• Jim Toth

T-Shaped Men and Women

T-Shaped Men and Women: It is the model one should follow in order to be a well-rounded and successful individual. People often associate well-roundness with being a jack-of-all-trades. A T-Shaped man or woman differs in that the individual is the jack-of-all-trades, master of ONE.

  • Breadth and Competence - Horizontal Bar: Representation of the countless fields that a person can become familiar with. There are an infinite number of these fields. Some of which include gaining more knowledge in different skills, tricks, fitness, arts, music, language, and more. Individuals who acquire a wide breadth of information are competent in many facets of life. Having a breadth of knowledge may serve as a useful foundation for striking conversations and self-sustainability. It is important to note that being proficient in numerous fields is not nearly as powerful as being the subject-matter expert in one skill or field.

  • Depth and Mastery - Vertical Bar: Representation of the one skill or field that a person dedicates his or her life to becoming the best at. While having a breadth of knowledge is useful in its own regard, mastery is what distinguishes professionals from the rest. It is also what pays the big bucks. Customers will pay a premium for services performed by experts who are at the top of their industry.

Broadening Breadth (Horizontal Bar):

  • Expose yourself to as many experiences and stories as possible. Personal development is an ongoing process that extends far beyond your years spent in school. Utilize your time more efficiently in order to progress yourself and your career. When driving to work, instead of listening to the radio, listen to a podcast. Instead of playing phone games during down time at home, read a thought provoking book. Better yet, go out and do something that you've always took interest in or wanted to try. It's amazing how seemingly insignificant stories or experiences could be the missing puzzle piece you need to make a connection with the right person to propel your life. Breadth invokes opportunity.

Honing Mastery (Vertical Bar):

  1. Watch and Learn: At this stage, you know nothing. Observe the works of your mentors and teachers. Study how and why they do the things they do. Notice the small details. Ask questions. Take notes, both mental and physical. How do your leaders motivate employees? What is the culture of the company? What is the power dynamic of your team? These are some questions that you need to ask yourself. This phase may vary in length depending on the complexity of the desired skill or field that you are attempting to master. Your goal is not to stand out or draw attention, it is simply to be a sponge and absorb everything around you.

  2. The Law of 10,000 Hours: Practice, practice, practice. It is often times the longest step to achieving mastery. Experts in a wide variety of fields believe this is about how long it takes to be considered a master in a particular skill. Whether it's exactly 10,000 hours or not, the point is that it takes time...a long time. Quality and deliberate practice can speed up the necessary duration to achieving master status, but at the end of the day there are no shortcuts. Nothing can substitute for experience. Every time you change your career path to a new sector, you reset the clock in terms of time needed to become the subject-matter expert. If you must switch career paths, try to find a skill within the same scope to avoid starting over.

  3. Growth: Once you achieve master status, leave your unique mark on the industry. Whether it's through experimentation, personal methods, or something else entirely, find a way to make yourself stand out. After learning all rules, it's time to break them. Innovation is the result of trial and error in an attempt to improve an existing or non-existing system. It's up to you to exploit it.


  • There are an infinite number of ways to become successful. Developing into a T-Shaped man or woman is the blueprint of achieving great things in every field. The more depth you can reach, the greater number of opportunities you will be exposed to.

Written by: Jim Toth

Reference: The idea of becoming a T-Shaped man or woman belongs to David Guest. The articles that help publicize the idea are listed below. They may serve as a great reference if you would like to learn more about this subject.

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