Well, are you? If your answer is yes then this post might be something you can just skip. For the rest of us why don’t you spend a few minutes looking at why being a curious specialist is much better than being a garden variety specialist.
A curious specialists will be much more than a specialist
If you become a curious specialist you’re going to know about much more than a narrow specialty. You’re going to be able to have an intelligent conversation about anything your clients might be interested in.
When someone talks about something you don’t know about you’re going to have to find some books, audio tapes or lectures to watch or listen to. You’ll not be able to stand it if you hear about something new and not spend time learning about it.
That is if you’re curious.
You’ll learn about everything that’s even tangentially related to your specialty.
Several years ago I had clients who kept talking with me about becoming a Lean company. I had heard about Lean and I really didn’t know what it was. After I heard the term from a third client I knew I just had to find out what Lean was all about.
I went to my favorite source of new information (Amazon) and bought five highly rated books on the subject. I then proceeded to read all five over the next month.
I learned that I knew what Lean was, I just had never put it in the context of using that language. Because of my curiosity about what a term meant I was able to intelligently discuss Lean with my clients and help them make wise decisions about how best to use this technique.
Do you think this added value to my clients lives?
I wasn’t an expert by any stretch of the imagination
There was no way that reading five books on a particular subject made me an expert. What my reading did was make me just knowledgeable enough to have an intelligent discussion.
Now that I knew what Lean was, I could help my clients find real experts who could help install programs that would make their companies better. I am an expert at helping companies hire other specialists. But, I first needed to know what we were hiring. Does this make sense to you?
You’ll be much more valuable to your clients.
There’s no question that I have several specialties that are very valuable to my clients. By staying current with all the things my clients could do, I’ve made myself into a generalist as well as a specialist.
This has made me much more valuable when I’m in the role of a thinking partner with my clients. If I find myself saying, “I don’t know.” I know that I’m going to rapidly get to the point where I instead say, “I know enough about this to be dangerous.”
There’s a big difference between the two. It all comes from being curious.
Life will be more rich.
I know that when I learn something new my life is much richer. I love to learn new things. I’m hoping that as you’re reading this post you’re saying, “This describes me.” If it is, you know what I’m talking about.
I bet the more things you learn about the more fun you have. I also bet the more curious you are, the more others find you fascinating and think of you as a go to person on a very wide variety of subjects. Eventually you might be called about all sorts of things that really have nothing to do with your specialty.
What does this accomplish? It gives your clients and potential clients a much bigger reason to call you.
You will straddle both worlds.
When you move between being a specialist and a generalist you get to engage people in both worlds. Sometimes someone will call you about your specialty….and sometimes you’ll get calls that aren’t in your specialty, but is something you can have an intelligent conversation about.
When you play the role of the generalist you get to be the coordinator. You get to help your client find the right people, that is if you have a great rolodex to go along with your advice. You do have a great rolodex, don’t you?
You might even develop the ability to collaborate
This is where straddling both worlds gets to be really fun. You now have the ability to be the collaboration ninja in the community you serve. This doesn’t mean you’re going to be the most important advisor (although you might be), it means you get to coordinate and collaborate.
I suggest that you first start collaborating with your client and then with any other professional you bring to the party. You’ll find you have more fun and add more value to your relationships. Does that sound like something that you find attractive?
Just hit reply and let me know what you think about this post. I love to talk about collaboration and learning.