While it’s fine to do some things yourself, sometimes you’re better off finding an expert. Black Press File Photo

MIKE’S MUSINGS: Knowing when to call in a pinch hitter

Being a ‘jack of all trades’ is nice, but sometimes you just need someone better at a thing than you

I’ve always been a pretty multi-talented fella.

I’m relatively adept athletically – although I don’t engage in it nearly as much as I used to – and I’m pretty decent at making art, whether it’s painting, drawing, sculpting or making music. I also have a pretty sharp mind in terms of being able to recall the things that go into it, but I’m also relatively good with my hands, tools and other ways of physically altering the world. I’m just as at home reading and researching from academic journals as I am pushing wood through a tablesaw.

I don’t say these things boastfully. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

There’s an old idiom that refers to someone as “a Jack of all trades, master of none.”

That’s me in a metaphoric nutshell. I’m not excellent – I literally do not excel – at any of these skills or attributes.

But because I’m pretty good at most things – once I give them an honest try, anyway – I sometimes find it difficult to decide to find the master of one when I really should.

There are times when a DIY solution isn’t the right one, and I’m not great at knowing when those times are. Sometimes it’s hard to know when “probably above average” isn’t an acceptable solution to a problem.

But I’m getting better.

I know this because I still don’t have enough power in my garage to properly run my woodworking tools. Yes, I can run any one individual thing, but I can’t run a heater while I run my tablesaw without tripping the breaker. Or my dust collector either, for that matter, and that’s only really worth having if you can run it at the same time as the tool it’s connected to.

Sure, I could probably wire up another circuit by following along with a YouTube instructional video. I mean, the breaker box is in the middle of the wall that I’d be adding the plug on, so it would probably be super easy. And I likely would have done just that even six or seven years ago if I was in the same position.

But you know what? Now I’d rather get an actual electrician to do it.

Because I’m slowly learning that sometimes it’s better to use actual expertise than to do something “good enough” yourself.

Like, for example, manipulating electricity that could either kill you instantly while you’re working on your solution or burn your house down with your family in it after the fact if you screw it up.

But, then again, sometimes it’s enough to just ask for help from someone who is better at a something than you are, too. It doesn’t always need to be a “master” of the thing.

Like when a friend of mine wanted to build a shed last month, for example. He’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy, too, but he knew I do woodworking so was handy with tools and another friend of ours had actually built more than one shed in the past. So, with exactly zero “masters” among us, we made it happen. And it’s a super nice shed.

I guess the point of today’s rambling is this: don’t be afraid to try new things, but make use of others’ expertise when necessary, whether that’s friends who know more than you or experts you have to pay.

Actually, pay your friends, too. Even if it’s in beer or the use of your time doing something you’re better at than them.

Tradesies make an excellent currency, after all.


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