Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker

Being an "information intensive person", I first sought to learn more about the term "The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker", because while I understood it to be a synonym for a "Jack of All Trades", I wanted to learn the origins of it, before using it as the basis of a "life-altering blog post". LOL.

My research uncovered that the original term comes from the the nursery rhyme "Rub-a-dub-dub", and while the rhyme itself has come to have many different meanings, the term "The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker" is still widely used as a way to describe a multifaceted person, skilled in many different trades.

I really started thinking about this term, especially as I've had several people suggest to me that my desire to be a "Serial Entrepreneur" should be tempered by focusing on one specific area, and later branching out into others. The logic behind these suggestions surely make sense, but my brain just doesn't function that way. I can manage to do multiple things at the same time, and actually do multiple things WELL (not just applying a paltry amount of time to an area, just to say I've done it).

When this suggestion came up for the third time within a month span, it caused me to do some inward reflection. After all, if two or more people are agreeing about something, the very least I can do is give the idea some contemplation in my own life, just to make sure everyone else isn't seeing something I may have missed.

In thinking about how I consider myself "A Jill of All Trades (and Master of Two...LOL)", I noticed that one of the themes that emerged from the three people that mentioned my "need to focus" was this idea that I get a new idea, and somehow chuck the old one, and move on to the new one without ever completing anything. That couldn't be further from the truth. Whenever a new idea or new opportunity is introduced into my life, I accord it a certain priority relative to the other activities I'm balancing. Some things take priority over others, especially for ideas that are income-generating (since that's my top priority these days). Even the things I LOVE to do sometimes get put on the backburner, because other priorities need to be attended to. I found it interesting that none of the people that suggested I "needed focus" were able to see the need for certain priorities that I have. Now, for two of those people, they really don't know me well enough to have a good grasp on how I work, they're merely making suggestions based on the glimpse of what they've seen in me, and probably their interaction with tons of other people whose characteristics I match. The person that actually knows me well, sees what they want, and despite the evidence to the contrary that I don't just drop projects or not finish them, they still have the perception that I do, and at this point, I don't think there's much that can be done about it.

So after spending more time really thinking my life plan through, I took into consideration everything that the aforementioned people said to me, and I realized that I really need to do a better job of "scripting a more cohesive narrative" for what I'm doing and how I plan to accomplish my goals. At least to the point where people don't look at me and simply view me as "flighty" and a person that can't stick to one thing.

Furthering this thought process, helped me realize something: I am me. And as "me", I manage to be a daughter to my mother, a sister to my siblings, an aunt to my nieces and nephew, a confidant to my friends, a tech support specialist to anyone who has a computer problem & my cell phone number, a complaint letter writer to anyone with a gripe against a company, and a host of other things in any given day. In fact, people deal with me based on the image of me that they see and my relation to them in their lives (e.g. daughter, tech support specialist, etc.). As such, on any given day, I can manage to be 10 different things to 10 different people, but at the same time: I'm still ME. I'm this ONE person functioning as tons of other things to tons of other people, based on the relationship that we have.

I don't quite get why I can't apply that same logic to the professional realm of my life. I mean, I understand that sometimes people have a problem dealing with folks they can't easily put into a "box", but I can't see why I should be limited by other's opinions of me or what I should be, based on their preconceived notions. Perhaps this will be the "death of me". But I just can't live by other's people's expectations and curtail my own life and professional growth because some can't deal with a "Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker" in an age where we all spend way too much time and money at Walmart, and believe the need for these professions are obsolete anyway! LOL.

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