It’s never been one of my strong points. I’m amazed at people who can choose just one thing, make that their prime concern, and follow one straight path all the way up to the top to succeed in that one thing. Examples are everywhere, but one that stood out to me recently is a guy named Jeremy Wade, who Animal Planet describes as an “extreme angler,” which means this guy is really good at catching really big fish. Particularly those dwelling in rivers.
In fact, he’s gotten so good at catching huge fish that he’s been able to make a living at it. He goes all over the world, meeting incredibly interesting people, and helping them discover and catch the thing under the water that ate their cousin last week.
Now, that’s a pretty specialized field of expertise. He started out with a zoology degree, taught school, traveled and wrote, and all the while had a curiosity to find these really big fish.
There are days when I would love to have that kind of focus. The problem is, there are too many great things I’d like to try. And some I’d even like to accomplish.
I’ve mentioned my creative side before. That creativity, coupled with a genuine interest in everything around me, or in it’s simplest form, curiosity, produce what my dad refers to as a “Jane” of all trades and master of none. Well, he’s got the Master of None part right, anyway.
(side note: this is part of the reason I love Wikipedia. They actually have a page about the saying Jack of all trades. From it, I just learned that I can also be referred to as a generalist — another useless tidbit of information that might come in handy if you ever qualify as a contestant on Jeopardy!)
Anyway, back to focus (see what I mean??) Is it a type A/type B personality thing? Or is it just ADD? I wonder. You hear about focus in regard to athletes. They train vigorously night and day. Championships lead to scholarships, which lead to careers, then sponsorships and if they’re lucky they can spend their retirement as network commentators. All because of focus in one specific area.
What causes someone like Michael Phelps (a specialist) to be supremely focused on swimming; training constantly, over many years, to reach a pinnacle matched by no other swimmer?
And someone like me to be so macro-focused as to want to try it all:
- sky dive
- web master
- horse owner
I mean, does it make me well-rounded or just plain crazy? And what about all the things I have yet to do:
- earn a college degree
- world traveling
- graphic design
- wood crafting
- screen writing
- advertising (Don Draper, you’re my hero)*
- stand-up comedy (Kathy GRIF-fin!)**
- star in my own show on the Travel Channel (it could happen)
- write for Family Guy (or at least sit in on a recording session)
- be a guest panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
- live in a little cottage in the woods, on the beach, with a pasture for the horses and a big red barn. And a studio. And a chicken coop. And a gourmet kitchen. (it could happen)
- finish my book
The problem with being a generalist is that all of these interests and pursuits take time. I’ve never been fast at anything, and each new thing I want to do, i.e., build a website or blog, takes time to learn.
Time, research, and a few …For Dummies books:
So, even though I don’t have a full-time job, and people wonder why I am always so busy, it’s because I’m teaching myself new things, learning more and more every day about the way the world is working nowadays, or trying to work, and what trends to follow, what to avoid, products and services that might be better or worse than others, while at the same time keeping up with the latest in publishing news – or trying to keep up, as the case may be, since the industry is changing more and more every time I see it.
I’m also trying to keep up with the everyday stuff, too – like everyone else out there. Taking care of my husband and two boys, housework (blah), laundry (double blah), and now that the kids are fully fledged teen males, more and more of my time is spent grocery shopping (eh), cooking (which I actually like), and cleaning up (which I actually don’t like).
And in my free time :) I sew.
And because I always have a movie playing in my head:
*you have to say this in the voice of Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off .
**you have to say this in the voice Kathy Griffin uses when she’s imitating the way Oprah Winfrey welcomes her guests.
So what kind of crazy stuff do you do?