I expect you know the adage ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’ and maybe you think it is apt and wise advice – I disagree.
Ten thousand hour rule
Yes, in order to master something you need to practice it a lot. According to Malcolm Gladwell, this is 10,000 hours if you want to become an expert (although I think originally he was talking about being a Master in chess) but do we need or want to be an expert in everything? What’s wrong being competent in a few things?
Love of learning
One of my top strengths is love of learning (VIA). This might have been a surprise to my teachers at school as it wasn’t evident but I put that down to the type of teaching that (for me) squeezed out the joy and the interest of many subjects and made them boring.
Stick to one thing?
As an adult, though, I love learning new things. In my thirties I decided to take some basic qualifications in maths and English that I hadn’t at school. I learned to knit and even made some of my children’s clothes, I took pianos lessons and taught myself some computer skills. I can still do these things adequately but I’m no Master in them. A common phrase I heard from people is ‘What are you doing now?!’, it was not said unkindly but nevertheless in a mildly critical way that implied that there is something wrong about trying so many different things.
Follow what interests you
Over a period of about fifteen years, I studied various subjects, one usually leading on from the other. I did a 2-year part time course at St Mary’s University to qualify as a Clinical Hypnotherapist, followed by another 2-year part time course at Buckinghamshire New University to gain a MSc Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP). During this time I travelled to India to learn the skill of ‘Laughter Yoga’ and be trained by the founder of the concept Doctor Madan Kataria. I even wrote a book about it ‘Laugh Your Way to Happiness’ (Watkins publishers). Am I a Master in just one of those subjects? No! Better! I consider myself a Master of them all separately and in combination. In fact, my mastery of each of them is enhanced by the extra knowledge and experience I bring to the subject.
Being a therapist, teacher or coach requires the application of more than just the theory, life experience counts as well. There is the world of difference between being a therapist in your twenties compared to when you are in your forties or fifties. My life experience from age twenty until now adds up to over 372,000 hours and although during much of this I was asleep, I fitted in a variety of life experiences in my waking hours. I believe I have exceeded Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 rule in each of the disciplines I am qualified in, even if I agreed with this premise.
Not all adages are true or relevant
So, in response to the suggestion that anyone who is known for being adept or qualified in more than just one thing is necessarily a ‘Jack of all Trades’, I would like to set the record straight – Lesley Lyle, Master of Some – not just one!
Please note: I am an early riser and frequently wake up with thoughts and questions on my mind. I write them down and record them in these short unedited, un-researched, unscientific bits of writing. They are written in a half asleep hypnopompic state and should not be regarded as anything more than what they are – random thoughts and musings. For sensible subjects and writing please visit Positive Psychology Learning website