You may have read my last blog post, in which I started to take a deeper look at this concept of ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’ in a little more detail. I talked about what the phrase really meant. I also talked about some famous Jacks and how I have zero aspirations to be like them… read the post and you’ll see what I mean.
Today I want to take a bit of a deeper look into what this really means for me in my everyday life. The pros, the cons, the opportunities.
The Good News
So let’s start with the good news. Everything I’ve read so far suggests that as a JoAT you have some pretty useful skills:
- You’re adaptable
- You know how to learn and how to teach yourself
- You know how to spot an opportunity and aren’t afraid to go for it
And you tend to have some desirable traits:
- You tend to be enthusiastic and have a thirst for knowledge
- You see the big picture, you’re not narrow-minded, and you tend to be a bit more of an optimist
Plus, you’re lucky because:
- You’re not forced into any one career path by having overly-specific qualifications or training.
- Generally, you’re the type of person who ends up making a great leader or manager.
- You’re less likely to get bored
- When you’re still a student it looks like the whole world is yours for the taking – you could go anywhere, do anything, you’ll never be stuck for a job or opportunities, and to some extent, this is the case!
What all this really means for me is that for now, being a JoAT has served me well. I’ve been able to adapt to a number of roles, jobs, internships, etc. well. Very well.
I’ve learnt a lot of valuable skills which I thought made me perfect for a career in marketing; I understand good branding, how to use social media for marketing, web design and coding come in very useful, photography and making videos are awesome tools for content marketing, same with blogging.
On paper this all sounds great, so why am I still worried? Why do I still feel this need to find my specialism?
You know, my research started off well enough. I was starting to feel pretty good, reassured even, about my Jack-ness. But, then I discovered not everyone appreciates a varied skillset as much as me.
In some cases, you might not be taken completely seriously or not considered good enough because you’re not a specialist in a particular area. And this is fair enough, right? I mean imagine you need brain surgery; you don’t want just any old doctor poking around in your head – you want a neurosurgeon, right?
Other articles suggested that as a JoAT, you might be more easily distracted than others or tend to lose focus quickly. I see this. I even experience this. With so much you want to try or experience or learn, how can you not get distracted sometimes?
And, of course, the big consequence of all this is that you might find it hard to progress in your a career because you can never quite reach the next level in a particular field. This is what I’m pretty much terrified of.
So What Do I Do Now?
The thing is, as the rational side of my brain keeps trying to tell me, life isn’t brain surgery. You don’t quite need that level of crazy-specialist knowledge and expertise in your everyday life. And, if I’m honest, I don’t think you need it in most jobs. In a lot of cases, I think having too much of a narrow focus or narrow skill set can be more of a hinderance than anything.
Plus, when I think about what I want to do with my life it’s not success or money I want. It’s happiness. And I know that sounds like some philosophical, pretentious rubbish but I’m serious. I just want to do what makes me happy. And if that means spending some days writing, some days, taking photos and some days doing something else entirely. As long as I’m constantly learning and enjoying myself I really don’t care anymore.
You know it’s taken me a long time of feeling like I wasn’t good enough and that I’d never be good enough but I reckon I can be. I can be good at a lot of things and with enough time and effort I’ll eventually master one or more of them. I think I’m finally going to be ok admitting it: