Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Specialist vs The Multi Talented

“I can see only the eye” replied Arjun to Dronacharya.
What he meant was that I see nothing but my target. He went on to become one of the finest archers of all times.
The formula of success is this. You keep specialising in one field and start gaining proficiency in that. And finally, after a lot of practice, you become the master of it. The specialist.
All of us have seen such specialists around us. Sachin Tendulkar is a master batsman. A R Rahman is a renowned musician. Tim Tebow. Steven Spielberg. Lionel Messi.
Here I make a proposition. How many of us can think of specialising in more than one field. Specially, when we are already successful in that one field and concentrating on any other field would mean risking the specialization of the first field?
There are a few people who have taken the risk. The Polymaths. And their results are astounding.
Disclaimer: A couple of points before we proceed.
1. Being talented and being successful are two different things. You may be talented, yet not successful. You may be successful and yet not talented.
2.  Being talented and being happy are two different things. Likewise.
Here we are not comparing being happy / successful / famous with being talented. This article is solely concentrates on expanding our horizons and testing our mental limits in terms of capitalizing our talent.

Lets see a few examples of multi talented personalities.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias- This lady was a champion athlete. She has won many
Olympic medals in track and field events. She set five world records in the javelin throw, 80-meter hurdles, high jump and baseball throw in a single afternoon in 1932 Olympics. She gained fame and all-american status in basketball too.
Then she began to play golf. Eventually, she had won every golf title available. Totalling both her amateur and professional victories, Zaharias won a total of 82 golf tournaments.
This is not all. She was an excellent seamstress, she made many of the clothes she wore, including her golfing outfits. She won the South Texas State Fair championship in Beaumont in sewing. And if you are already amazed by now, you need to listen to this. She was a singer and a harmonica player too. She recorded several songs on the Mercury Records label. Her biggest seller was "I Felt a Little Teardrop" with "Detour" on the flip side !!
Kishore Kumar, the legend. Kishore Kumar is an Indian film playback singer and an actor who also worked as lyricist, composer, producer, director, screenwriter and scriptwriter.
A few more to name. Benjamin Franklin was an author, printer, politician, inventor and scientist whose scientific contributions have influenced physics and electricity. Leonardo Da Vinci was the Italian renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and a writer genius. Aristotle’s writings covered a plethora of subjects including metaphysics, poetry, physics, logic, music, theatre, rhetoric, government, politics, biology, ethics and zoology. He is credited with discoveries including the golden mean, reason, logic and syllogism.
The only crucial concern that a polymath always has to overcome is concentrating on two different fields at the same time, and thereby the risk of failing in the primary field.
And the fundamental benefit a polymath gets over a specialist is the lateral amplification of his talents, which a specialist will never be able to experience. He stays in his own field, all the time.
So, if you are doing well in your field, would you continue doing what you are doing. and be a specialist in that one field?
Or would you stop for a moment, look back and see if there is something else you would want to achieve. And take that risk and explore new possibilities? The choice will always be yours.
Because, of course, you only live once !!