The Amazing Benefits (and Pitfalls) of the Jack of All Trades

People look down on talented people – even the phrase “Jack of all trades, jack of all trades” has some negative caveat. But Jack has many hidden benefits. These are the best reasons you might want to rethink the notion that a jack of all trades cannot be as successful.

What is a jack of all trades

A jack of all trades knows how to do a variety of jobs. “Jack” (or Jill, for that matter) knows how to do a little bit of everything, but sometimes this is due to the fact that they never have time to master one particular skill . For example, you may know a little bit of coding, build furniture, and cook decent food well enough to get a job, but you are not very good at any of these issues. Imagine that you are a multi-tool like a Swiss army knife, not just a screwdriver. A multi-tool will do the job, but a good screwdriver will do it better.

In general, we are taught all our lives to choose something and specialize in it. Think about the classic “who do you want to be when you grow up?” the question is, as if you can only be one. Specialization certainly has many undeniable benefits, but it is not necessarily the only way to be successful in life. Not everyone thinks that you have to choose, or that being a jack of all trades is so expensive. Many people, including myself, believe that being Jack can make it easier to master certain skills. James Liu , founder of BoxCat Games, believes that being Jack is a must :

Over the years of learning, reviewing, and teaching, I’ve come to the conclusion that human learning can be easily abused, customized, and scaled up. There comes a certain point in your life when you can achieve or almost master one particular subject. After that, a knowledge base appears, on which you can (and will) build analogies. In doing so, you are taking one industry and reflecting it in another industry. Let me emphasize that you cannot be a jack of all trades without being a master at at least one. Perhaps it’s social skills, puppet making, math, language, emotional awareness – you have to be a master at at least one to be a master at many others.

No matter where you land with the concept, being a jack of all trades has many benefits for those looking to try and do it all. Of course, you cannot talk about the benefits, not to mention the pitfalls. However, if you know what to expect, it will be easier for you along the way.

Benefits

First of all, let’s talk about the benefits – let’s start with the obvious …

You adjust

As a jack of all trades, you can handle a wide range of tasks and situations. Thanks to the extensive knowledge base, you can perform manual labor as comfortably as if you were processing data in an office chair. You may not be a superstar in everything you do, but you can do something well enough that you never worry about what might happen next. You know how to use the knowledge and skills gained in other matters to facilitate any work.

When an opportunity arises, you are also likely to be the first to take advantage of it. You develop an energetic approach that makes you look really good. Problems arise in many different areas that sometimes require a different approach, which is considered normal, which makes you a permanent employee – or a friend or family member – which is ideal for the job. Basically, adaptability is about usefulness, and you want to be useful.

You will learn how to study

A jack of all trades is not content with learning one thing. Your thirst for knowledge gives you the best skill you can learn: the ability to learn. When you learn to do one thing, curiosity takes over and you also begin to learn the skills associated with it. You will develop a sense of how best to learn something effectively so that you can be good enough at what you choose. It may sound a little silly, but when you know how to properly approach new skills, no mountain is too high. It just takes some elbow grease and time. Will you be the first to climb Everest or will you be the fastest? No, but you sure as hell will make it to the top safe and sound.

You fit well in leadership roles

When you think of a good leader, you are thinking of someone with experience. However, many great leaders have extensive experience. Leaders who know all aspects of the business have an edge over those who have climbed the corporate ladder with only one job. Author and Leadership Advisor Tim Ferris explains:

In the world of dogmatists, everything is ultimately ruled by the universal. Is the CEO an accountant better than a CFO or an accounting director? Was Steve Jobs a better programmer than Apple’s top programmers? No, but he had a wide range of skills and saw an invisible relationship. As technology becomes a commodity with the democratization of information, it is the generalists who will predict, innovate, and come to power the fastest. It is not for nothing that the military “generals” are called so.

If you are not interested in being a leader, there is nothing wrong with that, but many people want to make their way to the top. Even if you just want to be your own boss, having a wide variety of skills can mean you need to hire fewer people or give you a boost to get things done since you don’t need help with that.

You build confidence

Confidence plays a huge role in our lives, both socially and professionally. You can approach work with confidence without hesitation, and come across as someone who seems capable to others. Doing what you’re good at is a great way to build self-confidence, and the jack of all trades is good at a lot of things. With a fairly wide variety of skills, you can always do what you do well, constantly building up your confidence, no matter what you strive for.

Variety is the spice of life

If you ever run into an obstacle in your current job, you can jump off the ship and swim to the shores of Diversity Island. A jack of all trades gets his job if he is competent enough. By doing one job, you train other skills, preparing to find inspiration by doing something new when you need it. No more boredom and rut . Who knows, you might even come across an area of ​​expertise that you never thought you’d be carried away along the way.

Traps

Being a jack of all trades is not ideal, of course there are a few downsides, for example …

You are not considered a specialist

You may be good at many things, but it is also unlikely that you will be considered a specialist or expert in a particular field. This title is reserved for those who have dedicated their lives to their chosen profession and deserve it. You can also become a specialist, but it is much more difficult to do it.

This unfortunate reality can sometimes make it difficult to get a job. While most jacks usually have a choice of jobs that they can do, things can happen and finding a job can become much more difficult. You may be faced with endless job listings looking for only the most experienced people, which will knock you off your balance from the start. This is something to consider if you want to adopt this particular way of thinking.

It’s easy to get distracted or get burned out

If you are trying to learn a lot, you must remember that there are many more things to learn. If you don’t know how to focus on just a few things at once, you will be overwhelmed by everything you want to do. In this case, the worst can happen: you will not learn to do anything at all . You are not advancing towards specialization, but now you are also not learning to be competent in anything else. Make sure you set goals and focus on them – at least piecemeal – to avoid becoming unusable. Writer Jeff Goin explains that you need to consider how you spend your time:

Life is full of distractions. While there is nothing wrong with being distracted from time to time, you need to be very careful about how you spend your time if you want it to matter.

Burnout is also a real challenge for the jack of all trades. When you want to do so many different things, you forget that you only have so much time and energy to get down to business. Keep it realistic and remember that jack-of-all-trades doesn’t make you a superhero. Just because you want to know how to do a lot of things doesn’t mean you can just start learning how to do everything at once. Take your time, pick a couple of things to focus on, and keep your personal well-being in mind.

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