Success Tip: Primary Skills vs. Secondary Skills

I was talking with Will, a multi-talented musician friend, last night about success and getting things done.

When you are good at a range of things, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you want to do.

He told me “it’s hard for us generalists to settle down and do one thing well.”

I like landscape painting, for instance.

I’m not amazing at it, but I’m good.

I also like recording music. I am a good songwriter.

However, I am best at writing gardening books. And that’s where my success has been.

Some years ago, sci-fi author Bruce Bethke told me that I was “good” at art and music, but that I was really good at writing.

“Any time you spend on secondary skills takes away from your primary skill, and that’s the skill that will bring you the most success,” he told me.

So I pursued writing primarily.

You have to settle down somewhere.

Though I am not convinced that you should completely abandon your secondary skills. Sometimes you can use them to bolster your primary skill, like when an author is also a good illustrator and uses his art in his books.

The main problem generalists have is a lack of focus. You can have incredible firepower but never get anything done.

When your skills are focused to a point and directed towards a target, you will succeed.

Many people talk about their plans to write a book or start a photography studio or organize their garage so they can start sewing again… yet it doesn’t happen because they don’t have focus.

Focus! Tell yourself “this week it happens – and it starts today!” Put everything else aside and stop pointing your talent all over the map.

Decide what you would like to accomplish and put your mind on it. No TV, no phone, no surfing the net, no distractions from friends. Any extra time you have gets focused on that thing that’s been eating at you, that you know you’re good at but never do.

Ready… aim… fire!

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Published at Wed, 16 Mar 2022 10:55:59 -0400

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