Job specialisation and personal development

Job specialisation and personal development

People sometimes find that the dream-job that they once landed has now become a source of frustration and exasperation. As hard as they try, they cannot see how they can gain any personal development by continuing in their current position. What changed between their initial thrill of getting a job and their present feeling that they have bumped into a brick wall?

Learning from children’s books

Children’s books can provide simple lessons which resonate with our life experiences. Bob Graham is a popular children’s books author who encapsulates compelling life-lessons in his narratives.

One of Bob Graham’s storybook characters is a multi-talented dog called Buffy. When Buffy is fired for being too good, he is challenged to re-think life, reinvent himself and find happiness on his own terms.

This is Buffy’s story:

  • Buffy was a stage assistant to Brillo the magician, however Brillo found that the audience was cheering louder for Buffy than for himself, so Buffy was made redundant.

“OUT! and never come back,” cried Brillo.

  • With his last coins, Buffy bought a tin of dog food and a can opener from a supermarket. Then he jumped aboard a moving freight train that was heading into the countryside.

And while he slept, the train continued its rhythm:
and never come back.
and never come back.

  • In the morning, Buffy jumped off the train and went to find a job. However Buffy was unemployable because he did not fit into a slot.

Nobody wanted a dancing sheep dog.
Nobody wanted a tiny rope-throwing cattle dog.
Nobody wanted a plate-juggling kitchen dog.
Nobody wanted a guard dog who played the harmonica.

  • One day, exhausted, Buffy stopped in front of a statue in a town square. The statue was inscribed with the words “I am me. No more. No less”. Buffy decided that the world would have to accept him on his own terms.

“Then one day Buffy stopped. He put down his bag, wiped his brow and looked around him.
“I can go no further,” he said.
“I’m not a sheep dog, a cattle dog, a kitchen dog or a guard dog. So what sort of dog am I?”
“I am Buffy! And I will do what I do. And this time, the world shall come to me.”

  • Buffy started busking, and met Mary Kelly and the musical Kelly family. The Kelly’s acknowledged his unique talents and adopted him.

Now, each night after dinner, the music starts and each night the floorboards shake. Mary’s and Buffy’s feet beat to the rhythm of the jigs and the reels.
And Buffy lives up there, on the hill, to this day.

Buffy: An Adventure Story


Self-actualisation versus specialisation

When we get a job, we are excited because it took all of our persistence, hard-work and study to acquire the skills and knowledge needed for the job.

Nevertheless, as Buffy found out, most jobs require a specific skill set, and do not involve all facets of our personalities. Furthermore, the larger a company is, the smaller part every employee plays in the creation of the finished product, and the more specialised each job becomes.

Subsequently, the reason you may not find fulfillment in your job, is because your job is not you.

  • You are multi-talented – but your job requires that you focus and refine one specific skill.
  • You are innovative – but your job requires that you do exactly the same thing every day.
  • You like relating to people in different ways – but your job requires that you should relate to people predictably.


Thinking out of the square

It is perfectly possible, that you will not find a job on a job board that requires all your skills and that involves all facets of your personality. Subsequently, some people are leaving the standard career path to look for greater versatility.

Rather than define their lives and self-worth in terms of a preordained, often constraining, career track, workers are creating their own patchworks of job experiences to suit their lives.

The Opt-out Revolt: Why People Are Leaving Companies to Create Kaleidoscope Careers

It is also possible, however, that the risk of leaving the security of a standard career path, does not appeal to you. If so, how can you grow within a job that does not seem to require all that you have to give?

According to the Harvard Business Review, the answer is to make sure that there is always something happening in your life, outside of your working hours.

The bottom line: Satisfaction at work is influenced by factors such as benefits, pay, relationships, and commute length. But all of this boils down to two things being important, regardless of your circumstances: (1) having a life outside of work, and (2) having the money to afford it. If you have a job that grants you both of these, you might be happier than you realize.

If you lead a full and vibrant life outside of work, then regardless of the boundaries of your job, people will appreciate the warmth and humanity that you bring to your place of employment.

Although your job may seem limiting, if you carry on polishing your professional skills and growing as a human being, opportunity may knock in unexpected ways, just as it did for Buffy.

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