Mastering a Set of Skills


“Jack of all trades, master of none” has been a popular expression used for decades, in reference to someone who’s dabbled in a variety of pursuits, and not gained experience by specializing in one. In fact, this is only part of the expression, I will come back to the full version a bit later.

So what does this phrase mean, exactly? According to Webster’s dictionary, it means “the skill or talent of being able to do something well”. Another definition puts it this way: “capable of combining or employing a variety of skills”. I tend to prefer the second definition, as it gives more credit to the original idea – that of being a jack of all trades, master of nothing. This is something that’s necessary if you expect to be successful in today’s economy, where businesses are competing for just about everything.

A jack of all trades isn’t a bad description of a generalist. For example, let’s say you have knowledge of medical terminology, but not of accounting terms. That’s a generalist. Your services would be limited to providing medical services, accounting services, and so on. You wouldn’t be able to do any of the three things listed above, and you’d be considered a jack of all trades.

If you’re willing to work hard, but are not willing to specialize, you’re a jack-of-all-trades. You can find great success in marketing your services, but if you aren’t an expert at anything else, your skills won’t be in demand. It is the goal of most business owners, of course, to become experts in one area. That way, they can specialize in that area and bring their expertise to the table.

Skill stacking

Skill stacking, also known as multiple skill mastery, is the act of using several different skills you possess throughout your entire life and combining them into a greater whole than the sum of all the skills individually. The good thing about skill stacking though is you can combine most everyday skills with mastery of another. This gives you extra power and versatility, which will come in handy in any given situation.

“Jack of all trades, master of none.” This is a common phrase used to describe someone who has dabbled in so many different skills, not to mention having gained much more experience by working on them all at one time. But the reality of this kind of individual is that they often find themselves with very few skills when they get a chance to apply them in a new job or career. There is no way that a person can truly be a master of everything. The person will always be able to learn something new and apply it to their job.

Jack of all trades is an example of this. A person can’t become a master at anything without first learning to apply the skills learned and honing them in order to do the best that they possibly can. Some people can only think outside the box when they are working on a particular skill.

“A Jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

This is the full version of this expression. Now, the interpretation is a bit different, isn’t it?  Personally, I am a fan of being a jack of all trades. Once you master a set of skills, you are usually going to be able to move to the next level very quickly and apply what you have learned. This means that a person will never have to spend hours training themselves to apply the skills that they already have. This is because the knowledge that they already have is already in place and is ready to use.

So, the key to mastering a set of skills is finding something that works with your real-world experience and then applying what you have to make the most out of it. If you are not able to master your own skills, then you are not going to have the confidence to apply what you have learned to the best of your job or career. If you are confident enough, then you can move to the next level and master more skills.

Top Reasons To Be Generalist aka Jack of All Trades and Stack Your Skills

  •  A broad range of skills allows you to see the unseen interconnectedness. As technology becomes a commodity with the democratization of information and decreasing costs in hardware and software development alike, it’s oftentimes, not always, but the big-picture generalists who can predict, innovate and rise to power the fastest.
  • Lack of intellectual stimulation, not superlative material wealth beyond a certain point, is what drives us to depression and emotional bankruptcy. Generalizing and experimenting prevent this while over-specialization nearly guarantees it.
  • Experimenting with a diversity of intellectual playgrounds leads to more confidence, more empathy instead of fear, and defensive behavior.
  • If your entire self-worth is wrapped up in one skill set, one perspective from which you could argue, you are more concerned with being right than with getting results.
  • Being Jack of many trades is more fun 🙂
  • Leadership requires considering many different perspectives and therefore requires many different skills outside of one’s core competency