For a long time in my business, I struggled with being a jack of all trades. I couldn’t figure out how being a jack of all trades was a good thing. Over time, I found that everywhere I turned, people were saying I needed to find that one thing.
Becoming a jack of all trades started at a young age. When we were kids, my mom’s favorite thing to tell us was ‘go outside and find something to do’. Luckily, we lived in the country, so we had plenty of options to keep our minds occupied. I had a barn, a treehouse, chicken coops, rivers, and a stream and those became my playground.
It probably was around the age of 10 when I really fell into my own sense of “get it done yourself.” My jack of all trades mentality began because I really liked building things by myself. I had the most fun when my dad would allow me to use his tools, and I’d tinker with scraps of wood he had in his woodpile.
When we moved to a place where we had a really big barn and an abandoned chicken coop, my dad told me that I could have the chicken coop, and it was mine to do with as I choose. I was over the moon happy, and from then on, 90% of the time you would find me in the chicken coop. I would be in there doing any number of things depending on what phase of the project you caught me in.
Becoming a Jack of All Trades
When the chicken coop became mine, my first order of business (after cleaning out all the poop) was gutting the entire interior. In between the age of 11 and 12, that was my fun. I started gathering pieces of wood and planks from the sections of the barn that my dad had taken down and started building a floor.
Yup, my idea of preteen fun was building floors in a chicken coop.
My way of learning was to watch my dad do his building and then repeat it. So after the floor was done, I proceeded to make countertops, and I even managed to do a loft space at the top.
Once the interior was completed, my sister wanted to play mud pies and pretend like we were pioneer women in our chicken coop. I remember playing with her a couple times, but it just wasn’t fun for me. I wanted another project. I needed another project. So I decided to build a front porch to the chicken coop. In fact, the only picture I have of me and my little brother shows me plowing away at the front porch of this chicken coop and looking for more wood to build something else.
At one point later down the line, I tried building a treehouse and succeeded in making it just big enough to sit two people. It didn’t have a roof or even much of a wall, just kind of a railing, but it was still a treehouse. Looking back, I found that even though I never became a master carpenter, I managed to do quite a bit just by figuring it out myself.
From Builder to Caretaker
My parents got divorced when I was 13, and we had to move, and my jack of all trades shifted to being the keeper and caretaker of my siblings. I already knew how to cook and was used to tinkering with writing and art and things from school. Over the course of the years, though, when you’re living with a single mom, you’ve got to figure things out. Whenever we would move, I remember I was in charge of the electronics, setting up the TV and VCR, and making all of the things work. As I got older, my tasks graduated to things like installing ceiling fans and organizing the move itself.
When I got married, that sense of rolling up my sleeves and just doing it myself continued on. I remember living in a really small country house — and I didn’t really have a whole lot to my name at that time — but I still went ahead and cleaned out the abandoned buildings. At the time, I worked in a shipping factory.
Having this sense of doing it yourself is empowering, and now, as a single woman, sometimes there’s no other choice.
[bctt tweet=”Having this sense of doing it yourself is empowering, and now, as a single woman, sometimes there’s no other choice.” username=”freshtakepro”]
Focusing Versus Mastering
One thing I realized about how being a jack of all trades is beneficial is that I’m a little fearless when it comes to trying things. Now, I don’t think I’ll be jumping out of airplanes anytime soon (that’s a whole other story), but I am far less hesitant doing new things myself because it’s what I’m used to.
I found that this lack of fear has helped me in so many ways — including my decision to start my business. When I started my business, I had lost my job, there were no prospects, and I had to make something happen. I was sitting there wondering what would come next for me, and I realized I had to make something happen for myself and for my family. So I just started.
Yes, I was scared. I had only $700 dollars to make this thing go, and with the Lord’s help and a lot of prayers, doors just opened. Referrals came, and I was in business.
I’ve been in business almost five years now, and I’m currently in a season where referrals have declined some, things have slowed down a little bit, and I started feeling a little afraid again. I’ve been wondering if I needed to go back to finding a niche, reevaluating all my services, or reinventing who I was. I was again trying to find the one thing I needed to master.
While you need to find the one thing to master in terms of focus, you don’t need to necessarily be a master of all things.
I started realizing that my sweet spot is rolling up my sleeves and not being afraid, diving on in, and figuring it out. My ability to figure things out is one of the reasons why a lot of my colleagues like working with me. I might not know the answer, but I’m going to darn well find out. My clients like it because I take on their problems, and I just find solutions to them.
There ARE times when I wish I was a master at something. But there are benefits to being a jack of all trades. We’re resourceful. And while we may not have the full answer to a question, we can figure out the starting point and work forward from there.
Embracing Your Diverse Skill Set
For me, being a jack of all trades is good because it’s what generates my ideas. It’s what drives this bus that is Lysa Greer and trying to find that “master” path has just been slowly killing me because I can’t pick a lane. If I try to pick a lane, I realize very quickly that it’s not the only lane I want to be in. I’m the person in an ice cream shop sampling a little of everything because I don’t want to commit to one particular flavor.
I’ve had to learn to embrace this when it comes to my work because in doing so, I have now found that I’m able to bring all the little bits that I learned from different circumstances to help create the solutions for clients and their unique problems.
I’ve dipped my toe in a lot of things because I was lucky enough to have a previous boss that allowed me the opportunity to do almost anything I wanted. He hired me as a salesperson, but I was able to get exposure in all the facets of broadcasting. From promotions to commercial writing, voice-over work, being on the air, working as a sales manager, and even working as an event coordinator — I did it all. Someone could easily say that I didn’t master any of those things, but the reality is that I executed well on every single one.
Social media is one place where this concept of needing to be a master really weighs me down. I see the shiny people with their fancy clothes, their makeup faces, their perfect hair, and their clear message and think they’ve got it all figured out because they know exactly who they are. Yet, here I am, having an identity crisis.
[bctt tweet=”Being a jack of all trades is, in fact, its own mastery.” username=”freshtakepro”]
But the reality is there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not perfect, and I’m not a master, and that’s okay.
I am a jack of all trades, and that means I can adapt and be flexible. I can roll with the punches in the truest sense because I’ve dipped my toe in a lot of different pools. Being a jack of all trades is, in fact, its own mastery, and I, for one, am going to embrace this title.