In North America we have been using the phrase: “Jack of all trades, master of none” since 1721. That’s a long time. Somehow during my lifetime it’s gotten worse. For many of us it seems to have reached and gone beyond overload. We are now wearing way too many hats.
When I started working back in the early 70s the internal structure of businesses was more hierarchical. There were layers. It mirrored the thousands of years of class structure. An executive had a secretary (yep, that’s what they were called) who managed all the administrivia so the executives could do what they did best. That might have been managing people or product. It might have been negotiating deals. Whatever it was, they were given the room to do it.
Somewhere in the 90’s when computers became more accessible and “user friendly” the Organization Chart “flattened out”. What that meant was that very few people had an individual assistant (the new name for the secretarial function). Most people were on their own. They did all their own correspondence, appointment setting, supply ordering, etc. Great. (It certainly improved the possibilities for women in the workforce and I am ALL for that. As women we were and are generally more successful than most men at multitasking. We’ve literally been doing it for ages.)
Now we have all sorts of whizzy programs and apps to help. That seems efficient at first glance. And for those of us that like to exercise some control, it allows us to do that. We do it all. And at what cost?
Sure, we know we aren’t as good at some things as others. Maybe we even find resources to help with those. Personally, I could not function without my marketing and tech support. But and however, instead of being able to really immerse myself in my true talents I am constantly distracted by needing to learn how to handle something new. I’m stopped dead in my tracks to find someone to fix something that is way beyond my skill level while the techno wizard is stopped dead in their tracks when it comes to some non-techo thing.
The result of all this is that we all get distracted and pulled away from our real talent, the thing that is our unique gift, what we alone can do. Our true talents get lost and we hardly have time for them. Instead of exercising our gift, we are busy doing the work of wearing many hats at the same time.
The fundamental problem is that if we try to learn how to do better at things that we are fundamentally not good at we can go from being crappy to being adequate. If, however, we can improve the places where we already have talent we can go from being good to being stellar. The real trick to this is finding ways to get support from people who have talent in the areas you don’t so you have time to improve and use your talent.
What can you do to give yourself more room for your talent?
If you’d like to explore how to have your money support your talent rather than distract you from it give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com
Shell Tain, The Untangler