Why being a Jack or Jill of all trades suck.
This triggered in me while I heard my super boss elaborate on a new training program for all the employees, and she wanted a professional trainer with expertise in only the skill they need to be trained for. Meaning: She doesn’t need a generic trainer but someone who can train them only that particular skill.
Apart from being just an idiom, Jack or Jill of all Trades is also a personality trait. Highly adaptable skills and passable tasks are often underlooked. But it also makes you restless and lose patience, and eventually jump to another interesting task while finishing one. It’s the debate between a generalist versus a specialist. That brings me to another domain and we pretty much multi-task a lot there.
Ever wondered why courses / degrees abroad have specializations and not generic subjects like Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics combined to one triple major? Of course we have specialized courses like BBA in Supply Chain and B.Sc. in Dietetics here but majority of India goes for the popular generic ones. No one can be blamed. It’s a game with our future self. Unlike us, the pressure is on the audience of this game and they collectively chant: ‘You study, you win’. But study what? and what’s the win? By the time this is realized, we send our kids to school, and complete a full loop.
While it’s still fun to learn new things and develop new skills, mastering one or having a high income skill is key because as a professional you’ll be valued (paid) for what you are best at, the other things you know work at the bar.
But of course apart from at the bar, let’s take for example —
I’m a Cricketer, speed and agility can help me between the wickets, save a Six at the boundary or even stump the wicket before even the batsperson get to witness. The key is speed, agility. Thereby, I’m in a way an athlete. So if I practice or use an athlete’s technique, I’ll do better at Cricket regardless. Although a bad example, you get what it is.
Or say I’m a writer, and I’d like to explore how donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes. I’ll need to be a researcher, statistician sometimes, think of the target audience. Although again a bad example, this time you get it.
Imagine being a little of a writer, pinch of research and a handful of statistics to support the writing. It’s not going to work long time. Just like how I’m floating around with this. I realize as I write, we don’t have to be a Jack or Jill of all Trades. What’s more interesting is that they are fictional characters from the 16th century rhyme.
But there are times when you don’t have a choice, most likely now during the pandemic, where either your colleagues are sent home for nothing or the computers take their place. In such cases, you will be asked to do more than what Jack or Jill are capable of.
Stay resilient. What I’m trying to say is — Achieving mastery in one or two is more often only by choice, while you enjoy the luxury to upskill yourself in your area of work. It takes time. Hence the experience.
I think this person conveyed it much better than I did:
Being a Jack of All Trades Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be
I don't like watching football (not even the Superbowl). Or baseball or basketball. Or really any organized sports at…
Although slightly rude, he makes sense sometimes in this video: