I live on a working horse ranch. My wife boards, trains, and trims horses and has employees. Occasionally I have to help out with chores, or more often, fixing things. I was talking with a coworker recently and showing some pictures. He was asking why I do things like tap a bolt instead of hiring someone to do it.
I caught this excerpt from a book on cooking, which got me thinking. I don't love the flow here, as it wanders between cooking, economics, politics, social justice, and more. However, the core ideas of specialization and taking on a task was what I got out of the piece.
I work for a software company, and certainly, I make much more doing that than I save by cooking a meal or fixing a bolt. I could hire someone at much less than my hourly rate to do the work. Except, I don't get paid more for working more. Maybe if I do more sales and get a quota, but for now an extra hour of work hasn't helped me.
Then there's the satisfaction of getting something done. I talk and write and move bits around all day; nothing that has a tangible result. It can be satisfying but in a very different way than cooking or physically finishing a task. I actually like getting my hands dirty and seeing the results of my work. Seeing a new fence go up, a tree come down, or a repaired bolt brings about pride. I feel good when my family appreciates a tasty recipe and everyone cleans their plates. It's a nice challenge.
At the same time, routine maintenance, like changing oil, sometimes feels like doing an expense report. Needs to be done, it helps me, but there's nothing very exciting about it.
In the era of specialization, or even the era of automation and AI tools, it might seem that we don't need to learn or work on anything outside of our area of expertise. I think it's important to practice, learn, and use a variety of different skills. Even if I don't need to write PoSh often, it is helpful to sometimes tackle work that needs doing. Each bit of new knowledge brings new understanding and appreciation for the work others do.
It also helps me gain confidence in my ability to learn and use new technologies should the requirement arise. This has also served me in past jobs where I can step in and help others or even tackle a job when they aren't available. This is something that I find far too many people struggling with. Either because of a lack of confidence or not having enough general skills that help them troubleshoot, build, or even support the vastly changing environments in which we work.
Doing something old, new, challenging, or easy is good for all of us. Try something new, while you also appreciate and use the skills you have. Believe in your ability to learn and prove it to yourself on a regular basis.