Specialization in a domain or Generalizing your skillset?

A jack of all trades is a master of none.

Most of us have heard of this phrase. So which is actually better- getting real good in some
certain skill or having a knowledge of a wide array of fields?


As per Wikipedia, this phrase was first recorded as complement(phrased differently) to William Shakespeare.

However today it is used more as an insult for someone who is not focused and only has superficial knowledge
on lots of things but does not specialize (is good at none).


So what is the better approach then?

Be really knowledgeable at a lot of things then right? Diversify your skill-set.

But the choices are numerous that often overwhelm and we are often paralyzed by the sheer number of
things there are to learn.

Here is a project I am working on the side (incomplete of course) about just the number of fields a computer
science or an IT student can choose to learn about. There is  a lot! No one person knows about it all, much less care
to learn about all of them.

On the counter side today is an age of specialization. Nobody would consult a doctor who doesn’t specialize
in a field. Knowing just the bits and pieces  about a lot  of things, the beginners confidence you have
thinking it is so easy and you know/can do all; before falling into pit of despair is real.

Without expertise, how do you deal with certain problems? It undermines balance and well-being.


For you and I, which is the path forward then?

In 21st century a “more complete phrase” of above saying has emerged:

“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

So knowing a lot of things is better than solely focusing on one and only.

But even better would be a balance. A person specializing in a few set of niches but has knowledge of
other things too. This is the golden line in my opinion and it is what I strive to do.
Try to learn lots of various fields but remain focused on core goals and specialize in one particular field.

What are your thoughts? Leave them below in the comment section

Leave a Comment