Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Sachin of Wealth Advisors.
It’s an interesting fact that major success is based on talent far more than qualifications. The world’s richest people are in many cases self made billionaires. They know their basic stuff very well, but they’ve also targeted areas where they have real talent. Like artists, they find their mediums, and develop them. Wealth management, wealth creation, and wealth philosophy tend to be based on nuts and bolts approaches, not the individual flair which separates the ultra- successful from the merely profitable.
Principles of individuality
Everybody is born different. Everybody’s brain is hardwired differently. These are physical facts. You are yourself, and there’s no point in trying to be somebody else. Everyone has different affinities for different subjects. One person sees rocks where another person sees a way of making billions.
The fact is that people’s logic and inspiration mechanisms are tuned to some things and not to others. The great pianist is a lousy plumber. The fabulously brilliant stock market trader may or may not be able to change a light globe. The logical fallacy is the theory that simply because you’ve been trained to do something, you’ll do it well. You’ll do it better than you would without training, yes, but brilliantly?
Individuality is your primary resource. The areas where you have the strongest skills are by definition where you’re most competitive, and most receptive to your own talents. It’s no surprise whatsoever to see that talent beats drudge-level business. Inspiration and aspiration tend to be based on your higher brain functions, not on the zombie- level “How To” mechanisms.
Identifying your talents
Henry Ford started as a jeweller. Bill Gates was a business school dropout. Their success came from strong understanding of their best skills in relation to business.
- What do you always enjoy doing?
- What are the areas where you seem to be able to see things as obvious, where others get lost?
- What are the things you always do well?
- In what areas are you really confident about your abilities?
1. The things you always enjoy are also the things you find effortless. You could do them for decades, and not raise a sweat.
2. The areas where your logic is better than others are the areas where you have real talent.
3. The things you always do well are your real skill sets.
4. Confidence means you’ll definitely do what needs doing, and do it well.
Now, compare your skills, interests and talents to everything else you do:
- The things you enjoy are disproportionately valued. You naturally put a higher value on them than other things.
- The areas where you think better are your preferred working environment. This is where you need to be, to function well.
- The best skills check will show a huge gap in potential for achievement and actual achievement.
- Confidence is inevitably a comparative performance measure.
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
I would recommend that everyone watch the video of Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame) give a talk The Entertainment Group 2008 on the show and the nature of work. The relevant part starts at about minute 11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-udsIV4Hmc
This video was brought to my attention at the blog Get Rich Slowly. There are over 100 comments that largely support my feelings on this topic. http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2010/09/20/the-war-on-work/
Also at the EG 2008 conference was Tim Ferriss. While I wouldn’t want to live Ferriss’ lifestyle (I don’t like to travel), he is the antithesis of the “work your passion” crowd. His idea is to work as little as possible because the non-work stuff is more fun. My belief is that, for the average person, reality is somewhere in between Ferriss and Vaynerchuk.
But if someone can produce a viable business model out of eclectic pleasure reading without reading aloud or doing book reviews, I will offer that person equity in the resultant business that I start.
I agree that you should find that one thing that you personally do really well. Once you follow that passion, you’ll find that the business can be made from it. If you can’t find that think keep searching… take risks, try new things, keep taking steps forward and asking what if?
There’s no reason anyone should be unhappy. It’s up to you to write your own life story by the choices you make.
It has always seemed to me like the super-rich were really just doing what they loved, and would have been doing it anyways, regardless of the financial gain. I doubt any of them really saw the full on potential (financially) of what they were doing and that they would someday be super-rich. I’m sure they knew they would be successful, but perhaps not to the levels that they later became. I’m thinking of Google, Microsoft, Branson, etc…
I wonder if people sometimes focus too much on being successful, as opposed to focusing on what they are creating and what they love. Things which could make people successful without focusing on being successful.
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
As in other areas of life, I feel “always” is a loaded term. There isn’t a thing on this planet that I ALWAYS enjoy, that I ALWAYS do well. Aside from my general complaint about following passion, I don’t think there is anyone you can say ALWAYS in relation to a skill or interest. Some days, you’re not on top of your game, in a rut, a funk, etc and don’t perform at your best, botch routine tasks. Likewise, you can wake up on the wrong side of the bed, get into a fight with your significant other, or suffer a loss and be in a mood where you’re not enjoying things you usually do.
While there are many things I enjoy doing, there is nothing I ALWAYS enjoy doing, or can imagine being excited about for decades. Decades? Often I have trouble sustaining an effort over a week. I do best in tasks that are varied as opposed to doing the same thing day in and day out.
Mark Powers says
@ Edward: I understand what you’re saying about always, but perhaps you haven’t yet found that “thing” that makes you tick.
I’m a musician. And that definitely is something that I always love doing (and have now [nearly non-stop] for a little over two decades). Just two nights ago, I was outside puking my brains out right before a show, causing the band to miss our soundcheck . . . twice. But there was no way in hell I was going to not go onstage. Kept a bucket alongside the drumset in case of emergency, but I was there. Because I always love doing it.
Sounds like cheesy, cliché relationship advice, but keep looking Edward. It’s out there. Don’t assume that what you’re doing now is supposed to be that “thing.” Don’t force it. Get out and try some new things. You may discover something that you will always love doing.
Great article, Sachin . . . thanks much!
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
Over the past decade, I’ve done a pretty thorough accounting of my skills and interests. There are a number of things that I enjoy in general and in moderation, like gardening, cooking, and movies and a few things that I really don’t enjoy, like speaking in front of people, heights, and eggplant.
At the end of the day, I realize I’ve come pretty close to achieving a goal that seemed so sexy back in high school, being a Renaissance man who dabbles and can converse in most subjects but doesn’t have solid specialization. Problem is, that sort of thing only really works if you don’t actually have to work for a living. 🙂
I guess there is one thing I enjoy more than anything else. I love to read. In middle school, I won an award for reading, and got a small scholarship from the library when I graduated. A few years ago, a friend mentioned that she was having trouble keeping up with her New Year’s Resolution to read one book per month. I laughed because I average about a book per WEEK. I read older science-fiction, science, economics, psychology, personal development, biographies, newspapers, technology, politics, and the occasional piece on philosophy.
I’d be interested in discussing ways of making a living off of reading that don’t include 1) reading aloud or 2) doing book reviews.
I think you are right on point with this post. Edward is right, we all have off days, but it’s by pursuing that which enjoy most that makes it easier to tolerate the off days. I believe people need all the encouragement they can get in developing natural talents because we often end up in situations that are in direct opposition to them.
Individuality is your greatest asset, but sometimes it is difficult to embrace (great post idea there). Individuality requires transparency, self-confidence, and courage. When those things come together rest seems to fall into place.