Pick a Trade, Jack // You Can't Do Everything

"He’s a jack of all trades, master of none."

It’s possible that this might eventually be on my tombstone. Well, as long as we aren’t including stuff like automobile repairs or home maintenance stuff in the category of “all trades.” If we are, then I’m not a jack of them. I don’t like working on cars or fixing stuff that breaks around my house. In fact, if I could live in a centrally located tent and walk everywhere, I’d seriously consider making that move. I mean, the worst that could happen is that I’d need to walk down to the corner store and get more duct tape to repair the leaky roof. Like $2-3 and 5 minutes...I’m down for that style and cost when it comes to my home repairs.

While I might not be a master handyman in terms of the concrete "fixing of things," I can’t help but find myself dabbling in all things creative. I love writing. I’m passionate about photography. I thoroughly enjoy sketching and hand lettering. I play a couple different instruments and enjoy singing. I would love to give sculpting and pottery a try, and I have fun painting even though my creations mirror those found in the local elementary school art gallery.

This reality can leave me (and anyone in a similar situation) with a dilemma, how do I pick what I'm going to focus on? Through research and observation, it’s clear that the true secret to success in something (anything!) is consistent, excellent effort. So how do I reconcile my love for all of these things with my desire to be wildly successful at something?

The truth is, I can’t. I mean, I can eventually be successful at something, and then move on and become successful at something else, and so on. But if I want to be wildly successful at something, I will have to select a single discipline to pursue passionately and with excellence until I achieve my potential. I firmly believe this to be the case for a couple reasons.

Masters Respect Their Craft

Proficiency requires dedication. Chasing fervently after one thing for a period of time and then jumping the tracks to pursue something else isn’t dedication, it’s adultery. Being fickle isn’t a formula for success, it’s a formula for mediocrity. Masters recognize this and determine that they will supply their chosen discipline with a steady diet of commitment and patience. They practice daily to improve. They eliminate distractions and focus their abilities with laser-like precision. Not just for a day, week, month, or year. They do this for a lifetime. Granted, they might have the occasional hobby or they might cross train in a different discipline, but everything they do is focused on improving their mind, spirit, and body for the express purpose of improving their craft. Everything else is secondary. This is the respect for the craft that a master must demonstrate. As the years pass, the master is recognized, their art is established, and their influence grows.

Masters Respect Their Audience

Just as the master will respect their craft enough to pursue it wholeheartedly, they will also respect their audience. Often, I’ll end up thinking about martial arts masters, artists, and writers as I begin to daydream about various masters. A new master that I’ve been fascinated with for about a year or so now (I'm late to the party, I know!) is Gordon Ramsay, and he’s a prime example of both of the points in this article. Gordon oozes unadulterated passion with every word he speaks, every show he produces, every video of his that pops up in my Facebook feed, and in every dish he cooks. He thoroughly respects his craft, but he also has the utmost respect for his audience. He obsesses over every aspect of every single dish that he places his seal of approval on. He wants those that taste his dishes to delight, not just in the fact that Gordon Ramsay cooked it, but in the pure pleasure of an entree cooked with creativity, care, and expertise.

Do you want to be a master of your craft?

Devote yourself to each “dish” you serve your audience. Lovingly craft your music, your words, your art, with consuming passion and creativity. Serve it to those anxiously waiting to consume with it humble confidence and move on to the creation of your next offering. Work hard to master the basics, learn the rules, and then learn how to break them. Enjoy a hobby enough to glean something that you can then apply to your craft. Pursue your art diligently and it will reward you generously. It’s a relationship, a love triangle if you will. Respect yourself, your craft, and your audience, and your work will eventually be the talk of the town!