by Mitch Mitchell
Two years ago I did an interview on a radio show talking about the subject of reinventing oneself. The interviewer was very interested in the concept of how one can start out doing one thing, yet have many skills that probably weren’t thought of before in finding different ways to make money.
A few months afterwards I was thinking about the concept of “jack of all trades and master of none” and wondered if that was really true or not. After all, why can’t someone be good at many things? Who says a person has to stick with only one thing to be successful?
There are many precedents for my thoughts. Think of CEOs of major corporations as an example. Many of these guys are actually professional CEOs. They don’t know a thing about the product or services of a company when they start interviewing for the job, yet they’re able to go from one company to the next. There is no particular school one studies at to learn CEO-ism, is there? Now, some may say that what they’re skilled at is management and leadership, and that’s their specialization; I tend to differ. What I see are people with the ability to adapt themselves to whatever the new challenge is because of the scope of experiences they have to call upon.
I think on my own experiences. My background is in health care finance, but I was always at a director level. I was on committees helping to create management and leadership programs, which some might have considered outside my purview, but I did it. So, being able to provide both types of services goes back to my professional training; does that make me a generalist or a specialist in two areas? Of course you know about my internet and social media skills and presentations, and I like to think I do those fairly well; does that still only make me a generalist or can I claim being a specialist there as well?
One thing everyone will have to agree with me on is that every member of PCA is an expert in everything else, based on our conversations. How many of us are truly relegated to only one thing that we can do? If the opportunity arose for you to do something for payment that was something you knew you could do because of your background, would you turn it away, saying “I don’t do that anymore”, or would you say “Sure, I’m the one for the job?”
My basic point is that everyone is both a specialist and a generalist at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with being able to do more than one thing. I had some people question me when I said I’d never take an assignment that I didn’t feel I had the qualifications for. They said that one should never turn work down, just find someone else who can do it, pay them a portion of your money, and keep the rest. If that’s allowable, then why isn’t it allowable for a person to be able to do multiple things they’re actually skilled at?
Just something else to think about as a consultant; what say you?