The Ark

Whatever floats your boat...

Jack of all trades, master of none. I wonder if this is a phenomena of recent history. An inclination to dabble in this, tip toe in that. Small bits of exposure to lots of interests in an adhd kind of way rather than focusing in and becoming proficient at one thing.

I see it everywhere. Over the years, I have worked with people with this affliction and been guilty of this very thing myself. I’ll do this and on the side, I’ll do that. A wee bit of exposure here, a bit of beginner’s luck there.

I worked with a woman many years ago who by any standard was one of the most intelligent people I had ever met. It was hard for her to make idle conversation with people because she was so much more intelligent than most that she just didn’t communicate well with, well, normal people.

She was constantly looking for something fulfilling in her life. She was just always a step away from finding whatever it was that she needed. Like me, she was a hairdresser with more education than she needed for the job. Like me, she had about a million hobbies. Unlike me, she had not decided what it was she wanted to do when she grew up. She enjoyed being a designer. She thrived on the creative aspect of the job, and to be truly successful in this industry, as many others, the business end of it is an often ignored but vital part of the plan. That was thrilling to her too. Planning out how she was going to reach her goals, planning promotions, ongoing education, all filled her with enthusiasm.

The problem was, she kept missing one vital component for her to feel successful. So she would keep looking. She tried every new gadget that came on the market. She tried selling her hobbies. She was, in the 3 years we worked together, a part-time photographer, free-lance writer, jewelry maker, painter, sculptor, ceramics, glass and porcelain –er, a tarot card reader, liquor store attendant and seamstress.  She also loved to cook and bake, but during the time I knew her, she had not tried making money at either of those. AND, whatever she was doing, she was talking about one of the other things.

The poor gal had an extremely difficult time making ends meet because she never made quite enough money. I suggested once that she do her own Tarot card reading and see what it said. She said that it wouldn’t work that way but tried it anyway. When I asked her about the result, she said, “It didn’t work that way.” I suspect it worked just about as well as all of her other schemes.

I was a bit like her at one time. I had to do extra on the side until I built up my skill set and clientele’ but I tried to always keep my mind on the goal. One job, five or 6 days a week, with time enough for my family and doing other things I enjoy. It took a while but I did it.

My supposition that whatever I was focused on was what I would be successful at turned out to be fairly accurate. When I kept my eye on the goal, planned and worked toward certain outcomes, I had a much better chance of accomplishing a thing or three. Whatever was forefront in my mind, and this is still true, is where I manage to move forward, make headway. Some suggest it’s the law of attraction. That whatever I put out into the universe, the universe will go to work fulfilling my desires. I call it hard work. After all, the universe isn’t going to give me anything I don’t deserve.

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Comment by BlancheNoE on January 26, 2011 at 10:33am

True, a point. I am a Jane of all trades and master of none but my goal has never been to make money. My goal is to leave behind as much cool stuff as possible when it's my turn to take that ultimate trip. I find that when I follow my creative whims, I'm never disappointed. I was lucky to have a wise father who taught me to always have a "fall-back" (real job) so that I could support my hobbies. At the time he said it, I was insulted because I thought it meant he didn't believe I could be a rock-star. Years later when I was playing my music live for money and absolutely hating it (the industry is VERY ugly) I finally understood. He knew before I did that what I REAlly wanted to do was write and record songs, paint paintings, sculpt sculptures, build furniture, sew pretty things, write stories, garden, commune with nature, pet wild animals, dance silly dances,..etc. and so on. Now, focus certainly does apply to each of my individual endeavors. Many a projects were left on the floor or thrown in the trash in my youth but now that I am older and wiser, I know better the projects that will keep my attention to the end and only choose to begin those. I buckled down and secured a job that supplies me with sufficient capitol to support myself and my hobbies. I wasn't planning on a majorly debilitating hereditary disease but even with that I have the option of moving to Europe if I have to stop working so I feel very fortunate. 

It is so funny to me now to be seeing myself praise my father for his wisdom. We had a very tumultuous relationship after my mother died and we discovered that he'd been having affairs for years,..and now I finally understand that he was just like the rest of us,..human,..and to think it was my mother, who I held in ridiculously high regard, that pegged me as " Jane of All Trades,...". They were both right.

Great blog. Thanks for making me think !

Comment by Dana (scribblers sanctuary) on January 26, 2011 at 11:30am
Amy - it's a live in the moment while planning for the future thing for me. Pay attention to what I'm doing right this moment and making sure that I'm prepared for tomorrow allows me equal play/work time. When you consider that my work counts as play time too, I have many reasons to be grateful. thanks for reading. :c )
Comment by Pypermarru1 on January 30, 2011 at 7:11pm

I had a friend similar to the lady you describe.  I find it to be crazy making but she just keeps on keeping on, never quite focused on any one thing for any length of time.  She never quite hitting the mark on any endeavor.

Drove me nuts.

I'm so opposite of that - I laser focus on something - nail it - move to the next focal point. 

Drove her nuts.

Despite the life style differences we got on great.


I'm already missing your blogs.  You are such a talented writter, Dana.  Thanks for posting blogs here.  I really look forward to them.

Comment by NatureJunkie on February 9, 2011 at 4:21pm

I also knew someone (more than one, actually) who would dabble in her interests and give them up before excelling at anything. I think she was interested in things as long as they were easy, and when they reached the level of requiring work and practice, she moved on to something else. So she not not only wasn't a master of anything, she wasn't even a Jack of anything.


I'm like Pyper: "I laser focus on something - nail it - move to the next focal point." Life is long enough for most of us to explore many interests, and I think anything worth doing is worth doing well.


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