You may have heard the idiom, “Jack of all trades, and master of none.”  A wise, old adage often used to demean a generalist. After all, success in today’s market does heavily depend on competitive advantage, right? In the ability to do one thing better than everyone else. But, what if that’s just a myopic version of success? The actual idiom does say, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”? What if it’s time we consider a different perspective on things?

So here are a couple of reasons why overall competence hands-down beats specialisation:

1.     Too Many Thought Leaders

Just like a diamond emerges after immense pressure on regular coal, the emergence of a thought leader comes from success after significant failure. It’s this trial and error that makes them knowledgeable enough to hold their own against all odds. Today, there is a business in thought leadership. With the emergence of apps like Instagram, everyone wants to be a thought leader. This muddies the market and reduces the credibility of the lot. If you want to be the next Gary Vee or Einstein, focus on consistent all-around growth rather than a particular specialisation. Over time, you’ll emerge as a titan of your own.

2.     Being a Generalist Isn’t Half That Bad

Ever notice a situation like Mr XYZ’s? As an employee, XYZ was an overachiever at every function of his job. However, now as an entrepreneur, things aren’t quite the same. The role’s functions suddenly involved way too many things. He’s now scattered, burned out and too hard on his staff. When you’re a generalist, you have functional knowledge in many areas. This opens your eyes to fresher growth perspectives and enables you to be on top of any curve balls that may come your way.

3.    Collaborative Ecosystems – The Way of the Future

According to the S.B.A., only 25 Per cent of new businesses go on to make it for 15 years or more. Today’s entrepreneurs have truly understood the size of the challenge facing them. They understand that a ‘together we thrive’ or collaborative model is the success format of the future. Take social media sites like Facebook and Linkedin. They increase revenue by integrating with many third-party businesses. Consider the rise of firms who thrive by collaborating on everything from branding and marketing to HR and even various operations. To be adept at thriving in the market of today and tomorrow, it serves better to be competent at various functions instead of thriving at just the one.

4.    You’ll Feel a Lot More Holistic as a Person

Every single person has multiple facets to their personality. To rise to your highest potential, it’s important to equally feed and grow each element of your person. Consider Einstein, one of the brightest minds to have ever graced this world. You may know him as Mr. Science but what about as an expert violinist? Do you know that he was also a master sailor? Consider Abraham Lincoln, a renowned US leader and president. You may know him as a great leader but what about as an inventor with his own patent? Do you know that he was also a lawyer and a professional wrestler? The key to reaching your position at the top doesn’t lie in accentuating one part of your person but in learning from all your favourite fields and growing your entire being.

As an entrepreneur, you have one goal; to solve a problem. Ideally, you leave the world in a better place than where you found it. To do that, the yesteryears thought the solution was excelling at just one thing. Today, we know better. Consider the musician FKJ, to truly be the best, you have to be competent at it all. Leverage off and learn from thought leaders. Gain their competence and push your boundaries. Be as holistic as it gets. And who knows, if you do it all well enough, you might actually end up being the best thought leader of them all!

The article was originally published here on