When wise Tyrion Lannister said, “That’s what I do: I drink, and I know things” in the Game of Thrones “Home” episode, I laughed out loud. I felt I could relate to the character at that moment. Although not because I drank. I do partake in something more than orange juice once in a while, but it was the “I know things” part that connected with me.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying that I’m the wisest person in the world or even the room. I am the first to admit that I am not an expert. I recently stated that very thing about art, birds, and websites to the mild shock of good friends. I guess you could call me a “Jack of all trades.”
The term “Jack of all trades”(Johannes Fac Totum) has been in use since the early 17th century and refers to the common man, but implies they are competent at several different skills.
Later, in the 18th century, “master of none” began to be added to it to give the saying a negative connotation. According to Wiktionary, the saying was expanded in the 21st century to “Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one.”
The character Tyrion is wise because he knows things. He wasn’t necessarily an expert in finance or a master of military maneuvers. He knew lots of information from various fields, which kept him a step ahead of the others—for the most part.
While some believe that people should study a field extensively to become experts, others believe a generalist can accomplish more.
A recent study by Frank Nagle and Florenta Teodoridis, published in the Strategic Management Journal, showed that “Jacks of all trades” can be great at what they do. The study found that hyper-focused or specialized individuals would miss solutions to problems if they were outside of their realm, while diversified researchers could draw on their knowledge from outside interests.
Do I like being like those diversified researchers? Of course. In fact, my wide scope of “useless” knowledge helps me navigate the world I live in. Look at my bio. I’m a children’s book author, illustrator, zoologist, small business owner, Bluebird Ambassador, wife, mother, squirrel enlister, data manager, conservationist, and cotton candy lover.
Having knowledge in many areas is a positive aspect and a benefit for success. Focus is great for learning and developing skills, but hyper-focus prevents us from seeing everything around us.
I don’t believe anyone can be an expert since there are so many things the human race doesn’t know or hasn’t discovered yet, and we should never stop learning. I certainly don’t believe I will ever be an expert in anything, but I can be like Tyrion and be knowledgeable—and maybe have a drink.