Getting Good Where it Really Matters

4 Feb

Last night I attended a seminar on women as budding entrepreneurs given by Suparna Bhasin of She Creates Change.  I LOVED Suparna’s energy, her enthusiasm, and her ability to connect and relate to her audience, which was comprised of about 30-40 women of all ages and career levels who were anywhere from established business owners to entrepreneurs waiting to happen.  That was the title of her seminar – “Are You An Entrepreneur Waiting to Happen?”  While I won’t recap all of her amazing bullet points (you can find them on her blog at SheCreatesChange.com), there was one specific take-away concept I found particularly fantastic:

“Don’t get really good at what you DON’T want to do.”

In a modern American culture where overachievement is not just a standard, but almost an expectation, especially these days with the market being what it is and layoffs amassing daily, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “Do! Do! XDo!” and then…”Do Better!”  Even if we don’t particularly LIKE what we do.  This is particularly true of younger people, who are fairly eager to prove themselves professionally early-on.  And we’re saying to ourselves, “well, isn’t it enough/aren’t I just lucky to have SOMETHING to do as a career?”  I suppose that comes down to your own personal situation.  Personally, that’s not what I took away from last night’s seminar, nor is it part of my own school of thought.

“Don’t get really good at what you DON’T want to do.”

This one rang loud and personal to me.  I think I can say confidently in any job that I’ve had, even when I know I was completely dissatisfied with it, it was still my nature to do the job well, perhaps above and beyond what was expected – to have everything documented, color-coded, and easily accessible from 5 different places so that I was never out of touch with a single detail, should anyone call upon me for it.  But for what?  Was I ever given a raise simply for my proactivity and organizational genius?  Hardly.  In fact, at the end of the day, it was probably 80% me doing it because I needed to expand that extra energy to alleviate any fear that I might not be doing my job well.  I was so scared of not being “great”, that I considered the only other alternative to be “sub-par”.

As a result there were plenty of things I got really good at that I don’t (and never did) want to do: sales, data entry, using Microsoft Office, customer service, solving other people’s menial problems with communication and organization simply because I could, etc. etc..  These are all great things to have PRACTICED and become good at, because they’re necessary skills for any career, save for the last, but they’re certainly not things I want to become a concentrating expert in.  Get my drift?

“Don’t get really good at what you DON’T want to do.”

Probably in the same way that Freddie Prinze Jr. should have branched out of teen heartthrob movies by the age of 35 (whoops!), many people never heed this advice.  Instead, get good at these skills, the necessary ones, forget the others, and spend that extra time practicing or perfecting the REAL skills that will make you an expert in the field you really want to be in:  takes some classes towards your aspiring field, further educate yourself, conduct research, network, talk to peers, improve your verbal and non-verbal communication skills.  Find happiness.  Find out what you should REALLY be getting good at… and then do it.  Need help with that?  Let’s talk.

Credit: Suparna Bhasin, She Creates Change, LLC

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