Recently, I heard a heartwarming story on NPR about Cahree Myrick, a 7th grader from Baltimore who just became the U.S. Chess Federation SuperNationals champion. The teen talked of his chess upbringing, learning to play with the guys at the local barbershop. It was adorable.
After winning his title, he had the opportunity to attend baseball game featuring his beloved Baltimore Orioles. Prior to game time, he was invited to play chess against several of the Orioles players (of note, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop). No surprise, he crushed them all! Though these icons are super heroes to young Cahree, though they are phenomenal at playing baseball, they had no chance against hero of the Chess SuperNationals… this kid is phenomenal at chess!
The point: Be good at your thing.
It’s funny, though I bill myself as and have had great success as a “Networking Coach,” I’ll never forget, while a director at a major company years ago, I managed a team of executive coaches. In fact, one of them was (and remains to this day) my own coach. Shortly after I had accepted the position, in a moment of self-doubt, I shared with a colleague in another division that I was intimidated by these amazing professionals since I was not an executive coach. My friend looked at me quizzically and said, “There is no need for you to be an executive coach – you have access to a whole team of them. You were not hired to be a coach; you were hired to lead the coaches! You know how to lead – you’re really good at it. So, lead.” Indeed.
Once again: Be good at your thing.
Of course, it is not to say you can’t be good at many, many things. It is not to say that you cannot pick up skills and areas of expertise along the way – you can. The idea, instead, is to know what you bring to the table and be excellent at it. Strive to be the very best at “your thing.” Become the known expert in your field. However, when you lack expertise or knowledge, sometimes the best thing to do is not to start learning to do it on your own from scratch, but to collaborate with, partner with or hire it out to someone who possesses the skillset and information you seek.
What’s your thing? Whatever you do, be good at it.
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One thought to “Be Good at Your Thing”
I enjoyed this post. It reminded me of one of my favorite “career development” books titled, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport. It’s a wonderful, insightful, and valuable read. His newest book, Deep Work, is also a winner. It’s an outstanding read if you want to get good at “going deep” with project work of any kind.