AltanaESP Glossary

Purpose, structure and Usage of the A-Z Glossary

People are disturbed, not by events, but by the view they take of them. ~ Epictetus ~

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Approved 14 October, 2022 @ 8:05am by Jan Viljoen (version: 11)

Specialist Knowledge

The seat of knowledge is in the head, of wisdom in the heart ~ William Hazlitt & Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them. ~ Albert Einstein

Generally speaking, there are only two kinds of knowledge presently in existence. One is generalist and the other is specialist knowledge…

  • Generalist knowledge - no matter how great in quantity and/or comprehensive in variety it might be - is of very little use in either obtaining or achieving success (i.e. for troubleshooting, to solve a problem in context, dealing with an ongoing issue or deal with a wicked challenge). The many different faculties and departments at “highly acclaimed” universities, colleges and schools - all put together - possess every form of generalist knowledge presently known to mankind. However, the majority of teachers, lecturers and/or professors have very little or no practical success, because they specialize in teaching knowledge, but they do not focus - let alone specialize - in the collection, processing, organization, use and practical application of knowledge within a specific context. Thus, failing to actively promote and enhance understanding.
  • Specialist knowledge - on the other hand - can be regarded as digested filtered and applied generalist knowledge. specialist knowledge, therefore, in essence, is the competency to identify a problem or obstacle (i.e. unproductive events or circumstances), troubleshoot, collecting of data and processing all relevant information; which manifest as the ability to understand obstacle dynamics within context and the competency to organize, structure, apply and use such knowledge productively to develop, initiate and sustain effective solution strategies.

Thus, when you consider enrolling - with the acquiring of specialist knowledge in mind - for additional or supplementary education, schooling, courses or training; please…

  1. FIRST identify the purpose and application for which you want the knowledge you are seeking to obtain,
  2. then SECONDLY decide which kind of resource is best to obtain this kind of knowledge from,
  3. THIRDLY, identify the most reliable resources for the knowledge that you are seeking; …and
  4. FOURTHLY, determine WHY this particular source of knowledge can be regarded as a reliable resource.

Successful individuals (i.e. productive individuals), in all callings and walks of life, never stop to acquiring, refine and continuously tweak their specialist knowledge as related to their primary purpose in life, career, business and/or profession. Therefore, specialist knowledge isn't only a way of dealing with data, information and problems on occasion. As a matter of fact, specialist knowledge is a way of life (a habit) and how we characteristically deal with life's many up's, down's and challenges on an everyday basis.

Those individuals who are not successful (i.e. unproductive individuals), usually make the monumental mistake of believing that the period for acquiring, calibrating and tweaking knowledge ends, e.g. when s/he finished school, college or varsity. The uncomfortable truth is… formal schooling, education and training do little more than to place an individual in the habit of memorizing “a particular set of generalist knowledge” (i.e. curriculum) for “solving” a given set of problems, presented in the format of a test or exam with a predetermined memorandum (i.e. right/wrong answers to problems).

This present educational and/or training model to “educate or train” individuals, worked well during periods of limited change and the industrial phase of mankind, primarily because “problems” was predictable, nicely packaged and the result ensured. But in modern times, which are characterized by rapid technological developments, change and uncertainty… this approach to “educate and train people” can no longer be regarded as a sound foundation to sharpen and acquire specialist knowledge. Unfortunately, the true benefit and authentic advantage of specialist knowledge, namely the ability to troubleshoot efficiently, merely is - at its very best - only 10% to 15% of any current curriculum followed at any school, varsity, institution or place of learning.

Sadly and most unfortunate… modern education and training justify, emphasize, promote and encourage AI-learningplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigI.e. machine, technology and robotic directed learning, as controlled and managed by curriculums, memorandums and various workplace standards, such as SAQA and ISO 900. and immensely neglect EQ-learning!

1. Myth


Knowledge - including specialist knowledge - will not result in any success whatsoever, unless it is structured, organized and intelligently and purposefully directed by means of practical, realistic and definite plans   and channeled towards a specific means . The inability to truly grasp and understand this fact has been - and still is - the main source of disappointment and confusion for millions of people, under the impression of and who falsely believe that “knowledge is power”. It really isn't the case! Knowledge - at best - is merely potential power. Knowledge only becomes authentic power when, and if, it is properly organized and “transformed” into definite plans of action and directed or channelled towards achieving a set of objectives and a specific goal.

As knowledge is acquired, it must be organized and put to good use for a definite purpose, using SMART plans and SMARTER strategies. Knowledge - in itself - has no real value, except for that which can be gained from its application toward some worthy and meaningful end. This is one of the main reasons why diplomas and degrees are not valued, except in the case of a political-bureaucratic driven society. Certificates, diplomas and degrees represent nothing more than miscellaneous memorized generalist knowledge, which is confined to a specific area of knowledge/information or topic.

Thus… having knowledge ain't the real power, applying that knowledge is where the true power lies!

2. Shortcomings

The “missing link” in all major systems of education and training available in modern societies today, may be found in the failure of educational and training institutions to teach their learners how to…

  1. collect information, judge the reliability of sources and determine its validity for a particular context.
  2. process, digest and assimilate knowledge applying different techniques, such as - for example - critical questioning and/or “mind-maps”.
  3. organize, apply and use knowledge after obtaining and mastering it to obtain objectives and ultimately to achieve a goal.

3. Implication

Today many people incorrectly assume that formal schooling and training equal education. Therefore - collectively speaking - individuals that have little “schooling”, aren't regarded as a person of “education”. Those individuals under this illusion, don't know, nor do they understand the real meaning of the word “educate”.

The word educate is derived from the Latin word “educo”, meaning to educe, to draw out, to DEVELOP FROM WITHIN. Thus, an educated individual is not necessarily, one who has an impressive abundance of certificates, degrees and/or diplomas; but an educated person has developed the faculties of his/her mind to such an extent that s/he could achieve anything s/he strives for, or its equivalent, without violating the rights and needs of others (i.e. achieving and obtaining personal responsibility within the parameters of group accountabilityplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigAccountability

Many people view accountability and responsibility as the same thing, leading to many misunderstandings and unnecessary conflicts. The dictionary meaning - in short - of responsibility is “the state of being held as the cause of something that needs to be set right

In essence…

…a person of EDUCATION is any individual who knows where to obtain knowledge - when s/he needs it - and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action and strategies.

Before you can be sure of your ability to transform personal DESIRE into its success equivalent, you must acquire SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE of the service, merchandise and/or profession which you intend to offer in return for achieving success. You have to establish a niche (regarded in the AltanaESP context as your legacy or reputation) and… become extremely good at it which will allow you to ACT SMARTly and establish SMARTER habits. Just bear in mind that perhaps you might need and require much more specialist knowledge than you have the time, ability or inclination to acquire. When this is the case, you could bridge this gap by surrounding yourself with a “specialist knowledge-team” or teams, depending on what is required within a particular context.

Achieving great success in life calls for POWER, and this power can only be acquired through self-disciplined actions which are accompanied by reliable, highly organized and intelligently directed specialist knowledge. However, such knowledge does not - necessarily - have to be in the possession of the person who obtains success… a successful individual just has to understand, know where and how to get hold of knowledge when s/he requires it.

Hopefully, this point of view will encourage the self-determined individual with the ambition to achieve success in life - which shouldn't be confused with making lots and lots of money - and who has not yet acquired the necessary background schooling, to devotedly and purposefully continue on his/her chosen career and/or professional path to success. Often people go through life suffering from “inferiority complexes”, because - in the eyes of others - they are not regarded as “educated”. But, the person who can organize and direct a “knowledge” team of people, who possess knowledge useful in the obtaining of success, is just as much - if not more - a person of education as any highly academic schooled person.

