I recently watched a video posted to 99U, where Adobe’s Vice President of Community, Scott Belsky, talks about how brands, businesses, and individuals find their competitive advantage by identifying what they are willing to be ‘bad’ at in order to focus on what they will be extremely successful at.
After watching this video, I started thinking about how this concept relates to all aspects of life. Lately I’ve realized that in both my personal and business life I am always trying to be good at everything – or at least half decent. That may be because of my extremely competitive nature or it may be because that’s just the way many of us are wired; to take on numerous tasks and challenges and be good at all of them.
Whether you are comparing yourself to what your peers or colleagues are capable of, or just continuously trying to add to your repertoire of skills, the fact remains: there are only so many things you can truly be good at.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think it is worth-while to try as many different things as possible, to never stop expanding your knowledge of different areas, just not to try and be an expert at all of them. Figure out what it is that you are really good at and what you ENJOY doing and also acknowledge what it is that you are not good at….and be OK with that.
Having a competitive advantage doesn’t necessarily mean that you are capable of absolutely everything, but that you can do one thing or a few things extremely well. As Belsky says “Focusing on everything, means you aren’t actually focused on anything”. Setting yourself up as the expert in a certain area will set you apart better than being a generalist in many things. This is extremely true in the business world; make yourself an indispensible member of the team by being the ‘go-to’ person in a certain area. Being able to just ‘do’ everything will never set you apart or get you noticed for that that promotion or raise.
In my personal life, I have gone through numerous phases of interest in many different areas. For instance I wanted to sing, play guitar, play golf, play soccer, hike, ski, cook, be a fashionista, be business woman, take on a spin challenge, start blogging….etc. the list goes on… and what I’ve recently realized, is that although it is great to be ambitious, I would much rather be really successful at a select few things, than set myself up for failure because I’ve taken on too much. Belsky states you should actually choose to be bad at some things, so you can allocate more energy and resources to the things you really want to be good at.
I truly believe it’s important to find your niche, don’t ever stop tweaking it and keeping up with current trends or market demands, but realize that you’re not going to be perfect. It’s having a sense of self-awareness – and knowing that what makes you different actually gives you an advantage. Stop trying to emulate others…distinguish yourself and be proud of what you have to offer 🙂
I encourage you to watch this video and share your thoughts!