Specialty

Athens's geography and culture in Ancient Greece was that of a port city; an eclectic crossroads of merchants and scholars.  This was a necessary foundation for a full evaluation of ethics, beliefs, and ideals in antiquity.

In modern culture, humanity is faced with a similar cultural deconstruction as the Athenians of Ancient Greece.  Information travels at the speed of light, and it is ordinary for people to travel, relocate, and change careers throughout the course of their life.  Cities across the world are becoming increasingly diverse, with the heritage of the individual and locality tempered and enriched by the chorus of many.  Ideology, in and of itself, has become fragile, leading us to become more aware of each other's unique experiences and struggles than ever.

Seek ye first the good things of the mind, and the rest will either be supplied or its loss will not be felt.

Francis Bacon

A clever flywheel...

In this great diversity and reorganization of human values, businesses are tending towards de-specialization, growing larger and larger to fill an ill-defined demand among customers.  This is often for the better, as we can all reap the benefits of these economies of scale.  Grocers in major cities sell... everything, and we can typically find books, media, and communities of all sorts that help us expand our awareness of different ideas and beliefs.  

A peculiar side effect of these de-specialized systems is that individuals, in their work, are actually becoming increasingly specialized to meet the expectations of complex, information dense societies.  There is lots of prerequisite information expected of people, even as young as grade school, where one school's math curriculum may run at twice the pace of another.  This trend carries throughout life, where an accountant will cross over into agricultural knowledge to meet the needs of their workplace, or a software engineer needs specialized knowledge of medical systems to build software for hospitals.  This is so commonplace as to necessitate Agricultural Accounting conferences, and in-depth certifications on HIPAA compliance.  These communities are a great thing for digging deeper into the unique complexities of different industries, although they place a heavy expectation on individuals to specialize correctly.  

De-specialization of business introduces a disproportionate risk for employees where businesses can readily reap ineffective or now-automated legs of their business; employees still have to specialize to provide their services to businesses.  What then, when someone spends years specializing or building a niche product, and their specialty loses favor or becomes obsolete?  This is an unfortunate consequence of individuals bearing the weight of immeasurably complex systems.  For this reason, I encourage people to be generalists where possible, and learn how to abstract their knowledge across different domains.  An employee may often be evaluated based on their ability to adapt, rather than their proficiency in any particular skill and commitment to the company.  This seems like a symptom of the broader "gig-economy" effect, where businesses operate with such fluidity and "agility" that employees are no longer career employees.  

Stay true, be yourself.

As an individual, you can learn from and adapt to this odd business culture we are in, becoming more multi-faceted and adaptable to changing circumstances.  Learning to learn is one of the most important skills you can develop.  Figure out how you learn best and practice it.  A commitment to true philosophy of experience is pervasive in any specialty.  You can engage your knowledge and experience in unique ways that no one else can conjure, for the most important thing that you can bring to others is your personal light and heritage.  

We can learn important lessons from trade cultures of time past, Athenian society, Marco Polo and the Silk Road.   The world is built on chaotic, self-reinforcing and self-devouring systems, but you must always know that you have a voice, and that you should always stay faithful to truth and goodness.  Know that you are not what the prevailing ideology sells you, advertises, or even hires you for.  Your unique spark prevails where the Moloch of business and politics runs dim.  Specialize in being yourself.