You want to be successful. Extraordinarily successful. In the midst of the immense crowd, you have got to be either the very best, or go home. But how does one reach that stage?
The path most trodden upon
The path that seems the most obvious is working hard towards developing one single skill better than everybody else. Once you do that, success will come naturally.
Stepping into the real world, doing this seems almost impossible. However good you get at something, there’s going to be someone doing as good, or better than you.
You might devote whole of your life towards developing that one skill, and someone might as well beat you to it. Bear in mind, it’s not your incapability, just the vast number of people working on that exact same skill.
Wait… no need to be such a jerk
By this point you might ask — Why is this guy being so pessimistic?
I’m not. I’m just trying to bring you out of the mindset that you most probably have hard wired within you. The mindset that if you focus on just one thing, you are bound to succeed.
I’m not shitting on you. I’ve been exactly where you are, with exactly that same mindset. When I started producing music, I wanted to be the very best at that. It got me nowhere. Then I started developing websites, and I wanted to be the very best at that. Same. I tried several other things, but none of them worked out, instead they just left me bitter and frustrated.
It took me some time to realise what I was doing wrong. All this time I focused on just one thing — and one thing only. Whether it was production, or developing or whatever. I just focused on that craft, never on any other aspect of it.
And it wasn’t until I started doing well in my Graphic Design business, that I got this realisation. When I started design, I wasn’t just doing what I was passionate about (designing), but I was also continuously networking with people and learning how to market myself.
That makes it 3 skills. I was continuously improving not one, but 3 skills, and that’s what gave me a lift off. I’m obviously not the most successful person. Hell, I don’t even think of myself as slightly successful yet. But this very realisation has given me the confidence that one day I can definitely get where I want to be.
“Don’t be a jack of all trades”
The world has continuously told us to focus on just one thing. They said that you shouldn’t sail on two boats. And warned you not be a jack of all trades. So were they wrong?
They weren’t. Our interpretation was.
What they were talking about is to focus on a single GOAL. We usually mistake mastering a skill for a goal. You can still accomplish your goal by getting great at 3 skills, instead of becoming the very best at one.
What’s the alternative?
I recently read about Scott Adams’ concept of 2 alternate strategies for success in Tim Ferriss’ book — Tools of Titans, and I loved it so much I instantly inherited it.
What it talks about is basically that to become extraordinarily successful, you have to be either the very best at one skill, or great (top 25%) in 2 or more skills.
If you look at it practically, getting in the top 25% for a multitude of skills is not that hard. Hell you’re probably already in the top 25% of some.
How to implement this?
You can create your own mixture of skills. The market favours everything that’s rare and valuable. What I found the most useful implementation is a mix of these 3 skills (or their variations)—
Doesn’t matter if it’s verbal or written, you need to learn how to communicate if you want to succeed in this noisy world. Good communication is rare. By getting better at it, you’ll increase your chances of being heard.
This should be easy. Practice your craft, and constantly improve at it. Chances are, you’re already pretty good at it. Just keep refining it.
Good communication and doing what you’re passionate about are important skills. But at the end of the day, it matters how you grow and market yourself as a brand. After all that’s what’s going to let you keep doing what you love. Learn the business aspect of your craft.
In order to become successful in today’s world, you need to do something different. Working on just a single skill set has always been the strategy people have adopted. But times have changed. You no longer need to be the very best at something. Just work on these 3 (or any variations of these) skills, get in the top 25% tier for each of them, and you’ll be on your way to success.