Jack of all trades, master of none, though often better than a master of one.Adam Savage
We all have grown up listening to this household proverb. And during the times I grew up, it was indubitably not the most pleasing things to listen to or be referred to as. Although I always felt all of us are jacks of all trades, and couldn’t understand why the society was enamored with masters. Why were the masters valued? What did they do differently? Why do we need to listen to them and most of the time not even ask them questions, because they are masters!!
As I made my way into the real world, professional life, I did make choices based on the prejudice of being a Master. It was seeded in me, that jack of all trades is something to stay away from. And over the past 10 years, with the advent of social media and when google and WhatsApp universities have more penetration than even real school education, all the views seem to have totally changed.
Being a jack of all trades is considered the need for the hour. Multiple streams of revenue, entrepreneurship, hustle, side hustle, social media influencing, affiliate marketing, and what not?
Why are masters valued?
Mastering a task takes about 10,000 hours of practice according to a bestselling book called Outliers. This landmark study has shaped the careers of many big players including Ed Sheeran. What happens over 10,000 hours of practicing the same thing?
I feel, as a medical trainee, we imbibe things doing them over and over again over a period of 8.5 years. We start to work at a spinal level. Most of the basic work is reflex. We also get the power to further conceptualize things and ideas over preexisting logic. When you do a task over and over, and you also have a thorough understanding of the logic and functioning behind it, you can add a little bit of your own tweak to it to make it more efficient.
Anthony Fauci, has been working with viruses and bacterias for 4 decades. In his late 70’s, he is now the head of the largest organization of infectious diseases and the advisor to the white house COVID19 task force. More than that, he is suddenly a household name and everyone follows what he says like disciples. Why? Only because everyone values his mastery, his experience, his knowledge, and science.
What about jacks of all trades?
The world we live in has changed so quickly right in front of our eyes. When I was a kid, taking science was considered the only right thing to do. Music, photography, dance, arts, and media were considered extra-curricular activities and not something to be pursued in life. Internet was considered a source of distraction.
Now, with the advent of the internet and pertinent use of social media, everything is a profession. You can do what you love, be creative, do art forms, and also earn a good living at the same time. You can dive into more than one art form, juggle with a couple of different streams you like and shift professions if you’re not happy with something.
What is right, what is not is a formidable question to be answered. Doing what you love to do, having the freedom to live your life the way you want or reading, researching, and becoming an expert at something both make equal sense at this time.
I frankly don’t have an answer to what works for me. I am a confused product of a time when masters were respected and am living in a time when without being a jack you cannot survive. Why else would a doctor write a blog otherwise?
I would love to listen to your thoughts about which of the two you prefer and why!!