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The Goat and the Ox: Jack of All Trades Meets A Perfectionist

The sun glistened on the young goat’s thick, soft, tawny fur. She stood at the edge of a long meadow where the salmon berry bushes and blackberry vines where thickest, browsing on the succulent leaves. Vibrantly colored flowers dotted the lush grass and reached for the nurturing light. Light glistened off of dew-damp Alder tree leaves.

The meadow was home to a goat family along with other families of horses, oxen, pigs, rats and rabbits. Unlike the other groups of animals who stuck pretty much to a routine and ranged within a certain area, the goats went out each day to investigate their surroundings and learn what they could. Each night, they returned to their shelter and conferred with each other about what they had learned. As a result of their incredible curiosity and willingness to explore, each goat had dabbled in a wide variety of experiences, and because of that wisdom, she was not afraid of change, of changing her approach towards achieving a goal, or even shifting her goals completely.

The other animals tolerated their inquisitiveness. Some members were delighted to show the goats what life was like for them and demonstrated what they thought was the best way to forage. Others were annoyed with the goats always sticking their nose in their business, asking questions or making suggestions, and ran them off.

One day, one of the young nannies spied an Ox making a bed for his young nephew in the meadow. She watched from the shadows as he very carefully pawed the ground to make a smooth, soft place, upon which he carefully placed mouthfuls of the tall grass which he plucked from the verdant field. The meticulous order in which he placed the grass stalks fascinated her. He carefully lay a row down the middle, then lapped rows on the side, then added an additional layer to the sides. After he was finished, the young ox lay down and sighed in contentment, and started chewing his cud.

The young nanny stepped into the meadow and went up to the young ox.

“What a nice bed you have,” she said. “How does it feel?”

The ox sighed and dipped his head. “Wonderful.” He looked at his uncle eating grass a little ways away. “He is the best bed builder ever!”

The nanny wandered off and after a while, the young ox got up to eat. Seizing an opportunity, the young goat lay down in the bed. She had never felt a bed that was so soft and comfortable. Immediately, she wanted a bed like this.

She leapt up and trotted over to the big ox. She waited for him to notice her, then said, “You made such a wonderful bed for your nephew. Do you think you could make one for me?” She looked sweetly at the ox, who stared at her without expression. Finally he rumbled, “Oh, all right. Where do you want it?”

Hastily the goat looked around the field. “Right there.” She pointed to some high ground in the meadow.

“OK.” And the large beast moved slowly towards the indicated location. He nosed around, seeking the softest ground, then started pawing and carefully placed the grass that he had plucked. When he was done, he stepped back, admiring his work. “There you are, young nanny. I hope you like it.”

“Oh thank you, thank you!” The young goat said enthusiastically. She lay down in the bed.“It’s like laying on a pile of feathers!” She exclaimed. She lay there and contentedly chewed her cud. She came back to this new bed every day after eating and enjoyed looking out over the rest of the meadow and watching all the other animals. Whenever she passed the Ox, she thanked him again and again. He nodded in acknowledgement.

One day, the wind changed and now her bed was not so comfortable. In fact it was cold, because on her high point, she was more exposed to the wind. She spotted a swale where the grass tops did not move and sought out the Ox.

She said, “Can you make me a bed over there where the wind doesn’t blow?”

He looked at her. She had been so appreciative of his other bed, that he felt disposed to do this for her. So he went the the spot, found the ideal location with the softest soil, and made her bed. She thanked him profusely and lay down, sighing in relief to be in a warm place. The sun warmed her. She was content.

That is, until the sun moved behind the trees, and now she was cold. She approached the Ox again. He was building a bed for his sister.

“You did such a wonderful job of making a bed for me, but now I need to move it. The sun no longer warms that spot and it’s cold.”

The ox gave her a blank stare. She continued, “I don’t have a fur coat like you.” When she saw that he was ignoring her, she went to a place in the center of the meadow and sniffed the ground until she found soft soil and started pawing at it trying to match the old ox’s bed making process. But she was a much lighter animal and her hooves barely scratched the soil. Disgruntled, she returned to the ox, who had finished making the bed for his sister and had been watching her.

