Jack of All Trades or Master of One?

I received this good question via Wiselike:

What’s your view on this: Jack of all trades or a master of one? Which one would you rather be?

I wrote this once, a while ago, about personal branding and the power of “expertise”: http://john.do/reputation/

I still believe in specializing but I have refined my approach to this is a bit and hold this perspective in a much more open palm, so to speak.

Specializing is important for each of us because it allows us to identify, sort, and understand ourselves and our own interests rapidly and efficiently. But that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to be amazing at that one thing forever.

I think its the latter part and perspective that has changed over the years. I have discovered that I am (like all of us) an ever-changing and ever-evolving creature who’s creative and who enjoys new challenges. Again, I think we’re all like this in many respects.

Consequently, I’ve been more open to re-imagining and re-defining my own career path over the years, something that I wasn’t so open to earlier in life. For most of us I think it’s arrogant to believe that once we’ve found that “one” thing that we’re going to be doing that forever. There are, of course, exceptions, and you and I hear about people who have found their calling at a super-young age, but those are the exceptions, not the norm.

For instance, my hair stylist discovered his life’s work when he was a teenager (I believe he said when he was 15). He’s been doing it now for decades and he still loves it. But even he has expanded his work to include coaching, consulting, and teaching beyond cutting.

The problem, ultimately, is that we try to attack this question on the basis of a belief that it is truly binary. In other words, we believe that if we can know, definitely, that one way is better or one way will help us to become more “successful,” then we’ll follow that path to the end.

The problem is that we are all uniquely different and uniquely talented. We are all too different for there to be the model for each one of us. I am more certain about this than I ever have been and the goal isn’t to find a model that we can fit into but to create the one that works for ourselves, based on who we are and what we’ve been given to do (and the people around us).

I know that’s not as helpful as one would like, but, I think it’s the best answer I’ve got to this complex (yet simple) question.

If you’ve got a question, I’ll answer it over at my Wiselike page!