If you’re anything like me – a polymath, a generalist, or whatever you call yourself; here’s an article you definitely want to read.
As a kid, I had a lot of questions. How do I pretend not to be interested in the things I enjoy doing? Why don’t people love to diversify? If it’s best to be a master of one, why do we love choices?
The unanswered question
- A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
- If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one
Yet, you’d also hear
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
- Kill two birds with one stone
These sayings contribute to the reasons you are confused and afraid of making unapologetic decisions to change your own life.
Listen, opinions are cheap. It’s the cheapest commodity in the world. I’m sure you’ve looked around to get an answer to the question “Should I focus on one thing?”. Or you’ve been told by a friend or family that you should focus on a single thing. Trust me, there’s always a disparity between answers. Everybody believes something is right, and that’s what makes us human. Do this, don’t do this.
Why Jack of all trades, Master of none is a myth
As humans, we love choices. And it’s because we love having control. Choices = control = survival
Now, here comes the paradox of advice
- If you want to be successful – Do one thing
- If you want to be successful – Have multiple streams of income
How do you have multiple streams of income if you are not into multiple trades?
“Jack of all trades” doesn’t always have to be trying to become a doctor, lawyer, and engineer at the same time. While this would take a lifetime to achieve, it doesn’t take out the fact that it’s possible to be a master of all, but something would have to be given in return – Time.
This won’t go without saying – You don’t have to be a master in anything at all to be super successful. To have to be a master of one can be boring and regrettable.
It’s a no-brainer to own an eCommerce store, be a gym instructor, and run a startup at the same time. To doubt the person is unfair, you should question the process. Is it well optimized?
Master of One
In today’s competitive world, the “hard-easy” way out is to be an expert. To be an expert comes with a price. You have to give in your time and sacrifice a few things along the way. This is the road a lot of people avoid, and that’s what makes it a glorified, overrated state by those who live it.
Life is a blend of multiple processes, simultaneously running to achieve a common goal. What if you don’t have the time to “Do one thing at a time”. What if you have to be at the right place, at the right time to nib an opportunity?
Doing one thing to achieve success is not for everybody. While money and authority are a primary goal for all, not everybody is interested in being in the top 1%. You might just be happy doing so many things at the same time. The excitement you get when switching between activities is the natural biological response for “I’m human!”.
In contrast, doing one thing every day wears you out. A lot of people enjoy what they do for whatever reasons and it’s unfair to judge them for taking that route.
Should you focus on one thing?
This is a question only you can answer for yourself. You need to be able to identify your areas of interest. Check out a post on how you can find your purpose in life by identifying 4 unique areas.
“Your ikigai is at the intersection of what you are good at and what you love doing,” says Hector Garcia, the co-author of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.
Personally, I think an average human should be able to handle up to 4 trades/hustles/crafts without any problem, whether you’re doing it for the money or it’s just what you love. There is a fine line between an optimized system and a disorganized system.
Focus on the process, not the result.
There’re a couple of reasons that make one be a jack of all trades – multipotentials, the quest for happiness, and FOMO (Fear of missing out).
However, your greatest enemy and companion is time. Waste it, and you’d hear something like “I told you to focus on one thing”, Optimize it, and it can be “How do you get so much work done?”.
To better put things into perspective, there’s nothing wrong with being a jack of many trades if you eliminate distractions and optimize your systems. People are quick to judge the process, and it’s your duty to ignore them and do what makes you happy.