I used to work frantically (and usually unsuccessfully) to either cover up or rationalize these areas — because after many years of education I’d been convinced that we all had to be good at everything. Geometry, Chemistry, English, Folk Dancing, Athletics — and that if you weren’t great you just kept slogging to improve.
In a nutshell: You’ve got things that you’re really great at, and things that you suck at. (Well, he doesn’t say “suck”.) And if you focus all your time on improving what you don’t do well, you someday might improve all the way to kind-of-all-right. But if you focus on the things you’re already great at, you could become world-class.
Short aside — this is usually where people say “Well, but what if that thing I’m bad at is realtionships? Or raising children? Or world peace?” And then I say “I’m trying to make a point here — bite me!”
It changed how I think about the skills that I need to run my business, the skills I need to live my life, and the skills I need to get where I want to go. Now I have three categories:
- Things I’m Great At
- Things I Suck At, But Would LIKE To Improve At
- Things I Could Die Without Ever, Ever Doing Again
I spend lots of time trying to improve at #1 — to the point where I can charge clients embarrassing amounts of money because I’m the cat’s ass.
I spend virtually no time on #3, and either pay someone else or find a way to just stop doing stuff that I’m really not good at.
I was reminded of this the other day, when I offended a friend by observing that she really sucked at a particular skill. (I had noticed that she was telling this to a large group, and celebrating the fact that she’d found an assistant who could handle this task seamlessly — so my friend could do the voodo that she do do so well.) But in my typical insensitive way, I forgot that some people havn’t had my years and years of announcing to the world that they suck at stuff.
So I’m now adding a “Step Four” to the list.
Announce, loudly and proudly, that there are things that you suck at. And that it’s really OK with you — actually, that you’re proud of it.
That it benefits your clients, because you’re focused like a laser beam on improving the skill set that they pay you for. That it benefits your spouse, because you’re focused on being the best husband/wife/partner/clone that you can be.