Friday, March 8, 2013

Jack of All Trades ... Master of One?

It's fitting that the theme of the posts this week have surrounded work in some way. Ken's new job, Patrick's wife's project, Josh's expert dress-to-impress advice, and Chris' BEARD working as a movie star. As it turns out, I've been wanting to write about this topic for a long time.

I have a job. It provides for my family. It's something I'm glad I have and something I feel blessed to have gotten. Landing the job I have now was definitely something God had a hand in, and he continues to help me each day. I'm thankful.

I'm good at my job. Truth is, since I hit my teens I've been OK to good at everything I've ever tried in my life. Everything I can think of anyway.

But I'm not great at my job. I'm not an expert in the strict sense of the word. Truth is, I'm not great at anything. I haven't attained mastery in any facet of my life.

It's the old saying: "Jack of all trades, master of none." Which I think was coined by Moses. (I'm only OK at history.) So, being fine has gotten me through my life pretty well. It worked for a really long time. Sometimes I'd get an A, and sometimes I'd get a C+. Sometimes I'd hit 15 three-pointers in a row and then I'd miss a lay up. Sometimes a girl would say yes. I also got frequent nos. What I hadn't thought about is that, at some point, being simply OK meant that there would always be someone better than you at everything. Someone who decided to take the time to master something.

This is a problem for me. Being good or OK isn't great. I want to be amazing. And, I know the blame falls on me. It's my life, after all. I made choices to get me here. I look around and I am surrounded by greatness. By genius. By mastery. I see spiritual greatness, creative genius, musical proficiency, parenting greatness, and acting, improvising, writing mastery. I am so proud to know all the wonderfully talented people I know who are or who are close to being the very best at what they do. They are friends, they are relatives, they are acquaintances, and they are even married to me. I'm happy for the success of others. I'm happy that so many people I know get to do what they love, what they're great at, and still provide for their families doing it.

What to do? I've decided it matters so I can't just accept being OK. I guess I need to try harder at being an expert at something.

I think the closest thing I have is my acting. It's the thing in my life that I enjoy doing more than anything else. It's the thing I get the most validation doing. Contrary to what you may have heard or believe, good acting is hard. Film, theater, improv, all of it. It's difficult to become an expert at it. But that's doable. It's even more hard to earn a living at it. This is why I think I've plateaued at good and not great. I think if I really believed in my heart that, at 42 years old, I could make a run at professional acting, then I could see myself spending the remaining hours of the 10,000 needed to become an expert. But then there's that voice that says, "Acting is great but you have a good job and a family to support." My brain cannot justify working at it more since there can be little return on the investment. See? I sure am good at talking myself out of that one. I have to keep telling myself that retirement and college funds will thank me.

The other thing is writing. That could be something. I like to do it most of the time. I could even make the effort needed to get good at it. I don't thoroughly enjoy it as much as performing. It's sort of how I already make my living. The tough part about this one is that I really love writing poems, sketches, and scripts. I don't always like marketing writing. This creates a conundrum. I could spend the time needed to get great at marketing writing but could I learn to love it and be fulfilled by it? And, after spending most of my day writing about products, do I want to come home and squeeze a few more writing hours out of myself to write a novella? The evidence against me is that I prefer watching TV to unwind rather than writing to unwind. I'll forgo TV to study for an acting audition but not for writing. Huh.

For the record, I have implemented plans to both of the above more. Maybe I will become great at them if I stick with it. It's possible.

But hold on ... I just thought of this. Maybe the answer is to become great at the things that will make me a better human. Practicing to master the non-career related things. I should spend more time becoming an expert at marriage, fatherhood, friendship, service, listening, humility, positivity, encouraging, supporting, and caring.

I bet I could be great at a couple of those. With a little expert help. Who's in?

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