I’m a real Jack-of-all trades. I study Spanish, Japanese and Italian. I’m currently writing a book about effective learning. Just for fun, I recently picked up programming. I like to take photos, record videos and I also write music. Next week I’m picking up Salsa.
At University I study Linguistics and Anthropology, but I used to go to film school. I really like yoga and I can touch my knees with my forehead I could keep going, but I think I’ve made my point. I’m extremely curious and I love to learn. I’m a real Jack-of-all-trades.
The Problem with Being a Jack-of-All-Trades
The expression ‘Jack-of-all-trades, master of none’ comes to mind, which suggests that a person who is involved with many areas will spread themselves thin and become a master of none.
For obvious reasons, this is something to be concerned about, especially if you’re trying to become an expert in a particular field. However, It’s important to realise that the need to become an ‘expert’ is preached to us by society, and it’s not something we have to accept.
If you’re a jack-of-all-trades like me, then one of your biggest concerns at some point will be how you’re going to find a career and make money when you have a number of different skills, a wide span of knowledge, but you’re just not ‘great’ at anything.
Trust me, I understand.
The problem isn’t with you, it’s with society’s poor ability to cater for all types of personalities.
But don’t worry about that. We don’t need permission to live life the way we want.
Society excludes us and makes us feel cursed, but actually, being a Jack-of-all-trades is a blessing.
The Advantages of Being a Jack-of-All-Trades
Studying a wide range of subjects and learning different skills means you’ll develop a unique way of looking the world. Unique perspectives are important. In fact, Innovation often comes from connecting unrelated ideas; this is also the case for creativity.
I’ll go as far saying that in-order to innovate you have to be a jack-of-all-trades.
But more on this later.
Commitment vs Flirting
Whenever I take on a new subject or try to develop a new skill I like to think I’m starting a new relationship. After all, I’ll need to spend a lot of time and make a lot of effort. That sounds like a relationship to me.
While relationships can be complicated, to illustrate my point I’m going to over simplify and assert that there are only two types: serious relationships and relationships for fun.
Serious relationships are all about depth, understanding the small details and developing a strong personal connection. However on the flip side we have not-so-serious relationships. Imagine a relationship two people have based on flirting. They don’t pay each other much attention but they have fun and they’re not committed. When the flirting gets boring they stop giving each other attention and the relationship becomes a distant memory.
Looking at new endeavours as relationships can be helpful for a jack-of-all-trades. You won’t develop a serious relationship with everything you try to learn because most of the time you’ll be flirting, testing the waters, exploring something new. You’ll often lose interest and want to move on.
After going through this cycle a few times it’s normal to start feeling worried. Maybe you’ll jump onto google and search for things like ‘is it bad to be a jack of all trades ?’ or ‘why can’t I focus on one thing’ if you did that then that may be how you ended up here.
This is the advice I have: serious relationships are extremely valuable, but as jack-of-all-trades we’re always going to want a bit more, something on the side.
It’s ok to start new relationships and there’s nothing wrong with dropping them when they’re no longer interesting. When this happens it means they’ve served their purpose and it’s time to move on.
Not everything you flirt with has to become serious.
How to be a Successful Jack-of-All-Trades
Success here is defined as being able to pursue your interests, being happy and making money. If you want to be a ‘successful’ jack-of-all-trades then you’ll need to pursue something that enables you to constantly learn and explore new areas.
Again, Innovation and creativity is driven by those who are able to bring together unrelated ideas in interesting ways.
I’ve found my wide range of interests to be helpful when writing. My knowledge of different areas allows me to connect interesting dots which I would not have been able to do otherwise.
I’m also drawn to entrepreneurship and documentary film making.
Entrepreneurship because of the uncertainty, the adventure and all of the different aspects involved.
Documentary film making purely because it’s centred around learning about the world.
These are the directions I’m heading and they may be of no interest to you, but the idea here is simple: find something that requires you to have knowledge of different areas and possess a number of skills.
This what I believe it takes to be a successful jack-of-all-trades
What will you try to pursue?