4. Guidelines

First of all, choose and decide on the kind of specialist knowledge that you desire, and the purpose for which it is needed. To a large extent your dreams, core purpose in life and the goal toward which you are working, will help determine what knowledge you need. With this question answered, your next move is to collect, process, digest and assimilate such knowledge. The more prominent knowledge sources that you might use to a greater or lesser extent, can be listed as follows…

  • one’s own experience and the many lessons learned from past successes achieved and “mistakes” made.
  • gaining experiences and education accessible through cooperation with others (i.e. specialist knowledge team alliances and professional networking).
  • through the sharing of knowledge, information and experiences with others.
  • Schools, Technikons, Colleges and Universities.
  • Public Libraries and the Internet (i.e. Google it).
  • Skills training courses, workshops and team-building exercises.

5. Most sought after

Technological advancements and developments these past few decades resulted in significant changes in the workplace that requires a different “breed/kind” of a worker. This employee, that is particularly sought after by employers, is an individual who has specialized in a specific occupational area (i.e. a career path of development and growth), distinguish him-/herself as a leader and become involved in various other activities. An individual who has been active in school or on the campus, whose personality and attitude is as such that s/he gets along with all kinds of people and who has done an adequate job with his/her studies, has a noticeable advantage over well performing and strictly academic student.

These individuals, because of their all-around qualifications, are received favourably in the workplace, because many employers are gradually departing from the idea that “straight A” students are invariably the better choice for jobs. Employers not only consider academic records and work experience, but also the activity records, personality and attitude of the person. Thus, employers are interested primarily in finding persons who show exceptional progress in…

  • managing their own time, efforts and tasks independently.
  • setting priorities, objectives, goals and ACT on it!
  • collecting and processing information and applying it when “troubleshooting a problem” and/or taking decisions.
  • willingness to accept the responsibility for contributing, cooperating and co-creating with others in a team/group context.
  • higher levels of awareness (i.e. insightful) regarding micro and macro workplace environments.
  • being caring, committed, creative, honest, innovative, informed and supportive in the manner s/he operates.
  • improvising, incisive, independent and taking initiative when addressing issues.
  • a willingness to lead strategically in his/her area of expertise.

Click for an explanatory video

Illustrating the 'target area' of Specialist Knowledge and synchronicity between generalist-specialist & independent-team player.

Therefore, employers emphasize qualities of character, common sense, personality, temperament and working style far more than a specific educational background and/or work experiences. In essence…

DECISION, PROMPTNESS, ACTION and THE HABIT OF FINISHING THAT WHICH ONE BEGINS (i.e. a productive PVC inclination) combined with a keen attitude to look for ways to improve the situation or circumstances and actively seek to anticipate needs, requirements and opportunities, “wrapped” in a willingness to actually meet them.

The individual who stops learning merely because s/he has finished school, college or university is forever hopelessly doomed to mediocrity, no matter what his/her job might be. The way to future success is the way of the “continuous pursuit of knowledge” in a focused and self-disciplined manner. Thus, in the words of Alvin Toffler: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”.

6. Completing the puzzle

Specialist Knowledge combined with a healthy troubleshooting attitude, normally give rise to… plenty of initiative; lots of perseveranceplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigPersistence, continued effort and determination in doing something, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. ; a great deal of retention; a delight with challenges and an eagerness to explore & apply various problem solving strategies

For an example of specialist knowledge in action, please read the 'MakeUseOf-article' about an interview held with Rafael Grassetti by Erez Zukerman. And for more information regarding “our brainplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigOur Intriguing Brain!

In the 30+ odd years that I have practised as a psychologist, career- and life coach, there is one particular aspect of human behaviour that I found quite mystifying. People does dumb things (myself included), but - rather naivelyphenomenonawesomeidiotic
”, watch the following TED-talk by Nancy Kanwisher (A neural portrait of the human mind) on recent discoveries in neuroscience regarding brain specializations…

To bind everything - about the dynamics of specialist knowledge - together and place it in a broader perspective and context as related to a present and future career path, the following TED-talk, delivered by Eric Berridge, provide a sufficient explanation and background as to the why, purpose, meaning and role of specialist knowledge when deciding on, preparing for and/or excelling in one's career of choice