The Problem: Having trouble finding your niche or specialty? Know you want to start your own online business or do freelance work, but you do not know what you should do? Does the question, what am I good at? keep you up at night? Are you good at a lot of different things, but not sure which one you should pick? After all, most of the expert bloggers tell you that you must pick a specialty and become an authority in your niche, right? Wouldn’t it be great to say: Hello, my name is Mike, and I am a ______.
The diagnosis: You suffer from being a JOAT, or a Jack of All Trades.
My story: I am an introvert. I used to call myself a Jack of All Trades and think it was a good thing. I am a singer/songwriter, writer, traveler, videographer, photographer, graphic designer, tech specialist, photoshop guru, web designer…what?? Sound familiar? I am not all of these things, but I am interested in all of these things and many more. Most people have a variety of interests and things that make them smile. The difference between an expert and a JOAT is the expert never stops working on their craft and a jack of all trade does not put in the effort necessary to learn something inside and out. They lose focus and move on to the next interesting topic. I have spent the last 10 years watching Lynda.com classes and every tutorial under the sun and am a much better and smarter person for it. Despite having a head full of wonderful knowledge, I struggle to understand what I am good at. I use Photoshop everyday at work and guess what, I am really good at it. It is no secret, you must practice the same thing over and over or you will never be master something. Sorry, but it is true. I know I love technology, creativity and helping others, so the more I keep making things, the more I learn what I am really good at and what I really enjoy. It’s not nearly as hard as you might think to find your ‘passion’.
My discovery (and opinion): Having multiple interests and a curious mind is a wonderful thing, but I have discovered that it is more of a self-inflicted tactic to avoid working really hard at perfecting one thing. Becoming a master is tedious, often-boring and really hard work. Unfortunately, that is what it takes to be really great at something. Watch a great musician or athlete or blogger or whoever that really inspires you. They almost always make their skill look effortless and almost easy. Ask anyone of them and they will all say they worked their tails off to get there. There are no shortcuts.
The Cure: How Do I Pick Something To Master?
- Stop overthinking. Whatever you pick is going to change, so stop worrying. Your goal is to keep plugging away at making things or helping others until you believe in what you are doing is good, is filling a need and it makes you happy just thinking about it. This will not come overnight, but it will come a lot faster if you just start. Forward progress.
- Done is Better Than Perfect. Just make something and share it with the world. I recently launched my first Skillshare class. It was not perfect and I could have done so much better, but it felt really good to finish it and share it. I worked really hard at it and learned a ton. hmmm….maybe I am good at something.
- Start a website/blog/podcast. I feel like an idiot for waiting so long to get back into blogging, but better late than never. I started VideoUnplugged.com to force myself to start sharing my knowledge and my desire to help other entrepreneurs figure things out. You will be amazed at how your mind starts filtering out the noise in your head and really starts providing clarity of what your real strengths and interests are. Stop procrastinating.
- Read this article, it hit home for me: Obvious To You, Amazing To Others.
- Be yourself. Being an introvert makes this tough, I know. But, just keep telling yourself, so what. Your feelings will get hurt from time to time, but the people who will criticize you are likely jealous that you are doing something and they are not. Be proud that you are doing something and get inspiration from others, but do not feel the need to be like them.
- Helpful Tools: Here is a list of tools that have really helped me flush out ideas and keep me focused. Start paying attention to what you like and what you keep going back to and lo and behold, you just might start finding your niche. Keep it simple. The more tools and software you use to keep track of the things, the more overwhelmed you will be. Trello has been a great discovery for me.
- Keep Moving Forward. The secret sauce to curing your Jack of All Trades symptom is to stop hiding behind tutorials and following others and to start your own journey. Who cares if you are not 100% clear on what it is and who cares if you fail at first? Just keep moving forward and you will be amazed at the clarity that will happen very quickly. Hitting Publish whether it be on Twitter or Wordpress, is exhilarating and it also is a great motivator to keep you looking for more of what you want to share and be known for.
Hello, my name is Mike Murphy and I help brands tell their story.