Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jack of All Trades

While stumbling around the internet, I came across this article, and a particular passage caught my eye.

When sharpening your career skills, focus more on less. Think in terms of Karate: A black belt seems far more impressive than a brown belt. But does a brown belt really seem any more impressive than a red belt? Probably not to most people. Remember that society elevates experts high onto a pedestal. Hard work matters, but not if it’s scattered in diverse directions. So narrow your focus on learning fewer career related skills and master them all.

It brought me back to my first annual review at my previous job.  While I had struggled some (no more than any other graduate transitioning into a full time job), there had been a few areas in which I had shown real strength.  Recognizing this, and finding that there were a few that I legitimately enjoyed, I sought to deepen my expertise in those areas.  It seemed that my bosses had other ideas.

"We're going to try and get you into a bigger variety of projects, some different stuff," they'd told me.  I thought that was kind of stupid and resented being pushed in what I felt were too many directions.  Granted, broad knowledge is never a bad thing, but I was well acquainted with the term "jack of all trades, master of none," and the somewhat less popular "we have twenty goddamn people in this group and the things I'm good at are the things the group is lacking.  Instead of pushing all this new shit on me, how about letting me grow into the authority in these subjects that the group could use?"  My biggest fears were realized as my focus was lessened on things I was really, really good at, and forced into areas in which I never felt comfortable.

I'm an extremely intelligent person.  If you want to believe various sites around the internet, my IQ is between 150 and 160.  If you want to believe my actual test scores, it's 148, which is in the 99.93rd percentile.  I remember taking career aptitude tests in high school and scoring above the 90th percentile in every field except manual dexterity.  I've been blessed with the ability to perform above at an above average level in a great variety of fields.  The problem with that is there's only so much of me to go around.  If the variety is too great, 'above average' is my ceiling, and things can get much worse.

I need to be able to focus, and most of the time I can do that on my own.  But there will be times in which  lack the experience, or authority to focus myself.  This is one of the many areas in which my previous employer failed miserably.  (Though to be perfectly fair, some of that blame falls upon myself for not having been more vocal.)

In the end, it's just nice to be able to read something like the above and realize that I knew myself better than I thought, and earlier than I thought.

No comments:

Post a Comment