What’s Wrong With Being A Jack Of All Trades?

You know what’s always bugged me about the phrase jack of all trades, master of none?

The master of none. There are two reasons it bugs me:

  1. It’s true and I’m the perfect example of it.
  2. In today’s world, it’s irrelevant.

Being A Generalist Is No Longer A Bad Thing…

In the Middle Ages, if you only sorta knew how to repair a horse shoe, weren’t funny enough to be the king’s jester and just half-decent at farming, you were screwed.

Sometimes literally.

Daniel Defoe Put In The Pillory. Maybe he knew too much about too many things.

Today, if you know how to work a video camera, are kinda funny and can edit a little bit, you win.

Say what you will, Smosh is funny.

We still need specialists, but more and more, specialized work becomes commoditized, because at one point, a robot will do better heart surgery than a heart surgeon.

…But We Haven’t Received The Message Yet

Luckily, some people work hard to spread the word that being a generalist is not a bad thing.

People like Emilie Wapnick, who coined the term multipotentialite. Her TED talk about the topic has been viewed 4,000,000+ times.

And yet, look at the top comment:

Sigh.

If you’re a generalist, a polymath, a renaissance person, a multipotentialite, or whatever you call yourself: we need you.

The world needs jacks of all trades. And it also needs an updated version of the phrase.

How about jack of all trades, master of all?


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