I love that this B Bar’s word of the month was leverage because it forced me to sit and think hard: what am I good at? What sets me apart from others? What skills or talents can I use as leverage?
It was an unnerving process.
As I sat on my tiny blue couch as it neared midnight, I tried hard to rack my brain for the right answers, but only three words kept materializing in my mind: I don’t know.
I simply didn’t know what I was exceptionally good at.
Sure, I’ve been an artistic person for as long as I can remember, I’m a decent writer, and yes, some might say that I have a knack for cooking. But even with these things, it’s not like I’m notably better-skilled at them than my peers.
So what can I do to change this?
1. // BUILD LEVERAGEABLE SKILLS.
This month’s prompt got me thinking back to something I read in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers that stuck with me ever since I first picked it up years ago. In the book he states that, after studying a laundry list of successful people like the members of Beatles and Bill Gates, the evidence shows that it takes around 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” to become a master in any field.
While there have been studies that claim to refute his argument, saying that it really depends on the type of field and how much practice one needs to succeed in that particular field (classical piano versus starting a business, for example) it doesn’t make the 10,000 rule any less compelling or thought-provoking.
But the problem is that despite the fact that I’d read and heard about this idea multiple times, I’d never actually applied it to myself – usually because I’d quickly lose interest or become impatient about seeing progress in whatever I was pursuing. I was also constantly jumping from one activity to another, which may have made me more well-rounded, but definitely not an expert by any means.
That’s why I think it’s critical to be focused when to comes to choosing what interests you want to build expertise in. The best way to do this is probably to research the most sought-after skills in your industry and one or two things to excel in, while considering what you’re passionate about at the same time. For me, this means writing and design.
2. // KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR STRENGTHS.
Fortunately, leverage doesn’t just apply to tangible and concrete talents. Things like personality traits, past experiences, or even your location (as Meg mentioned in her post) can be used as bargaining chips in both your career and life ambitions. I also strongly believe that thoroughly knowing yourself – your strengths/weaknesses, likes/dislikes, comfort level – can be an asset of its own.
Here are some of my personal strengths:
My level of ambition: I set high goals for myself and plan to reach them. I’m the type of person that’s always writing down lists upon lists of short term and super duper long term goals. This always gives me something, however minor, to work toward and look forward to.
My sensitiveness: I was always that one kid who always looked like she’d just been crying, strawberry-red nose, tear-stained cheeks and all. Even to this day, I’m very easily emotionally affected. I’ve experienced several years of depression/anxiety but I hope that my hardships have made me more empathetic or relatable (on that note, watch this cute video to understand the difference between empathy vs sympathy).
Living abroad + traveling: My dad was (and still is) always traveling for business, and luckily that meant my family and I often went on vacations to countries far and wide. It’s gonna take a lot more fingers than I have to count all the countries that I’ve visited from ages 6-18! In addition to that, I spent a huge chunk of my childhood in Seoul, where I attended an international school. I’d say that being exposed to so many different kinds of people and cultures at an early age definitely gives me something to talk about and also makes me more travel-savvy.
The formula for success isn’t a simple equation. It includes more variables that you can imagine, and that means that as crucial as explicit skills and abilities are, it’s truly not the end of the world because I guarantee that you have many other qualities that make you uniquely brilliant! (enter groan here)
Alyssa J Freitas // Annie Reeves // The Not Quite Adult // Equal Parts of a Whole // Life Modifier // soak and simmer // Carrie Loves // Otherworldly // Emilie Lima Burke // Knowing Kelly // Something Good // PreppyPanache // Cassandra Monroe // Ember & March // Rossetto // Feathers and Stripes // Leigh Clair // Southern Soul // All The Pretty Stars // Perfect Enough For Us // Mrs. on the Move // Mint Julep Girl // A Minimalist Blog // Beauty and the Pitch // Meg Biram
What are YOUR unique strengths?