A major duty that I had at a previous employer was to assist in selecting professional speakers to address large audiences of sales professionals. In so doing, I became somewhat jaded after viewing hundreds of tapes and seeing dozens of them on stage in person. They too often sounded alike. Many used the same weary stories and references in their presentations.
Occasionally, however, there would come along someone who was a breath of fresh air with something different to offer. It might come in the form of a delivery style, sincerity, life experience, voice quality, or a distinct message. One such speaker grabbed my attention when he said, "We ask the wrong question. Too often we ask,’ How smart are you?’ when the right question should be, ‘How are you smart?’ "
He pointed out that one person can sell. Another can perform magic on an automobile engine. One can tear a computer apart and put it back together while yet someone else can write a novel.
That speaker brought to my mind the myriad of talents found in any group of people that might assemble. Too often we look at what others (and ourselves) do NOT do well rather than focus on tasks that are performed with excellence.
It reminded me of a conversation I once heard on a tape with a renowned Chinese table-tennis coach. One young man under his tutelage possessed a world class serve but had only a mediocre backhand. The coach asked the interviewer, "Which of the two skills do you think we work on the most?"
"His backhand, of course. That’s where he needs the most improvement."
"Wrong," replied the coach. "It would be foolish to waste our time on a skill that will never become more than average at best. We spend the bulk of our training on making the world’s best serve even better!"
What does all of this have to do with you as an entrepreneur?
Simply this. Ask yourself, "How am I smart? What are my personal and professional talents? What can I do to accentuate these skills?" Or, as Jim Collins might ask, "How can I go from good to great?"
The objective is not to totally ignore the areas in which you need to improve. Rather, it is to do what you can do to become adequate in those areas while devoting the majority of your time and energy excelling at what you do best. It is not to answer the question, "How smart am I?"
Indeed, it is to answer the more relevant question, "How am I smart?"
Bill Sheridan—‘Sheridan Writes’
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