Most people want to be really good at something during their lifetime. Anything. Not just competent, or above average, but exceptional.
So good, that the rewards associated with that endeavor flow your way. I’m thinking about recognition, gratitude, admiration, money, power, prestige or any other return associated with being really good at something.
You could be a scientist, plumber, doctor, accountant, home builder, teacher, artist or social worker. It doesn’t matter. We all want to excel at something.
Unfortunately, although most people are capable of being really good at something, most will experience mediocre results not meeting the optimistic expectations of youth.
Why? Do we have to accept this outcome?
What is the key to excelling at SOMETHING in life?
I know, I know, I know. Every self-help book talks about the same old things: Hard work, goal setting, positive attitude, tenacity, etc. All of these factors are extremely important. I have written several blogs about them, and fully believe in the importance of each one.
However, we can’t be naive, or simplistic, about the steps it takes to become “really good”, exceptional or elite in any endeavor.
What about the famous “great ones”, that command fame and fortune? Did they simply just follow the typical recipes for success?
Michael Jordan’s work ethic in practice was legendary, and often acknowledged as a key to his success. There are stories of him taking hundreds of daily practice shots. Important, but do any of us really believe that if we simply replicated his practice routine, took a hundred shots per day, that we would “Be Like Mike”?
The other night my youngest son was practicing Taekwondo with Master Jonathan Fleming of WOW Taekwondo in Waxhaw NC. We met Jonathan years ago when he was 19, and we recognized his special attribute. As I watched, I thought to myself: Jonathan is really exceptional at using taekwondo to develop kids! The classes are packed, the kids are sweating profusely, but he has motivated each student to want to be a better person. WOW! http://www.wowtaekwondo.com
Think about someone you consider to be really good at something. Not prestigious, like an NBA star or brain surgeon, but someone more “everyday” like a “go to” contractor builder who seems to be impossible to schedule. I’ll use my most trusted guy, Herbert Umanzor of Complete Landscape.
When Herbert came here from El Salvador and received his citizenship, he did not arrive with a fancy college degree, and English was his second language. Yet, he is considered to be really good in his profession. For example, my mother-in-law referred Herbert to her friend during a conversation in the salon. The friend now raves about Herbert’s work, and plans for him to do more projects for her.
Why is he really good, and always in demand?
It’s simple in concept.
His ability, creativity and interest to “build and fix things”, is aligned with what people are looking for in a contractor. So when I need something built or fixed, or advice on a project, I call him first.
His primary attribute is aligned with the attribute most valued in his profession.
Here is another practical example…
My daughter is beginning to prepare for the SAT/ACT, so I asked a respected colleague of mine (who has college aged kids) who he would recommend. Without delay, he said “Call Angie Lunking of Action Test Prep. She is really good”. http://www.actiontestprep.com
Her schedule was full, but eventually my wife and daughter met with Angie and returned home impressed and optimistic about the value of Action Test Prep. “Angie is very smart and well prepared, and enthusiastic about teaching students”.
Most people who are really good at something, like Angie, Herbert and Jonathan, recognize their primary attributes and set a professional course based on leveraging these strengths.
Unfortunately, most people are never encouraged to use self-knowledge (attributes and interests) to customize their best path in life. “Two Questions That Lead To Life Satisfaction”
Life planning should not use a “cookie cutter” approach, applied indiscriminately to everyone, regardless of their attributes. This is why I wrote these blogs.
Think about it. Herbert, Angie, Jonathan or MJ could have tried hundreds of other endeavors in life, not consistent with their primary attributes, and probably would have just muddled along in frustration.
Does anyone truly believe that (hall of fame player) Michael Jordan would automatically be exceptional as a academic tutor, home builder or martial arts instructor, just because he is “Mike”?
Of course, I can not speak to their personal financial status, but I would be willing to bet that Angie, Herbert and Jonathan, based on what I know about the demand for their excellent services, are doing just fine financially.
That is the bonus for the people who plan their career paths based on the flawed and unsatisfying goal of “making money”, as discussed in past blogs.
If I could give one piece of advice to every high school kid in America that would be invaluable in life planning, it would be to work on answering this simple question:
What is your best attribute, and what professions seek this as THE primary attribute?