Thanks to Adam Savage from Mythbusters there is hope for being a Generalist
Photo credit: Ralf Weiser, Adam is seen getting hoisted 3 levels using two telephone books.
Just three weeks ago the Mythbusters stopped by in Reading PA for their “Mythbuster’s on Tour”. It had everything: Adam and Jamie performed live Myths, they had audience members help out, and both made a little time for a Q&A session. Initially I was just as disappointed like my son, as the show was essentially the same one that we had already seen in Philly last year. That changed very rapidly for me and I was glad that we went to the show.
Adam had a gig during the show in which he started to juggle. Did you know that he started out juggling once he was done with playing with Lego (he called it addiction; one that I share with him)? He told the story of how juggling changed his life forever. Strange, huh? I thought so too. He did have my full attention though.
Juggling taught him three essential and life changing items:
- He discovered the meaning of passion:
He shared with us that one day he started juggling balls and soon all sorts of other items. Every time something flopped onto the floor it just made him want to get better at it and thus he kept on going and going. This taught him persistence. Did you know that he worked on making all sorts of props for the newer Star Wars movies? It had been a dream come true, but it took at least 6 months of calling the prop producer on a weekly basis (and a little luck too) and he was allowed to join the crew. Awesome, just awesome.
- He discovered the meaning of what science is:
This one was an awesome point. Adam asserted that science is not merely about facts that stand there on their own. Science is not when experiments turn out the way you expected them to go – science starts happening when the results make you go “huh?” It is the question as to why things did not work that you need to dig deeper and you all but automatically use key elements of the scientific method.
- He discovered the gap between “great” and becoming a “pro”:
During the show in Reading (and also in Philly) Adam juggled his heart out. I was astonished to learn how much time it took for him to become proficient at it. He apparently considered becoming a pro juggler. One day he stopped. The reason why was that he could project how much more time it would take to really get good at this art. He had gotten to about the 90% mark, and the remaining 10% percent would have taken so much longer than the time it had taken to get to the 90% mark.
During the years following his juggling stint, he got interested in many more skills. He got to be a great generalist because he pushed himself to become great at all of them. On the set of making Star Wars props this helped him make more and more stuff because the masters there experienced great final results and they trusted Adam with more and more tasks. How awesome it that?
The last point totally made my night. It was the reason why Adam got really good at so many different skills, but he always chose to seek out more and more skills instead of sticking with just one. This helped him become a great Generalist. Most or our tasks rarely need a pro and thus even 80-90% proficiency will almost always beat everyone else’s skill sets and thus delivery great results.
Thank you, Adam for giving a Generalist like me hope that there is a place for us in business and life in general. How about you? Whatever you have picked, where are you on a scale of 0-100%?