The case against specialisation and the rise of Jack of all trades.

leonardo da vinci

This scary movement started on a big scale in the 19th century when the whole villages flocked to the cities in search of a new, better life. Unskilled, often unliterate, they were easy to pray for the big factory owners who needed a cheap workforce.
Instead of teaching a person how to make a shoe, from the beginning to the finish, it was faster to teach only one skill, like drilling a hole in the sole for example.

Assembly dozen of similar human robots along the production line, each responsible for only a straightforward task, and your shoe production business has a potential of exponential growth.
The job is straightforward; it easy to become a master, even kids can do it, and often did! (sic!)

In case of illness or injury, there is no problem with replacing the broken link. The production never stops, and from the perspective of the owner, it was a golden business.

But when you are on the receiving end of this system, your life if pure misery. Work is hard and very dull, extremely repetitive. The targets are high, and you can be replaced anytime. It is hard to love that job.

We, humans, need creativity and constant new challenges; otherwise, we stop growing, and our brains die, once cell at a time.

Knowing that history, my heart skips a beat every time I see ”business guru” calling for high specialisation. To earn a good buck, you need to master one thing, he says, own it, focus on what you are doing the best and delegate other jobs.

I ask, ”Dude, did you hear about Leonardo da Vinci?”

According to Wikipedia, Leonardo’s ”areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, palaeontology, and cartography.”
His strength was the depth of his interests, not specialisation; he was an ultimate Jack of all trades.

Therefore, if you ever find yourself learning to play the guitar, trying to speak Spanish, getting swimming lessons and mastering cooking skills at the same time, worry no more, you are in an excellent company!

Life is too short for doing one thing; we have robots for this. Explore, dive into the unknown, learn, experience the full range.

Or, like me, open your own business, and you will never be bored again. You might start the day teaching people how to squat; then you will find yourself repairing a broken toilet, then you will spend 5h on building the new website to finish the day with 2h of personal training and 3h of graffiti painting.

True story! 🙂