The curse of the “jack of all trades” generalist who is “good at everything, but not great at one particular thing” is this fallacy that you can be all things to all people, all of the time. Anyone who has been around the block awhile recognizes the faulty logic involved in that thinking and yet, I meet kids at a non-liberal arts college on a fairly regular basis who think they’re going to triple-major in Biology, Theater and Business.*
One of the things you get from doing something over a period of time is a sense of purpose. I like being useful, probably more than anything. I get a great deal of satisfaction from being good at what I do and from the recognition of others that i have unique insights that improve the bottom line or just plain make meetings better. Often times, it’s just my particular brand of hilarity mixed with a heavy dose of perspective that was needed at that time.
The challenge of the generalist — nay, of anyone really — is finding out where you fit. Woven into this is knowing what you’re really good at. I complain mightily about the conundrum of being able to broadcast loudly other people’s attributes and being a brand steward of the first order; but being less than good at boosting my own works. The thing is, I’m not shy or especially modest. I really want people to know. The disconnect is getting them to know without me telling them.
And that’s when we end up where we are now. I’ve come to recognize how much I was doing and stepping away from the day-to-day work on the web has strangely illuminated how much I enjoyed my old work, ways I could improve certain aspects of things given the opportunity and has made me (slightly) more vocal about cool things I’ve done over the years on and off the web.
Sometimes, you need to step away from what you love to realize what about it made you really love it in the first place. I’ve done it and now I know better than I ever did before.