Monday’s Meditation: On Being A Jack Of All Trades Vs. Being A Specialist

June 16, 2014

The secret sauce to life and work.

There’s a conversation that’s in the air as of late, and it revolves around the distinction between a jack of all trades vs. a specialist society.

It used to be that the goal was to produce and hire people who were solidly skilled at attending to all the various tasks relating to any level of work or field.

A performance review might have focused not on the areas in which one was doing exceptionally well, but in which one was lacking. “You’re doing this great, but let’s talk about how you can be doing that better,” the conversation would have gone.

Such thinking represents an antiquated model, wherein each person is expected to excel equally at all number of tasks, regardless how related or similar in nature.

It posits that one person should be able to fulfill potentially disparate work roles, and that employers should expect this capability of their employees.

I suppose that would be ideal, if any one person could be excellent at everything.

But we can’t. If we’re honest with ourselves, there are things we excel at, and things that challenge us beyond our faculties; hard work we love to do, and tasks we absolutely loathe. The only way this whole game works is if each one of us is allowed to fit our particular piece into the larger puzzle.

It behooves the employer to play to their employee’s strengths, to relieve their employees of duties they’re not suited for, and allow them instead to shine in the areas that come most naturally. And it behooves each of us to work at carving out a space for ourselves where we can give our energy primarily to the tasks that give energy to us, rather than drain us.

The secret to life is that everything works better–more smoothly, with less stress on everyone’s part–when each person is allowed to contribute via their respective strengths.

This specialist society requires that we further delineate the roles we need filled, and the purposes we possess. The more successful we become at defining and identifying, the more we will be on our way to Live Simply, which is another way of saying, to a place of peace and unblistered joy.

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