Ever heard the term, Jack of all Trades, Master of None? Most of us who use that term usually leave off the last part. Describing ourselves to others as broadly versatile seems like the best description of competence, but it is really a statement about our willingness to adapt. It is good in that sense, but incomplete in another.
I recently reviewed a book by the title, Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club in which I saw a great case for plotting one’s course in life. I admitted in that review how I fit within the 90% who have not plotted a course despite knowing how important it is.
I cannot explain why not plotting a course for your life is entirely a bad thing. An answer emerged from Liz Ryan in her article, Why ‘Jack Of All Trades’ Is The Worst Personal Brand. She makes an excellent case about the consequences of not presenting a focused image. There is great value in what she presents.
Openly declaring your vision for your life does have its risks. One of them is that you draw out imitators. When it comes to companies competing, imitation is good because the best implementation becomes available. Individuals are a different matter. An individual who draws numerous imitators may find themselves in a relentless cycle of reinvention that becomes its own process of dilution.
An example of when constant reinvention backfires is the case of when you allow someone else to manage your career. In order to be more marketable, you are convinced to pursue skills in area XYZ. A year later, you may be informed to make a strong push into skills ABC. After 5 years, you have strong skills in ABC, EFG, LMNOP, and XYZ, so you think. When you try to present those skills, well, sometimes it works, most times it does not.
Anyway, after you have reinvented yourself several times (check out my own skills history as an example), identity can become an issue. That is okay, the point is what about today and tomorrow? The challenge is to rediscover focus aligned to reality and make an unflinching drive towards optimal outcomes. Whether your vision is on public display or held close to the vest, disclosed only in resumes and interviews, having a personal vision will be obvious. You will be different and sometimes that makes all the difference.
I once knew what that was like. I accomplished some major goals in my life in the past. That is why I can say these things confidently. When you have accomplished things, small or large, a void can form. Part of being alive is you have the capacity to make a new vision and put in the work to make it a reality.