Why You Need To Be A Winner By Being A Versatilist And Not A Specialist


Not so many people have come across the word, versatilist. Unlike specialist, it is not radically popular. I’m a strong proponent of focus as a tool for maximum productivity. But in as much as being a specialist is a fruit of focus, there is still so much to focus that a lot of people have tapped into.

Apart from versatilist and specialist, there is a relatively popular third talent archetype known as generalist.
In a Gartner study captured in The World Is Flat Thomas Friedman stated that

Specialists generally have deep skills and narrow scope, giving them expertise that is recognized by peers but seldom valued outside their immediate domain.

Generalists have broad scope and shallow skills, enabling them to respond or act reasonably quickly but often without gaining or demonstrating the confidence of their partners or customers.

Versatilists, in contrast, apply depth of skill to a progressively widening scope of situations and experiences, gaining new competencies, building relationships, and assuming new roles.

In summary, generalists are jacks of all trade, while specialists are masters on one trade. Versatilists, on the other hand, grow their expertise at all times by gradually tilting from being a master of one trade to being a master of many trades.

Why You Should Be A Versatilist?

I know you’re going to say that every successful man in this modern age is known for one thing. But imagine being a pro at many things?

Versatility is about diversifying your knowledge. It’s about being able to recognize that a new trend is pushing fast into the market and then adapting yourself quickly to the trend in order to take new opportunities. That’s what Elon Musk is doing with Tesla electric cars.

You need to understand that trends are changing and if you must remain relevant, you need to be able to adapt to trends. Being a versatilist helps you remain in business.


Versatilists don’t just constantly adapt to changes in this dynamic world, there are also learning and growing as the day unfolds. This is the principle on which successful conglomerates are established.

They gain more territories in a bid to conquer all spheres. Google is constantly expanding, such that more than half of the entire internet world uses at least one of their services. Facebook has a formidable plan of diversifying and consolidating its authority on the social media landscape. This can be seen in their purchase of Whatsapp and Instagram.

If you don’t like Facebook, you will certainly love sharing photos on Instagram or instant messaging on Whatsapp. Whichever one your heart beats for, you’re still putting making Mark Zuckerberg rich.

Now let’s narrow it down to you. For instance, you’re a guru at making women’s wear. Why don’t you be a versatilist who is also sound at making men’s wears too?

The same goes for web developers who are proficient in one programming language. Instead of remaining a local champion by being a master in your “one” programming language, you can go out of your way to learn others too. The result is that you can be able to get more job offers from people who need your services on the newly learned language.

How To Be Move From Being A Specialist To Being A Versatilist

There are four basic steps necessary to being a versatilist:

1. Be a specialist

The term versatilist won’t be applicable to you if you’re not yet a specialist at something. Don’t just be a generalist, be a pro at something.

2. Identify new trends

Anticipate and identify new trends in your chosen niche. It may not necessarily be new trends. It could just be something that you had no prior knowledge of. Just identify such and set your gaze on them. It could be an area in your niche or a new technology or a new skill. Either way, it’s something you’re not good at yet

3. Learn new skills

Make up your mind to learn every necessary skill that is needed to take you to the top of this newly discovered trend. You may need to take a professional course and get certified if the need arises. But don’t be a mediocre here. If you don’t learn every necessary skill for this new trend/technology/niche, you’ll end up being a normal generalist.

4. Get new opportunities

Now that you are a pro, use your knowledge to secure opportunities for yourself. Dominate that industry and cover new territories.

Simply put, you need to be a versatilist to remain relevant and to earn more.

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