Jack of All Trades - The Multidisciplinary Spectrum S01E02

TL:DR | Master of one, or the master of none, is how the saying goes. Although does it really have to be that way? A JoAT is just one step in the Multi-Disciplinary Spectrum. Let's see how it fits in!

12 min read

Here is a video relation to this post, as well as the PolyCast!

Jack of all trades, master of none, but also better than a master of one.

Everyone always says being a jack of all trades is bad, but in reality being stagnant is bad.

I'm here to challenge your assumptions about this term, and reach into your mind about the possibility that maybe you're a jack of all trades even.

The idea of it is simple, for you are just dabbling in many different areas.

However many people forget that you still have to learn in order to dabble, which means that you are gaining an interdisciplinary array of knowledge. Regardless of depth, you are focusing on width.

This is the second episode in the #OmniContent Mini Series called "The Multi-Disciplinary Spectrum", a group of terms similar to the idea of becoming a polymath or renaissance person.

I'd like to start this post with a question. What is a Jack of All Trades?

This is part of the Multi-Disciplinary Spectrum, and if you want to see how this all fits together, then stick around to learn more!

By the end of this post you should have a clear understanding of what a JoAT is, and if you would like to watch/listen then at the top should be a link to the accompanying YouTube Video and PolyCast!

What I want to establish from this post is to align the concept of the term, and put it among others like it. So that people can have goals on what to work towards.

For example if you're a JoAT, then perhaps you get tired of dabbling, and then want to become a specialist. At that point you'd be more of a T-Shaped person, as they say in the business world. Alternatively, if all of the vast topics you love to explore keep interesting you, then keep going after them. Perhaps narrow them down a bit to what to pursue at each one time, but don't limit yourself in the long run. Then you'd be on your way to polymathy!

Many trades, one person.

The reason why people have a negative association with this term, is that when you spread yourself too thin; Then you can't pursue anything deeply.

I empathize with this notion because we have lived in a specialist society for so long, it is all most people know or think about. However there is much more time in our lives, and with deliberate practice much of that time can be used to gain more knowledge.

What I want to do is show people that it is okay to spread your interest pool a bit, and dip your hand into each cookie jar. For if you don't, then how do you really know if you are interested in that specialty?

Perhaps by doing so you would find a brand new branching path!

From a young age we are told we should know what we want to be and go pursue, but it isn't always that simple is it? I personally was lucky and knew most of what I wanted to do in life, but even for me it has changed and evolved. In order to know what your dreams truly are, then you need to experiment with various skills and find them.

“Skills are the tools you acquire in order to achieve your dreams.” – Ho Kwon Ping, Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings

You're on this OmniContent because you may feel that you are a JoAT, or maybe you are a specialist looking to see what I have say. Either way you're curious to learn more, and please keep going!

Check out the Previous episode in this series:

OmniContent #5 - Multipotentialite
The multiple potentials someone has, and the interdisciplinary life they could have. This is the start of the multidisciplinary spectrum.

How to tell the difference between useless, and useful.

In business any way you can cut costs is a win, as long as it is ethical of course. If you have three people, and one of them has the ability to do all three's jobs wouldn't you fire the other two? Maybe or maybe not, for it depends on the amount of time it would take to onboard that person into a working capacity, as well as see if they can handle the load.

A jack/jill of all trades may have the ability to do those skills, but not always in a way that is sustainable to them. Usually because of competency, which is why I created the Polymath Spectrum. It isn't they are a master of none that is the problem, but they haven't gotten to a higher level in general yet that is. Just being advanced a few key areas would make a significant difference.

Employers need to realize their potential!

If someone is lower down on the competency level of the Multi-Disciplinary Spectrum, then don't fire them. That is how the employers of our time think, well they aren't suitable for this environment let's find another. However if you were to nurture that employee, take advantage of their divergent interests, then you would have a bonafide entrepreneur on your hands.

The trick is to know what skills they have in their repertoire, and how to improve upon those baselines. From interdisciplinary novel ideas, to the clean cut work on this job on this day, and to the new innovations that follow. If you can adapt the rigid corporate structure for these unique employees, even just a little bit, there is massive rewards for you in the long run.

Basically think of it as investing in your employees, and finding out what areas you can help them grow into a polymath or "full stack" person.

Paul Barry talks about mastery in his article "Jack of All Trades, Master of None: Are New Skills Always Worth It?". Now I find his tone a bit on the negative side of this ideal, and what he says is you wouldn't add more strings to a guitar if you're only going to use half of them. Using that as an analogy of adding more skills.

The problem with that mindset is that it is too linear thinking, and when you have more skills then you increase your lateral thinking. Meaning they compound, and even a jack/jill of all trades at their low level of knowledge has a lot more to offer than someone with higher level of knowledge in just one area.

Dictionary.com talks about the idea being adept at many areas, but I would go as far as to say that a jack of all trades is someone with more a basic knowledge, or in some cases only a cocktail party level of knowledge. Although it can be varied!

