If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both – Native American Saying

Being good at everything seems like a positive claim, especially if you are trying to be a stellar employee or building your own business. Learning about social media marketing, content marketing, SEO, Google Adwords and becoming a technology pro seems like it can save you time and money. Especially if you are doing it all yourself.

My question is, should you be good at everything? Although this seems like a positive claim, it can actually hurt you. In my opinion being good at everything is just as bad as multi-tasking. (You can read my thoughts on multi-tasking here).

When I started college the first day of class was overwhelming. Going to 5 different classes and having the professor walk-through the syllabus for the entire semester was quite intimidating. In order to get everything done, I spent time multi-tasking between courses, working on completing a little bit of everything. As a result nothing got my full attention or my best effort.

After all, I figured (incorrectly) that doing everything mediocre was better than doing one thing well. It was about mid-semester when one of my professors finally pulled me aside to discuss my less than stellar work. I’ll never forget what he told me:

That’s when I realized being good at everything is like taking a spoonful of peanut butter and spreading it across a loaf of bread. Everyone gets a taste but no one is satisfied. Instead of spreading yourself thin, find one area you enjoy and work on becoming an expert in it. When people come to you for advice, you’ll know all the secret tips and tricks instead of the dictionary entry anyone can look up.

Case Study: When I was an entry level employee working in a small business there were opportunities to wear several hats. Including general customer service, call center management, web analytics, account management, onboarding, content management, technical training, production support and more. Unsure of where to concentrate I started working on everything at once which led me to becoming a terrible employee. After a warning I slowed down and spent time focusing on one thing at at time, particularly content management and content management training. Instead of being good at everything I’ve learned to master one item and delegate other responsibilities to those who are pros in those areas. After all, full satisfaction is much better than a taste.

What is one thing you’ll focus on doing well?

Do what you do well

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