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How can my knowledge/skills be put to good use in fields that don't need me?

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Aug 26, 2020
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How can my specific knowledge have the most impact on a goal which is outside of my area of expertise?

Over time everyone develops their unique skill set and knowledge based on life experiences, education, personality, environment, and even genes.

However, in today's rapidly changing world people might find themselves interested or even develop a passion for new fields outside of their area of expertise. By joining late they could be years or decades behind the field experts in knowledge/skill. This makes a significant, breakthrough contribution to the field less likely (but not impossible).

How can field-outsiders increase their odds of making a significant contribution? Maybe we could come up with a set of guiding principles.
Creative contributions

Find your optimal angle and keep iterating

Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic Aug 26, 2020
This is simpler said than done but there is no way around it. If you are serious about contributing to a field you will need to: 1. consider what you are good at (unique knowledge/skill set) 2. figure out a way how your knowledge/skill can have an impact on the field 3. go for it, reassess, iterate
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Understand the scope of your profession

Anja M
Anja M Aug 29, 2020
Well, there are no easy solutions to these, but I believe there are solutions, and here is one. Either coming from us as individuals or from our teachers (in formal or informal education), we have to understand our line of work is probably not only what the current market portrays it to be. As a professional in humanities, I can verify this. So basically, this is a literal "thinking outside the box", where, e.g. what Aristotle was talking about categorization of animals, can be implemented in the broader scope of understanding the principles of categorizing, and then implementing them in a particular field.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Sep 03, 2020
You have a unique skill-set (experience from your field of expertise) shared by very few (or none) in the new field you are trying to enter. You start by going through the basics to achieve the goal (the latest mind-boggling question in the field). You have the latest technology to perform your basic research, which makes the process time-effective. You start solving easy problems or the initial steps that lead to the current goal. You find that some things can be performed differently, for example, simplifying the design, to make them more effective than the current version. Your past experience may help you here. By reinventing, you also avoid dependency and you can add features that you think are useful. Most importantly, you understand the stuff better by reinventing it. The insight you get can be greater than that most people from the field have. If nothing else, you can call yourself the master of two!
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Think from first principles

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Nov 09, 2020
The field might not need you (yet), but what does it need? Try to come up with a list of things that would expedite progress in the field. Then for each of the items, try to come up with ideas that would make the maximum impact in the positive direction.

Now, can you do something that will launch any of those ideas into action?
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Keep learning and practicing

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Aug 26, 2020
Don't put pressure on yourself. You don't have to be the best. You don't even have to be good. You just have to start learning/practicing. Don't compare yourself with anyone. You are studying/practicing because you are driven by passion. You are upgrading yourself regardless of the end result. It should be fun.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 years ago
Follow the relevant news probably fits under learning
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Surround yourself with people who are experts in your field of interest

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Aug 26, 2020
Find a way to be around experts in your field of interest. This might not be easy. Being a genuinely good person sometimes doesn't cut it, so find ways you could be of help to them. Never ever waste their time.
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Samuel Bello
Samuel Bello3 years ago
Surrounding yourself with experts in your field of interest lets you share your ideas with the people who are most qualified to refine or criticize your ideas. These experts will update your knowledge on the topics most related to your contributions while your questions and propositions can boost the experts' creativity by forcing them to think outside the box and reflect more deeply on the basic reasons why your proposals may not work. In some cases, your ideas could be modified into useful innovations.
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Decide to Effect a Change

Daami A.
Daami A. Jul 29, 2021
Thanks for bringing this up!

Please, forgive me if I write this from a very personal point of view.

I for example am a microbiologists fixated at giving renewable energy to the world. Because of this desire of mine, I decided to make natural methane from cattle dung. This may be argued to be under chemical engineering or industrial chemistry, however, I also decided to isolate and genetically modify bacteria to increase the yield in methane production. This is me entering the energy scene as a microbiologists.

I cannot do without engineers as I need bioreactors and other machines. No one is an island, our ideas must be solved with other individuals.

I honestly think that it is much easier to get into another field if you want to make an improvement or introduce a better way.

If they won't do it, for the sake of humanity, please, do it! With time, your creativity will be celebrated by all!
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