What are the stepping stones to become one?

Let's say maybe you're not even at that level yet. You are a Multi, or maybe a specialist wanting to spread their wings.

Regardless on which end you are on, there is one thing you have in common... curiosity.


That curiosity whether it comes from a specialist wanting to learn more knowledge trees, or a multipotentialite wanting to dig deeper into each of your various interests. Is a crucial factor in motivating you to proceed. When new skills start to become tough to learn, as they always do, then that curiosity will help you keep a beginner's mind.

You need to be open to new ideas, and cultivate your growth mindset.

If you are a specialist then you have a history of learning, just try to translate that into new skill areas. If you're a multipotentialite starting out on your learning journey, then try to see how your new skills overlap!

How to level up to someone more proficient, whether that is a specialist if you decide to niche down, or a generalist if you want to widen your reach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu6uelewPZc

Related Post:

Jack of All Trades (Definition) | PolyInnovator
A quick run down of what a Jack/Jill of all trades means. Why it is commonly anchored to the idea of being a bad thing, but in actuality is good!

Why YOU should try adopting this mentality!

Growing your interests, expanding your intelligence's in many ways, and fighting the norms of society are literally what makes us human.

Being multi-disciplinary helps you develop multiple intelligences!

Being Polymathic or JoAT is more aligned with our global history.

You just read one of the episodes of the OmniContent, a new way of creating content, if you've only read the piece then you've only experienced part of it!

Go check out the TeleInnovator Video or the PolyCast, and get another perspective based on this concept.

My goal today was to expand your mind on the concept of becoming a jack/jill of all trades, it is not a lack of focus, or negative to be one. Just one step in the right direction!

That all Being Said...

Now you don't have to be a "master of none" to be a JoAT, there are plenty who are T-shaped and are a master of one. The ones that dabble at many things, and I think that is a really good thing for people to be.

As in I think the Jack of all trades concept is fluid, and doesn't have to be someone spread too thin, and you can have a specialty or be T-shaped; While still being a jack/jill of all trades.

I encourage you to think about that, and pursue many areas; Regardless if you're naturally multi-disciplinary, or someone who is obsessed with one area #specialist.

The call to action today is to do your own research, in each of the post in this mini-series there will be links to a lot of the sources I dug into for my own research. Go give them a look!

I did a ton of digging for this mini-series, so each of the episodes are going to have a ton of links, and the finale will have all of them (to have it all in one place).


Jack of All Trades, Master of None: Why Every New Skill Doubles Your Chance of Success
When it comes to learning new skills, “quantity is better than quality.” Become a jack of all trades, and create your own unique skillset that separates you from everyone else.
Is Being a Jack of All Trades Good or Bad? Here’s My Take
Splitting your time and energy is a choice with consequences and benefits. Here are the ups and downs of my experience as a jack of all trades.
Jack the Master of all Trades | Hacker Noon
Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash
The fallacy of being a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ developer - Parker Software
‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ is an idiom that’s becoming pervasive in development. But does it draw a line that doesn’t need to exist?


Jack of All Trades, Master of None
…often better than a master of one


Jack of all trades has been actively involved for decades
He turned a hobby into a business
Succeeding as an In-house Creative Online Class | LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com
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‘One True Calling’ Isn’t For All: 5 Talented ‘Jack of all Trades’ - Do Good Jobs - NZ’s #1 ethical jobs board
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The Surprising Benefits (and Pitfalls) of Being a “Jack of All Trades”
People look down on the multitalented—even the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” has a bit of a negative caveat. But there are a lot of hidden perks that come with being a Jack. These are the best reasons you might want to reconsider the notion that a Jack of All Trades can’t be equally as…
Being a Jack of All Trades Doesn’t Mean You’re a Master of None
You’ve probably heard the derogatory saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.” It implies that by trying to learn many things, you give up mastery of any of them. Quora designer David Cole says this is a myth.


Jack-Of-All-Trades, Master Of None: The 1 Skillset You Need As A Startup Founder
Today, being the glue is just another way of saying jack-of-all-trades. When my co-founder and I launched our first startup together, we were more than just entrepreneurs. For a period of time, we were also our company’s product designer, marketing director, finance lead, and human resources manager…
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We summarize and discuss each of over 80 theories about entrepreneurship in two pages (or less) and provide links to reference materials.
Are You a Jill or Jack of All Trades? - IntegratedWealthSystems.com
If you consider yourself a Jill or Jack of all trades, you’re probably an entrepreneur. The clincher is that along with that handle comes the inevitable “master of none.” It’s …
Jack of all trades, Master of none?
Q: Would you recommend specialising in a particular design skill-set or is it best to be versatile?
The Top 5 Reasons to Be a Jack of All Trades (#19)
Specialization isn’t always a good thing. Photo from 1951 assembly line. Are the days of Da Vinci dead? Is it possible to, at once, be a world-class painter, engineer, scientist, and more? &#…
Honestly this video is so important it is on here twice.

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