Jacob Fentress

Mastering Everything

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the new software, frameworks, and techniques that seem to hit the web industry everyday. And, I’ve been thinking about how I feel guilty that I haven’t learned all these new tools, yet. There is a constant pressure – internal, sure, but also externally – to be well versed in all this stuff. While forming my thoughts on the topic, Simon Collison got to the heart of the matter at CreativeMornings/NewYork:

To attempt mastery of everything inevitably leads to mediocrity.

There is this pull that I feel – and I’ve heard a similar sentiment from others – to learn the new technique, to read another blog post, to refactor my new project framework, to do anything other than actually tackling the work at hand. Yeah, that risks doing things in a way that may not be the very best way to do them as of this morning, but is that such a bad thing?

Does the perceived need to be on top of these things actually keep us from producing our best work?

Yeah, it’s important to refactor code. Yeah, you need to keep up with the things that are happening in this industry. Yeah, you need to constantly learn new skills to remain relevant and valuable. But it can’t be done at the expense of moving forward.

The concept of the t-shaped person comes to mind with this. I believe it is important to have a breadth of knowledge – and I can say that especially as the founder of a small web studio. Without a breadth of knowledge I would find it quite difficult to contribute meaningfully to strategic discussions, to make decisions, or to complete projects.

I just cannot continue trying to be a master of everything new that comes out, and I have to let go of the guilt associated with that.