I was sitting in a room of highly intellectual people. Scientists. Researchers. Professors. A member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former US vice-president Al Gore, was the resource speaker of the day. It was a very interesting topic-climate change-especially for such kind of audience. That day, I started to think seriously. No, nothing about climate change (or maybe in addition to the climate change topics). A take-away from that afternoon session just hit me, and I won’t forget that.
A forum was opened, or maybe a question and answer portion; whatever the correct term is. We were allowed to ask him some questions. I always tend to be quiet, so I did not voice out anything. Someone then asked if the policy-making body will ever listen to the scientific people. They do listen, he said. And there, he testified of his own journey. He is now working for around 30 years (if I remember it correctly) in his field, and recently, he is witnessing that those he had studied decades ago are being brought into surface and considered by the government in their policies, such as climate change. Very inspiring. And he joked around (non-verbatim), “So as young scientists, work on your field for ten years, and soon, you will be the expert of your specialization; people will come after you.” The audience burst into laughter. Why? 10 years?! Except for several professors, most of us there are just at the start of our careers as young researchers- yes, scientist. What he added at the latter part took me. “Find your niche,” he said.
Find your niche. That hit me.
As a young professional, I have many things in mind, maybe a list of what I want to do and a number of plans. I have dreams, the size of this planet maybe. I desire to be an influence to many, to the world (of course, good influence it will be.) I want to put up some businesses, study some more, establish a charity or foundation- very ideal plans. Well, they are all still in clutter. I am currently working, but I don’t know how to put all things together.
Find your niche. Again, that hit me.
He got it right. With all the things that a person would like to do, no one can do things all at once. Being a jack-of-all-trades might come handy in some situations. However, how is it to be a master of none? Competent in many skills, but not outstanding in anything particular. Well, that won’t always work in a pursuit for significance. One should find his/her sweet spot, something which he/she can
call her own specialization. From that place, he/she can then expand his/her horizon.
Find your niche. Now.
As beginners in the field, maybe some experimentation won’t hurt. Which one will really suit me? Which do I love the most? Where do I truly excel? Where do I see myself, 10 years or 20 years from now? What would I want to see myself doing by that time? Discovering your niche comes with a process. At least, you are trying to search for that one thing.
He did not elaborate more on that. He just encouraged us to really determine where do we want to be an expert on, to find our niche (or was I already in a deep thought that I did not remember anything that he added?) Nevertheless, I got the message- just in those three words.
Find your niche. No more scientific explanation or any discussion. I know, somehow, those words hit something in you as well, even without further elaborations of what those could really mean.
That same night, while doing one of my jack-of-all-trade activities, I had the television on. A movie was being shown, Elysium. I am not a fanatic of science fiction, but I was caught by a line from the protagonist’s sister:
“Everyone has a special thing, Max. One thing that they are destined to do. One thing they were born for.”
Oops, did she just say that everyone has his/her own niche?
I’m on my journey of finding my niche, and I am having a good time.