Is calling someone a “jack of all trades, master of none” an insult or a compliment? The complete saying was originally “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” The phrase means that a person is a generalist rather than a specialist, versatile and adept at many different types of work and activities. A “Jack” (or Jill) knows how to do a little bit of everything, but it often comes at the cost of never mastering one particular skill. The phrase was originally used to describe a playwright who spent a great amount of time trying to act and work in theatres. He would help create the stages, the sets, and the costumes. He would memorize lines and attempted to direct the plays. This so-called jack of all trades was William Shakespeare.

Do you feel like you’re not exceptionally great at a specific singular endeavor? Perhaps you will benefit from the strengths that accompany a jack of all trades? While I believe I am on the path to mastering several important items in my life, I personally enjoy the lifestyle of learning and growing stronger in a wide variety of skills and experiences. For instance, instead of dedicating myself to becoming an elite long-distance runner, I find life more exciting and adventurous by training to become simply competent at running while also focusing on weightlifting, mountain bike riding, mixed martial arts training, seasonal sports, lake sports, swimming, plus, enjoying hobbies like playing guitar, blogging, podcasting, and traveling. I am certainly not elite at any of the aforementioned items, but I absolutely love participating in each one. I could list similar examples for my professional skills, personal skills, and many other subject matters. I am consistently seeking new endeavors to participate, as I enjoy accumulating a wide variety of skillsets and experiences which I believe gives me an edge in my personal and professional life.

In fact, a jack of all trades approach to life strengthens the following 5 skills.

  1. Adaptability: The jack of all trades builds the ability to adapt to new circumstances, which provides a tremendous advantage compared a rigid mindset.
  2. Learning: The jack of all trades develops a thirst for learning, and more importantly, understands the commitment and processes needed for effective learning.
  3. Leadership: The jack of all trades grows a wide-ranging list of skills and experiences which provides an edge in becoming a great leader. Great leaders must possess a good understanding on all aspects of how people and organizations operate.
  4. Confidence: The jack of all trades enhances confidence through preparation, action, lessons learned, and achievement while accumulating a variety of skills and experiences.
  5. Self-Discovery: A jack of all trades understands strengths and weaknesses, which improves decision making, time management, and delegation skills.

Are you a jack of all trades or a master of one? What new skills or experiences will you develop?

Live The Pursuit of Growth