Friday, October 28, 2011

Axiom 13: Jack of All Trades, Master of None

"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."
-Robert Heinlein 
"There are three classes of people: Those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see." -Leonaro da Vinci

I've had a lot of hobbies over the course of my life. Now I could sit here and list some of them, but let's just say I've dabbled in enough topics that I'm sure we share some interests in common. I didn't really set out to be this way. It just seems to be the bi-product of the fact I get bored too easily. I'll usually discover some new subject, get a white hot passion for it for a few weeks or months, and then become totally bored with it and move onto something else.

I think this has really worked my advantage in life. It has opened the world up to me and allowed me to connect with more people. Chances are I can walk up to someone whether they are a trash collector or a CEO and relate to them.

Stop and think for a moment about the people you normally talk to each day. What do you talk to them about? Can you only talk to Bob about baseball? Is the only thing on Jane's mind politics? Is Jim a wealth of knowledge on multiple subjects? What do you know that people talk to you about?

When I meet someone new I always poke around the surface for clues about what they are interested in. This especially works well in a business environment when I go to someone's office. I scan for college degree's, pictures, trophies, and any other personal tidbits I can spot. The more obscure the subject I can connect with someone about the stronger the connection I can build with that person. 

Here's another example: In my office I have a clock with the Yuengling Lager logo on it. It is my favorite beer but unfortunately is not sold anywhere here in Texas. That means the people around here really don't have a clue what Yuengling is unless they are either from the East Coast or are knowledgeable about beer. So time after time I've gotten responses like, "I love that beer back home", or "I wish they sold that beer here". It has been a great conversation starter and consistently gives me something more interesting to connect with people on beside the weather or sports. 

From now on make a conscious effort to pursue at least one new hobby every month. It will add to your skill set, allow you to connect with more people, make you more well rounded, open new opportunities, and mature you in a way like no other.