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How to overcome being a Jack of all trades and a master of none

Updated on June 9, 2014

Here's someone who understands this phrase pretty well:

  • A college graduate magna cum laude, with summa cum laude a few hundredths of a point away
  • A prolific journalism major with many stories under her belt, but not the most, and not the ones that won awards
  • A dependable employee who would get regular raises and praise, but not the Employee of the Year award
  • An artist good enough to sell her work and win 1st prizes at shows, but not good enough to win Best of Show
  • A runner good enough to make it to conferences, but not to win

Many people are used to nearly making the cut, but not quite reaching it. They may win awards, but not the best ones. Of course, there are people who win everything, but we just glare at those people. How do you cope with the frustration and hopelessness of yet again not reaching the very top?

Patience. There's a reason that you didn't make it where you wanted to be, and maybe more than one reason. You just have to take the time to see what they may be, if it really means that much to you.

It might be a lack of passion. I think that if you have the passion, then you will have the determination to do what it takes to grasp what you want. Motivation is necessary as well. It takes more than skill and talent, which being a jack of all trades seems to mean to me. There must be something driving you to be the best, if that is what you are trying to be, so capture that passion and put it toward something.

Take your time in finding your niche. So you're not the very best at what you've tried. There may be that one thing that you are amazing at that you just haven't looked into.

Be content with what you do have. Forget about the latter part of the phrase; being a "jack of all trades" is a compliment. You can likely find your place in any situation, and you are skilled enough to get by no matter what.

Also remember that being the best may not be the most important thing in life, but that working toward it can be a wonderful learning experience, a chance to grow and see different things and meet new people. Don't be so straightforward and close-minded in your aims that you fail to see the beauty and wonder of life along the way. Finding a soulmate, for instance, is a lot more than what many people find in life. Things like teamwork and humanity, I think, are more important than being "Number 1."

However, this doesn't mean to waste your talents and abilities because you don't think you'll be able to make it to the top. Just think about how much being the master means to you. Think about how you'll look back on your accomplishments. Today, be where you are most comfortable; if you hate being below the peak, work harder. If it still doesn't feel good, look somewhere else for happiness.

I like to think I'm saying this not out of bitterness for not being Number 1; I have won a few things, but in the end, there are always things that matter more to me. I know there are athletes and scholars whose skills help shape them into the people they want to be, but they know what they want and what is right for them, so they are willing to work toward that. I hope you all can do the same for yourselves, and go where you should be.


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    • Chasing Riley profile image

      Chasing Riley 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      I really enjoyed this hub. You have very clearly defined the plight of many. I like the positive way you have at looking at the concept of not reaching the top. It's always in the way you look at things, isn't it!

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 8 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area


      For some reason, your hub is showing up as mine and in danger of being dropped. Do you understand what's going one? I don't. Sorry for any inconvenience.

    • cjcs profile image

      cjcs 9 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

      Well said. I've never liked the "Jack of all trades, master of none" phrase much, either. I think better is: "Generally useful to have around."


    • nightcats profile image

      June Campbell 9 years ago from North Vancouver

      Very encouraging and inspirational hub. Thanks for making it, and thanks for the lovely comments and fan mail you have sent me. Much appreciated. I have stumbled your hub.

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image

      fishskinfreak2008 9 years ago from Fremont CA

      Very useful information. Thumbs up

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Have to agree with you there, If you do not try will will never succeed. Don't be a stick in the mud. When you have learnt how to do something, choncord it then set your self another challenge. Keen on challenging you will learn so much more. Great encouraging hub

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 9 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great stuff !