“You don’t have my talent, do you,” he laughed. “Here, I’ll fix it for you.” And the ox made her another bed. She had more of an appreciation of the process, after trying it herself, and thanked him profusely. “You have such a talent for doing this. You’re the best bed builder in the whole meadow.”

The goat was happy. She embellished her new bed with flowers and other treasures she uncovered on her daily adventures. Hidden amid the tall grass, she was sheltered from the wind and had snacks within easy reach. It was ideal, that is, until she heard the howl of wolves in the verges of the forest.

Hastily she beat a retreat to the ox family. Hiding among the large beasts, she hoped she and the rest of her goat family would be safe. Once again, she pleaded with the ox to build a bed. “I need a bed where I can be safe.”

Being a reasonable and understanding ox, he saw her plight. After all she was about a 20th of his size. So he started building. Pretty soon, more goats joined the young nanny. “Can you make the bed bigger to accommodate all of us?” She asked sweetly.

He paused in his work to survey the group of goats, who stood facing him, looking very humble and vulnerable. He sized up the task, then shrugged and started pawing at a bigger patch of ground.

In her enthusiasm, the young nanny joined him, gathering grasses and flowers. She found some reeds by the creek and brought them back for the bed. The ox nosed the reeds out of the bed, replacing them with fine grass stalks. “Those won’t work,” he said.

“Why not? There’s lots of them by the creek.” All the goats had mouthfuls of the reeds.

“I’ve never used reeds. I’ve always used grass. Reeds won’t work.” He stopped working. He swished his tail and glowered at the goat.

“Have you tried reeds before?”

“If you think you know so much about bed building, then you make your bed and don’t ask me to make you another bed again.” He turned and huffed off, head swaying back and forth. He watched from the distance as the goats built a soft bed from reeds. They lay down together, marveling at the springiness of the new type of bedding. The young goat saw the ox’s nephew nearby and invited him to try out the bed.

He did and exclaimed,”Wow! Reeds do make a nice bed. And it doesn’t take as long. I’ll tell my Uncle Ox.”

For the next week, the ox turned his back on the young nanny when their paths crossed. She tried to thank him for his efforts but he would walk away as soon as she approached. He told his family to stay away from the goat family. They didn’t always follow his orders, though.

Finally, the young nanny cornered the ox and offered him some of his favorite flowers which she had spent hours searching for. “Can we still be friends?” She asked.

The aroma of the flowers kept him from walking off. He sniffed them, then gingerly gathered them into his mouth and slowly chewed. He turned to the goat and said, “I don’t understand you creatures. You can never seem to make up your mind. You had me make several beds and you never were satisfied, always wanting to change it somehow. And the last bed, well,” he shook his massive head and snorted, “well, that totally disrespected me and my bed building practices.” He looked across his herd. “Now I have others asking for reeds.” He grunted in disgust and turned away.

Not to be put off, the goat moved closer, stretched up and started scratching his rump with her horns. He became very still, breathing slowly and arching his neck in pleasure. After a while, he said, “OK, we can be friends.” He swung his head around toward her. “But no more bed building.”

The goat thought about his words. She wished she could be like the ox, stable, consistent, predictable and master one skill to perfection. She wondered how many beds he had made before he found the best bed, at least by his definition. But the more she thought about it, the more restricted she felt. She had to be free to explore, investigate and try new ways of doing things. It was simply part of her nature, just like being stable and predictable was part of his.

~ ~ ~

What happens when a Perfectionist meets a Jack of All Trades?

Interestedly, even though they have two different approaches, they still achieve the same outcome. One approaches the task by experimenting within a narrow framework until they are satisfied with the outcome. The Jack of All Trades experiments, too, but instead of doing the same thing over and over until it is mastered, experiments from a broader base of seemingly disparate experiences, trying this way or that way until she hits upon the easiest and most efficient way to accomplish a task. They both achieve perfection, just in different ways.

