“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”
― John Guare
With 2020 fast approaching many are already future thinking. There are goals to be smashed, habits to be dropped and milestones to be reached. With this piece I am more interested in talking about how you can leverage your average skill in 2020 and become great at what you do even if you are not the best. Dr Eric Thomas wrote a book called Average Skill, Phenomenal Will, which I recommended in 5 books I wish everyone could read. The book simply talks about how phenomenal will will trump excellent skill on any day if that skill isn’t combined with dedication, hard-work and patience.
Normally, people think that success comes from developing talent in one skill. This works well in some fields. In medicine, the natural progression is to pick a speciality. Sports, you train to become best in your field, like Tiger Woods (golf) and Michael Jordan (basketball). In acting, you develop the best acting chops, like Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman.
But besides becoming world-class in one skill, talent can come from having a unique stack of skills that no one else has. You can utilise different skills to create value in a way no one else can, thus becoming one-of-a-kind in your own league. Scott Adams created Dilbert, a famous comic strip that appears in 65 countries. Scott is said to have a net worth of $75 million, majority of which comes from Dilbert, and he coined a phrase that he called talent stack. It’s the idea that you can combine normal skills until you have the right kind to be extraordinary. An example is Scott himself. He’s not the best artist — there are better artists than him. He’s not much of a business expert — there are more savvy experts. He has never taken a college-level writing class, yet he has a comic strip that is doing so well.
He says, “When you add in my ordinary business skills, my strong work ethic, my risk tolerance, and my reasonably good sense of humour, I’m fairly unique. And in this case that uniqueness has commercial value.” As you can see, he attributes his success to his character not his skill.
When I wrote my book and started my blog, I was not much of a writer — I have never taken a professional writing class. I am average at web design skills. My marketing and business strategy skills are also average. I however have very strong analytical skills and content creation skills plus a strong passion for growth.
Put these together and I was able to create a business that thrives despite stiff competition. And the driving factor is not the content I deliver but the fact that it is me that is delivering the content. Many people future thinking now are stuck because they feel they lack in one or more areas hence their venture will not succeed. What i will tell you though is that you are enough. You may not be complete but you are enough. The skills that you lack can be learned or hired, but your character cannot be. In your future thinking include this phrase: I AM ENOUGH.In 2020 you are your only limitation, please do not self sabotage. Click To Tweet
To help you with your future thinking here’s how talent stack works:
- You leverage on the skills that you have, to create an edge. Marketing, networking, technical, design, etc.
- Even if you don’t have a skill, you can learn it to set yourself apart from others.
- You mix seemingly normal skills together and become extraordinary in your own right.
Let’s say you are a software engineer. You are average in your field but you design and develop software with ease. However, you are stuck in a job that pays you almost the same amount every year.
Many software engineers are technically competent but lack the waviness to market themselves. They are simply not taught how to market themselves in engineering and computing classes. A possible talent stack here can be:
- Technical. You already have this skill if you’re a software developer.
- Networking. You form positive relationships with people across the organisation. This gives you high visibility among the management. You form relationships with recruiters, headhunters, and peers in different industries to expand your job options. You know how to use tools like LinkedIn to connect with industry peers and get potential job offers.
- Presentation. You can present yourself well, and your ideas eloquently.
- Marketing. You know how to market yourself and sell your strengths. Your resume is filled with achievements but not responsibilities. You know how to present your skills and job history in the best way.
You don’t need to be the best in networking/presentation/marketing. Just knowing some networking, presentation, and marketing skills puts you at a sweet spot, ahead of others. Because everyone else (in your field) lacks these skills. Read more about the Sweet Spot here.
The goal of a talent stack is to stack different skills to create a sweet spot. A sweet point that dramatically raises your value in a competitive field. This applies whether you are a blogger, salaried employee, business owner, baker, software developer, coach, or something else.
My questions to you are:
- What industry are you in? Blogging? Health and fitness? IT? Coaching? Online business? YouTube? Others?
- In your industry, what skills do people compete on?
- Given that everyone has these skills in #2, what new skills can you learn to triple-double your market value?
If you have absolutely no idea what to learn, some true-north skills that are great for stacking are:
- Public speaking
- Coding (it’s no longer for tech geeks alone)
- Social media marketing
- Business management
- Design (graphic or otherwise)
- Whatever you are passionate about
Again, you don’t need to be the best in every skill. Simply learning a new skill opens up so many options and avenues. For some, learning and combining different skills may be the answer to discover your passion and talent — rather than something that you discover by sitting around and waiting for life to happen. In 2020 you are your only limitation, please do not self sabotage. Share with us you your future thinking in the comments section.
Happy holidays and merry Christmas