How to Improve

Work to your strengths.

You can do some things far better than me. In fact, you can do some things far better than most people you know. But you’re still probably not the best in the world. After all, that’s one out of 7 Billion. So that means you can still improve.

The problem is you get diminishing returns though. Going from being really good at something to being the worlds best is monumental, but anyone can dramatically improve at things they’ve never done before with just a small amount of practice. To improve when you’re already good requires high level coaching, deliberate training and practice. To improve when you’re just a novice is simple – just have a go.

But when you want to have a real impact on the world, you don’t actually have to be #1. You can actually make a real difference being #2024752. You just need to work smarter.

Scott Adams’ Talent Stack

Scott Adams talks about a “talent stack” in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life – where you can apply your various skills in unrelated areas to become a true influencer and leader. The summary of this idea is that you might be good at say “writing” – not the best, but pretty good. And you are also pretty good at acrobatics – again, not an olympian, but better than most. You are probably significantly more qualified to write about acrobatics than most authors AND most acrobats. You’ve found a niche that fits you perfectly.

So all you’d need to do is find those areas that you are already good at, and combine them in interesting ways.

The way this works is that you’re removing competition by limiting your audience. Finding your niche. There are guaranteed to be better writers out there than me. But the very best authors are probably writing real literature, and I’m not competing with them by posting a blog. And the very best bloggers have their own niche – some tell inspiring stories, some use humour to engage readers. I talk about how small changes can add up to big results in business and personal life. My niche is not yet perfect – because there are people out there who do it better than me, I’m nowhere near the top of the competition yet. But I understand that I can focus on a tighter niche, and I can develop my strengths in ways that distinguish me from those others. I don’t have to be better if I’m sufficiently different. And I can also be better, because I have potential to improve through deliberate, focused practice.

Gary Vee’s Communication Strategy

If you want to get people’s attention though, you need to have some skill in at least one  form of communication. Gary Vanyerchuk points out that there are really only three platforms for communication. Facebook and Twitter didn’t really change anything. You have Visual (Video), Aural (Audio) and Written. This lines up with the learning styles “VARK” system developed by Neil Flemming (the K is for “kinesthetic”, or physical practice). So it seems important to develop skills in one of those three areas (or more) if you want to be able to be noticed in today’s media rich world.

So start there – develop your skills in writing, in speaking, and in presenting. But don’t get stuck there thinking you need to be #1 – look for ways to be different enough. Focus your content on areas you’re strong in. And develop in those areas. If you’re finding the competition still drowns you out, then find something different enough that you can add that makes you stand out.

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