Why do you have to Choose a Specialization?

Sometimes, when people ask me what I do,

I get a little nervous.

I make art. I write poetry. I have a business. I help teach people how to fundraise. I speak at conferences, and do workshops and keynotes. I help nonprofit leaders become more effective. I write advice on a website about fundraising. I run 2 different online conferences, one on Fundraising Careers, and one on Nonprofit Leadership. I wrote 3 books and 10+ e-courses and 800+ blog posts. I also do destiny card readings. I host art parties. I seem to be a verb, as Buckminster Fuller says. So I’m a Renaissance woman. And we used to say that was a good thing.

Egon Friedell writes, in A Cultural History of the Modern Age,

“It was precisely the absence of any specializing tendencies, the fact that every leading man embodied a whole university and much more besides, that made the Renaissance peculiar richness and splendor of intellectual atmosphere. For humanity was then sufficiently ripe to achieve the mastery in all things, and yet not old enough to have reached the sobering and paralyzing belief that life is only long enough to achieve mastery in ONE thing. Far from this, the Renaissance ideal was the uomo universale.

A prominent Humanist would be philologist and historian, theologian and jurist, astronomer and doctor all in one. And not only all the great artists, but many small artists as well, were at once painters, sculptors, and architects, and often highly gifted poets and musicians, acute scholars, and diplomats in the bargain. Human talent was not yet forced into special channels, but flowed beneficiently as one free stream over all fields.

We, on the contrary, came into the world with brains ready pigonholed, as it were. We cannot imagine how a man can now or do more than one thing. We paste a particular label on everyone and are surprised, suspicious, and offended if he does not act up to his label. This comes from our culture being so completely dominated by the savant (and the mass-produced savant at that) who confines himself to a single subject and displays in all other sphere the helplessness and artlessness of a child or an illiterate.

But it is in the very nature of the true artist to know everything, be open to all impressions, have access to all forms of existence, possess in fact an encyclopedic soul. In any period of artistic culture we find, therefore, that its gifted people are all distinguished by high versatility. They engage in everything and can do everything.

In Greece a man who wished to be considered prominent was obliged to stand out in practically every department: as a musician or an orator, and equality as a general and a boxer. And the specialist was positively despised as a common fellow and in the Renaissance, talent, virtu, was in the fullest degree identical with many-sidedness. It is only in degenerate cultures that the specialist appears.

In Athens or Florence art was a function in man’s life, as indispensable to his vitality as flying for a bird. The Italian carnival processions, games and feasts were not, as now, a coarse popular entertainment or an apertif for jaded society, but an important, vital occasion in everyone’s life, and everyone wished to taken an active part in them-just as American do today in a meeting.

The story of the artist’s creating solitude, out of himself alone, for himself alone, guided solely by his inner genius and unmoved by outward success and fame, is one of the any current untruths that are universally believed for no better reason than that they go uncontradicted. The artist does not produce out of himself. He produces out of his age-the whole web of its customs, opinions, hobbies, truths, not least its errors, are his source of nourishment, he has no other. The arts does not produce for himself, but for his age. Its understanding, its lively reaction is his source of power, only through this echo can he have the assurance of having spoken.

If you have a hard time choosing just ONE THING to do, to be good at, I feel you.

If you want a job that takes more of your whole self into account, come to the Fundraising Career Conference this April. We’re going to talk about how to find that perfect job for you.

Where is it?  Online! You can attend in your pajamas!

When is it? April 2, 4 and 6th, 2018

Can I get the recordings? 100% YES

Where do I sign up? You Can Sign Up Here.

What if I have more questions? Use the contact form and I’ll get right back to you.

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