There’s nothing special about being a generalist

Blogs Jason Cannon January 28, 2014

Daley Thompson is largely considered one of the greatest decathletes of all time.

An eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist, the London-born athlete has shattered decathlete records multiple times over.

Thompson is legendary in his speciality but Bruce Merrifield, who spoke at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week Monday as part of the SOLD series, would argue Thompson’s specialty was in being a generalist.

Traditionally, the title of “World’s Greatest Athlete” has been bestowed to the winner of the Olympic decathlon, an event that is compiled of 10 track and field events.

Thompson excelled against his peers, all generalists in their own right. They didn’t specialize in anything. They simply excelled at multiple things.

If you compare the world records held by decathletes (generalists) and compare them to track and field Olympians (specialists), you can see the difference honing in on a talent can make.

For example, Jamacian-born Usain Bolt holds the world record in the 100 meter with a time of 9.58 seconds. American Ashton Eaton holds the decathlon record with a time nearly a full second slower. With rare exception, the decathletes are simply not as skilled in the individual events as the specialists, and in some cases it’s not even close.

Merrifield’s point was that it’s hard to be great at everything, and trying to do that could be keeping you from being great at something.

As part of his “Expanding Parts/Service Opportunities Using Analytics” session, Merrifield encourages distributors to take a deep dive on their net profit per customer visit at the store.

Jason Cannon is Online Managing Editor for Truck Parts & Service.

You can follow me on twitter at @By_Jason_Cannon

View this article on one page