Greatness means being a jack of all trades

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"My goal is to stop people from talking so much about the inherent nature of these media and start them talking more about the different ways we can use them. In particular I seek to celebrate the flexibility of writing as a medium, and to show that we need to develop more control over ourselves as we write so that we can manage our writing process more judiciously and flexibly." Peter Elbow, page 151

 

Although I didn't quite follow this goal throughout Elbow's essay, stating it at the conclusion and rereading the text really helped this point stick out for me. There are several different means of communication available to people today more than ever. Obviously, each individual will have their own preference on which means they would use to most often communicate. But there are those who stubbornly reserve their communicative expression to a single form, and it's these people who I believe Elbow is addressing.

Communication isn't a one trick pony like it was before the ancient Greeks first devised an alphabet over 2,500 years ago. Even in the several centuries that followed, some of the most effective and respected communicators were those who could express their message both orally and in writing. Today, many people see those forms as archaic and useless. They get transfixed in the belief of the new technologies swallowing up the old and becoming not just the new but also the only way. There are others who look back at the old forms with a sense of nostalgia and will retell stories of when they thought that was high tech, only to revert back to the newest forms and endlessly sing their praises.

The best communicators today are like those of Rome and Greece some 2,000 years ago. They can utilize all mediums of communication and spread their message to many, many more people. Isn't that what communication is all about anyway? Even if only half of the people your message reaches care about what you say, the other half that do will anoint you a great communicator who is a master at spreading his ideas across all borders and boundaries. Some of the best journalists and commentators that I look up to spread their message in several formats and do so almost seven days a week. Many will have a column or news story published during the week and host a weekday television and/or radio show. Some also post their reporting and commentary on renowned websites and also decorate their pages with webcast videos to appease even more viewers.

The bottom line is today's technologies provide a litany of ways for anyone in the field of communications to not only succeed but excel. You can dominate one part of the industry but be invisible in the others and therefore never achieve more than mediocrity. That's not to say that isn't okay to shine in one medium and be modestly successful in the others. But to really stand out, you need to take full advantage of all the avenues technology has provided and tirelessly work to outclass competitors in each field. 

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