Meet the Jack of All Trades (Gate 35 in the Human Design chart)

The Jack (or Jenny) of all Trades is inherently curious and her life story reads like an job board, representing a person who has gathered a wide range of experiences and education. She has the drive to master the basics, attaining enough mastery over the skill or enough education so that she can understand the process. She learns new skills easily and retains them in an invisible database, always ready to be accessed. She continually adds to her varied array of tools and experiences so that in time, she knows about mechanical repairs for vehicles, having done some herself, computer and tech talents, having engaged in those activities, relationship, health and business practices, heavy equipment operation , languages and so much more, based upon where her strongest interests lie. Add the Gate 48 and there are a number of certifications involved, too.

Her wisdom is broad and she is able to see relationships and connections between seemingly disparate items. Because she has such a broad background, she is not afraid to try new things and tackle learning something new. Time, more than money, is her constraint. Somewhere in her skills database, are the fundamentals necessary to accomplish a new venture. When faced with challenges, she taps into her vast database of experiences, skills and multiple fields of study and finds unique solutions.

These are the people who know how to drive anything from a semi-truck to a sports car and anything in between. They easily pick up enough of the concepts required for that skill, practice it for a while, get bored, then move on. There is a lot of mental stimulation in learning something new. These people are like the goat, who is unconsciously driven to explore and investigate. If you have ever been around goats, you may have noticed that they are incredibly nimble, inquisitive and it takes a very sturdy, tall fence to keep them contained. The goat operates on the principle that the grass is always greener outside the fence.

There is a down side to the Jack of All Trades archetype. She is keenly aware that she doesn’t let the grass grow under foot and is in perpetual motion, going from one hobby, business venture or career, to another. She wonders if there is something wrong with her, especially when she hears people say things like,”Why don’t you pick something and stick with it?” Or “You’ll never amount to anything unless you settle down.” And there is the age old saying, “Jack of All Trades, Master of None.” People call her wishy-washy and get frustrated or impatient with her as she changes course frequently. Getting clarity, settling on one service or career is a real challenge for her.

The Jack of All Trades struggles with self worth. Because she doesn’t play by the usual rules, she often doubts herself. Since she has not ‘mastered’ something, she doesn’t think she is good enough to be considered valuable, be respected and charge what she is worth. It’s hard for a Jack of All Trades person to really appreciate and recognize the value that she brings to the table, especially when others can’t see it or acknowledge it. This is one of her challenges.

Secretly, the Jack of All Trades person wishes that she was like everyone else: stable, consistent and could stick to one thing. But that is not her destiny. She has to be free.

The Jack of All Trades serves a specific purpose in our world. Since she knows a little bit about a wide variety of topics, she can be very wise and think outside the box for solutions. Think of it this way. Would you like to be stranded in the woods with a resourceful Jack of All Trades or a Perfectionist, assuming the perfectionist is not a woods guide.

The Jack of All Trades is open to experimenting to find solutions and show others a broad range of options. She also can see how everything is connected, how things are interdependent upon other aspects of life and the similarities at the core of any challenge.

Let’s meet the Jack of All Trade’s counterpart, Perfection. (Gate 18 in the Human Design chart)

The Perfectionist’s job is to achieve mastery by going deep, practicing a form or particular skill over and over until she works out the glitches and can almost do it in her sleep. Her experience runs deep and she knows how to do a specific set of things very well. She belongs to the family of specialists in our society. Think of the specialized doctors in the medical field or computer programmers or auto mechanics or equipment operators. One way to tell a Perfectionist is that when you watch one working, they make the work look so easy. This comes from hours and hours of dedicated practice and experimenting till they figure it out and master the skill or topic.

