I always thought how fun it would be to become the world’s foremost expert on something. I can see the newscast attribution:

Dr. Tom Kershaw, leading expert on 10th Century Viking expansion into Eastern Europe. 

There I would be, in the middle of some arcane diatribe on Cnut the Great and the population explosion of the Slavs in Kievan Rus’ after 1100.

I would probably be quite giddy and nervous, as there is no reason I can think of that an expert on this matter would ever be on a newscast—perhaps if there was some revolutionary archeological finding in Poland.

Maybe my time has passed. I’m sort of a journalist now, and my expertise is supposed to be sounding like an expert in anything and everything—like Will Durant. Ever heard of this guy? He traveled the world 7 or 8 times before the 1930s and ended up writing a 9-volume history of the humanity called The Story of Civilization. It goes from pre-history in Africa through all the great empires of Rome, China, Mongolia, Persia, etc.—all the way up to Napoleon. He died before he could get any further. And each volume is 1,000 pages or more—very well written as well.

You’d be tempted to think: this guy knows everything! But just imagine how much he left out. Really, in the entire scope of human history, nine, 1,000-page volumes probably glosses over most of details. Now that I think of it, there was only passing mention of the Vikings. It’s cool though, it’s not like they helped shape Europe, and thus Western civilization or anything.

Anyway… This little musing is brought to you by THEE’s Interacting for Benefit framework. More specifically, the spiral of career development and even more specifically than that, stage 3: Commit to a Path.

Committing to a path is basically specialization, which seems more and more difficult in this post-modern world. I see it in the music business. Every musician now must be a multi-instrumentalist, a sound engineer, a fashionista, tour bus driver, promoter and social media manager. And as a writer/blogger, you’ve got to be able to write as well as take into account social media, SEO, promotions and networking.

That being the case, it might be more important than ever that we remind ourselves to really hone-in on something specific. For example, I spent much of my earlier years as a professional musician advertising myself as “that multi-instrumentalist guy.” I was the guy you call in a pinch when your bassist or drummer of guitarist can’t make the gig. It was a lot of fun—and it could be argued that this is a form of specialization all its own—but it’s rather limiting in terms of long-term projects. As it turns out, there are quite a few guitarists, bassists, pianists, etc. who are quite a bit better at their chosen instrument than me and therefore, they are more desirable options for musical entrepreneurs trying to put together something solid and potentially more lucrative in the future.

It might not matter much for many of us by stage 3. Not completing all 7 stages of career development doesn’t mean you are, or will be, a failure. Many of us do just fine in life after mastering stage 1: Do the Job Well.

But everyone is different. For my part, without knowing anything about THEE, it was my intention to skip Stage 2: Work the System by striking out on my own as a freelance writer. And I did for a time. But by joining TOP and confronting the newness of THEE as well as the specifics of the job, I've been thrust back to Stage 1: Do the Job Well. Yet, I maintain other clients and continue my education, hoping to ultimately find my niche--which might end up being THEE. Or political analysis. Or fiction. Or songwriting... and I'm back to where I was as the "mile wide and an inch deep" guy that defined my music career.

Now, for me, the challenge is stage 3. I guess it’s time to get my ducks in a row. Even any Viking worth his salt had to specialize in something: sailing, pillaging… skull cup manufacturing.

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