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Specialists have deep knowledge of their chosen subject but often cannot adapt well to changing conditions.
Generalists are usually better at adapting because they can see the big picture but they often lack ‘deep knowledge’.
The trick is to have a foot in each camp. Cultivating our ability to adapt while at the same time developing deep knowledge or specialized abilities is one way of standing apart from the pack. Even the fire-maker needs to know how to hunt and gather. Wearing one hat does not preclude us from wearing the other. Specialization and adaptation need not be mutually exclusive characteristics.
Social dynamics, political events, popular trends, even natural events have always conspired toward making the world an unpredictable place in which to live. And perhaps now, more than ever before in history – our ability to take on the mantle of the adaptive specialist will determine how well we fare in this thing we call life.
Mixed Martial Arts is an obvious metaphor for this. Those who rely solely on their specialization could be in for a rude awakening in the modern arena. Similarly, those who are shallow generalists, will probably never rise to the top echelon – that position is reserved, in my opinion, for the Adaptive Specialist.