However such specialization comes at a price; a narrowing of their world. Consider a medical doctor. A general practitioner knows a little bit about a lot of health conditions and if a person presents with a more complex problem, that person is referred to a specialist, who often knows an amazing amount about one organ network and not very much about the others. Nor is the specialist willing to talk about other organ networks outside their narrow scope of practice with a patient.

A Perfectionist archetype has the ability to focus their attention and remain consistent, like a musician practicing scales over and over every day until she can consistency perform longer and longer without mistakes. The Perfectionist encourages form and structure, stability and consistency. Compare this to the Jack of All Trades, who plays several instrument reasonably well and doesn’t worry too much if she makes a mistake.

Built into every archetype is it’s polarity, whose purpose is to balance its opposite. Notice how these two gates are on opposite sides of the chart. Inherent within the drive for perfection is the secret desire for freedom. When a Perfectionist meets a Jack of All Trades, complete with her invisible disregard for perfection and detail, the Perfectionist can become frustrated, annoyed and impatient and feel disrespected and unappreciated. The Perfectionist takes pride in her work. Her challenge is to not take the Jack of All Trades person personally, cultivate patience and tolerance.

By the same token, a Jack of All Trades person can get very impatient when a Perfectionist takes too long, gets too wrapped up in the details or is not willing to try a different way. She may take the proverbial bit in her teeth and take action, even if it’s wrong. This is like a slap in the face and annoys the Perfectionist enormously.

One of the biggest traps for a Perfectionist is getting bogged down in the details. Like the Projector, who doesn’t know when enough is enough, the Perfectionist has this same fate. Just like cleaning your house, there is always a spot you missed, deeper cleaning to do, clearing out the closet, organizing the garage, the yard and on and on. When creating a work of art, writing a report, building a cabinet or any other activity, the Perfectionist has to define when enough is enough. One way she can look at it is, first of all, most people will not notice the flaws and secondly, maybe the flaws are supposed to be there.

That being said, there is a place for the Perfectionist. When it comes to heart or back surgery, you will want to work with a Perfectionist! You can be assured that all the details will be tended to so that the outcome is positive.

Before you cast stones at one archetype or the other, remember that you have both energies. If you have openness in your chart, your experience of being a Jack of All Trades or a Perfectionist will depend upon your childhood imprinting and the people and environment where you spend time.

These two archetypal energy types affect how you approach your life. Other aspects in your chart will strengthen or mitigate these tendencies.

If one or the other is defined, you will notice these tendencies more consistently. It will be either an unconscious drive to perfect through practice or perfect through gathering tidbits of information from a wide variety of sources.

Each energetic tendency has a purpose and offers a blessing to our world. We need both energies to create balance and harmony. Without the rich variety of experiences that a Jack of All Trades bring to the table, our world view would be very narrow. The Jack of All Trades has the ability to create and remake from what she draws from her huge database of experiences. She can extract bits and pieces and put them together in a different order, thereby creating something new or forming a new solution. Combine this ability with the Gate 4, Answers and Gate 11, Ideas, then there is never an end to the possibilities. And without the attention to detail that the Perfectionist applies, ideals and truths could never be validated. The role of the Perfectionist is to prove that a concept actually works by doing it over and over until she discovers how to do it effectively and efficiently.

By working together each archetype brings balance to the world and by balancing these energies within ourselves, we find a pleasing balance between the big picture and an eye for detail. We need both to be whole.

This story is just a overview of the energies of these two gates. Depending upon the rest of your design, these energies may play a major or minor role in your life. If you are curious and want to learn more or read other articles, you’re invited to delve into who you really are at

Until then, keep watch for the Goat and the Ox.

Elaine Correia

By the way, I am a Goat in Chinese Astrology and have the Gate 35. I never appreciated it until just lately, when I realized that I bring a wide variety of valuable options to the table and understood that because of my vast array of experience, I am not afraid to tackle a challenge that others may shy away from. Of course, like the Goat in the story, I may have the talent, but it doesn’t mean I’ll stick with the challenge until it is complete. There is always something more interesting beckoning to me. :)

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