We all benefit from how the web allows us to dabble:to show our photos, join a creative writing community, or diagnose the scaly skin situation. And the lines between amateur and professional are increasingly blurry (the Pro-Am phenomenon).
Joining Twitter, I was boggled by how many bloggers were writing about work psychology… but then why not? Qualifications guarantee no monopoly of a subject, and are often less attractive than enthusiasm. Now we can dabble as our own lawyers , our own university teachers and our own web designers . And there’s no doubt that some dabblers possess incredible selling skills, whether they can deliver the goods or not.
Rebutting Dabble Attack
Some signs then that your career may be under dabble threat include:
- you know yourself areas of your work could be computerized – but the geeks haven’t clocked it yet
- you spend more time justifying your impact and value than you do on job delivery
- you Google odd combinations of your specialization with its adjacent fields and are shocked to find people with unexpected job titles doing your work
So to insure yourself against dabble attack you could:
- take up futurology, but think like Warren Buffet. Don’t pile into trends – instead orient what you do to them
- produce vivid evidence of what you do, cross-platform, and on and offline. Remember the Steve Jobs dictum: real artists ship.
- be as creative as you can about what you are supposed to know about – dig deep to come up with new discoveries, link to unusual specializations. People always need expertise, but the depth and whereabouts of the need may shift. Keep thinking ‘Who can benefit best from what I know and where are they?’
Definitions of dabbling tend to include ‘a lack of serious intent’. Which doesn’t mean that our own dabbling can’t become something more significant. James Dyson reckons you can become expert in anything in 6 months, given sufficient application. What you love and tinker with could become a whole new direction – and one that offsets threats in today’s churning workplace.