12 June 2015

Jack of All Trades Master of None

Jack of All Trades
yet Master of None?

You are wrong.

You are a master of some,
be it in the workplace, at home or socially (virtual or reality)

The state of mastery depends on your interpretation too. If you think someone is very good at something, you may equate the person to a master.

However there is a Chinese saying: 天外有天,一山还比一山高, which means there will be no end to comparison since there is always some-one/place/thing better.

Nick Vujicic taught me to have the right mindset. Nick was born the same year as me, but without hands and feet. If you watch his videos in YouTube, you will be sure to notice his positive attitude and mindset. Sure he had his dull moments in life too, but look at him - with his beautiful family and outlook on life.

Don't judge me or anyone else for that matter. We are fellow humans, imperfect in our own ways, molded to perfection in some.

If you noticed, I have bold the word some. Let's be honest. We are not omnipotent. We can't be at every place every time. We can't be that perfect to excel in all things at all times. But we are sure to know when we have put in our best.

I am not a master, at least that is how I feel. But in the workplace, colleagues often hone me as the master to data accuracy. I'm not 100% accurate at all times, but I sure drive fear (according to these colleagues) when I have checked and tell the respective data owners that hey! this data is not correct. please get it corrected

I had a career change to human resources only about 5 years back. I had a 20.7% pay cut and that meant a lot, having a low basic pay to start with, gotten married a year ago, financing a HDB flat (i.e. government-subsidized apartment), and of course having bills to pay.

But I was eager to learn. I was certain that if I were to own a business some time in the future, I better know how to manage the most valuable asset - employees, the human capital.

And I wanted to join a larger company with multi-national presence, where there are best practices, global systems and processes in place (at least that was my ideal fantasy at that point in time).

And so I leaped.

I worked long hours in a junior human resources position.

It was also then I came across several articles that in order to excel as a human resources practitioner, you can't be trapped in a generalist mindset and be the jack of all trades, master of none.

You have to excel/specialize in something in order to pit your value against another fellow generalist colleague/candidate in a promotion/job opportunity, for example. Other than technical skills, this could mean soft skills or strategic skills too, e.g. when I doubled up as an Executive Assistant, I learn to be more business-minded by finding out what's happening within and outside the company, and to anticipate needs rather than having an administrative order-taking mindset

Moreover if you decided to specialize in your career,  most companies often pay higher salaries to specialists as compared to generalists in the same career level and industry. And if you do darn well as a specialist, you may even want to consider starting a consultancy in your later part of your career. (Just make sure your skills stay relevant and don't stagnate)

And so after years of reviewing for accuracy in client databases (earlier marketing role) to benefits claims (human resources role), I started to work towards specializing in data accuracy in HR information systems (HRIS) though I lack the IT-kind of technical proficiency.

I did well. In those 5 years, I moved from a local role to a regional role and now a global role (in different multinational companies). I learnt to correspond with many senior people in different countries (and I was told I gained the praises and respect of some!) And of course.. my base salary has more than doubled, increased at 139.1%.

To me, surely that is an achievement.

It did not came easy. When I told my human resources counterparts that I wanted to specialize in HR systems, they laughed at me. I had no IT background, and I often complaint to IT that my computer or mouse is not working right. And I wasn't even considered a full fledged HR practitioner in their eyes, since my HR experience was more administrative than pure human resources.

Oh well.

And I repeat:

You are a master of some,
be it in the workplace, at home or socially (virtual or reality)

I've met the masters of household management (i.e. househusbands and housewives). I would love to engage one in organizing our new place, we are still living with lots of carton boxes cluttering our living space.

I've met the masters of social media. Till today, I can't figure out hashtags and twitter. I've dabbled my share in social media - twitter, instagram, pinterest, etc. I think I will stick to FaceBook for now.

I've met the masters of party organization. Do you know we have an unofficial CPO in our office? i.e. Chief Party Officer. The self-nominated un-official hosts our Chinese New Year lunches, and organizes farewell parties, etc

And me?

I am a jack of all trades, and a master of some.

I'm not a master of design, but I can make myself look more appealing with Photoshop

I'm not a IT master, but I can build websites (though at elementary levels ha!), press Ctrl+Alt+Delete or slam my computer when the screen screams blue (oh no, don't listen to that)

I'm not a master of beading, but I sure make and sold some darn beautiful beadwork.

I'm not a master of baking, but I sure make some darn good pineapple pastries for CNY that my mum, mum-in-law and grandmums love.

I'm not a master of self-development, but here I am in this blog - typing and learning at the same time.

I noticed I have more followers in Google+ recently. If you are following me from/on this blog, do say hi/drop me a message/comment/convo (see, I still haven't figure out Google+ yet!) Would love to hear/read what you think too

Update on 12 November 2015:
Read this article on Jeff Goin's interview with Emily Wapnick, who coined the term 'multipotentialite'