Specialization is for insects

Robert A. Heinlein once said:

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.

There are many things I can’t do on Heinlein’s list, but being able to butcher a hog and design a building are beside the point. What’s important is living like Benjamin Franklin and not specializing on only one skill. Being good at a single thing makes you a replaceable cog. Since factories are fading, so are people who can only do one thing really well.

It’s better to be a linchpin–to be indispensable because of all the disparate things you know. Being able to write, code, run, hike, work a compass, chop wood, create a spreadsheet, recite a sonnet, and deliver a killer presentation shouldn’t be extraordinary. Just because I can’t design a building doesn’t mean I’ll never be able to do so. I need to be willing to learn, and with willingness comes many possibilities.

There has never been a better time in history to learn, which means everyone can be a “Renaissance Person.”

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