The Myth of Being a Jack of All Trades

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How Delegation Can Help You Step Into Who You Are

“I feel like a Jack or Jill of all trades and master of none. I have no idea what I’m particularly good at and it’s killing me.”

I get this email or DM on Instagram from prospective clients about once a week. It’s not surprising as we live in what I call the Age of the Dilettante. We’re generalists, pretty good at many things but excellent in very few. Or so we think. 

I would argue that we overestimate our strengths in certain areas at the expense of noticing our true talents. We call our average abilities talents when they are simply competencies. Satisfaction with these smaller wins keeps us from focusing on the things we do that exemplify true genius. 

The Competence Trap

In The Big Leap, author Gay Hendricks describes this as the Competence Trap. It’s the place where successful people often get stuck. They are unable to rise to the next level of their career because they never push past doing things others can do equally well. Don’t get me wrong, you land a career because of your competence. A base level of skill matters. But you’ll never move up the ladder or experience greater work satisfaction if you continue to stay in this zone. 

Benefits of Delegation

This is why I recommend making a habit out of aggressive delegation when you are struggling to identify your unique talents. When you delegate, you release tasks or projects to others who could also succeed at their execution. Doing so often allows you to see the spaces of your unique contribution. In essence, you are left holding those items that only you can do. These remaining tasks might be clues to your talents. (Though they might also simply be indicators of gaps in your support system. Time is the revealer of all things.) Over time you begin to notice a common thread in how you add value to any situation, organization or group in a way that others cannot. That through-line is a talent.

Another benefit of delegation is the obvious increase in bandwidth. If you hold onto tasks and roles others can do, you’re limiting your energy and time to pour into using the unique talents you have. When your energy is depleted or you have to rush from task to task, you may not be giving yourself the opportunity to see the fullness of your gifting because its implementation is stunted by other efforts. As you create space in your time and life rhythms through delegation, you allow yourself to get into a flow space where you’re able to deliver at a higher level and see greater return on your investment of output. 

How does this strike you? Is your time currently occupied by a series of actions or activities you do reasonably well or exceedingly well? How often do you delegate what you know another could do? 

Common Delegation Fears

If you’re anything like most of the Jacks and Jills who email me, you do not delegate often. I find most people do not delegate due to one of the following fears:

  • Fear of being obsolete - they worry that if they are not busy and hand off tasks to others, they will be left empty-handed delegating themselves out of a role.

  • Fear of being bossy - they feel anxious that others might perceive their persistent delegation as a shoving off of responsibility.

  • Fear of being out of control - they micromanage details either to ensure things are “done properly” or for the ego hit of “I’m in charge and others depend on me.” 

How to Overcome Your Fear of Delegation

However, all of the above excuses are limiting beliefs that are holding you back from stepping into your full talent genius zone. I would encourage you to reframe your fears as the following opportunities:

  • Opportunity for discovery - when you let go of what you do or how others previously perceived your value, you’re able to explore new aspects of your identity that may have been overlooked.

  • Opportunity for empowerment - when delegation is done properly with practical equipping and respectful communication, you can empower someone else to grow and stretch.

  • Opportunity for freedom - when we control details or situations, we are actually being controlled by them because of the perpetual effort we need to maintain to sustain their being. 

What can you delegate today to begin to get more clarity on your talent space? There is no time like the present. Think about it and then commit. Shoot me an email at chanel@lifeplan.nyc with “Today I’m going to delegate…” for greater accountability. I would love to cheer you on as you take this next step toward unlocking your talents.