The Specialist

Knowledge provides the edge in specialisation to the extent that if you are not continually learning in your specific subject, then whenever you meet another person who is, they will win, and you won’t.

Yen Tzu’s nephew, Merchant Hui Neng, had sent his eldest son, Ni, for guidance following a decline in business, which Neng attributed to Ni’s lack of focus. Yen Tzu tilted his head to one side and smiled affectionately at his great nephew Ni, after the young man had explained that what he may lack in experience, he most assuredly made up with enthusiasm and commitment and was ready to do everything and anything.

‘When you truly express yourself, the world embraces the enthusiasm and commitment you display,’ replied Yen Tzu. ‘Indeed it applauds your individuality. Yet, when you extend yourself toward everything and anything the outcome is not always as you would have hoped for. The key to fully expressing yourself is to find out what you are good at and then become exceptional at and then to specialise in it to the full.

‘Those who do seek to specialise inevitably discover that the rewards are disproportionate between the best and the rest. Similar to the winning horse whose owner receives ten times more than the owner of the horse that came second, the specialist will reap increasing returns for being the best.

‘Specialisation is perhaps the single most important factor in evolution itself. Every species has a tendency to seek out its ecological calling and develops its strengths accordingly in order to fulfil itself. Man, however, has a tendency to be influenced by artificial circumstances rather than natural conditions. Thus he seeks to adapt and improvise rather than create and develop.’

‘Can you illustrate with one of your famous stories, great uncle?’ asked Ni, enthusiastically...

 

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