There are lots of different opinions about how to be successful. Take a walk through the self-help section of
Borders Barnes and Noble. Tony Schwartz, of The Energy Project, believes you should manage your energy. Dan and Chip Heath think you should learn what’s Made to Stick, and gain influence by telling stories. Peter Guber is right there with them, and thinks you should Tell to Win. Barry Schwartz believes that by learning how to decide and overcome The Paradox of Choice, we will be more effective and happier. Keith Ferrazzi is a networker and thinks you should Never Eat Alone. Don’t forget Seth Godin, who wants you to be an indispensable Linchpin. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi believes that through the experience of Flow, you will be more productive and happier.
I believe all of them.
I was introduced to a new idea while reading Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham. He suggested that the way to truly differentiate yourself was not to spend time and energy improving your weakness, but to find your biggest strengths and improve them even further. Tim Ferriss echoes this idea in The 4-Hour Workweek.
This came as a paradigm shift for me. I’ve always believed that I should improve myself by fixing my weaknesses. This new suggestion, to get my weaknesses to a tolerable level and put the bulk of my energy into my strengths, is new and somewhat refreshing.
It takes more energy to go from bad to average than it does to go from good to incredible.
As I think about all the different frameworks that exist to be successful in life, I get the impression that they all work. An idea I’ve toyed with is reading only one book, over and over again, for 6 months. Instead of flying through a wide breadth of materials, focusing on one and greatly increasing my depth.
The problem is that I like breadth. I love reading new ideas and new concepts. As I go, I assimilate many of them into my lifestyle and thought process. But breadth is no longer in vogue. Don’t be a Renaissance Man. Instead, be a specialist. Today’s glory is found in knowing more and more about less and less. Focus focus focus.