideas.  This is something that probably will never change, and neither will my being a generalist.  Hopefully, the blog world still has room for generalists.

Babson, Roger W. (1950) Actions and Reactions; Autobiography of Roger W. Babson, Second Ed.  P98-99 retrieved from

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