Acknowledge where you excel, strengthen other areas
To be truly successful, put your heart and souls into even the smallest of your tasks.
I have some great people in my family. One of my sisters is an attorney, and although my dad is still trying to retire to become a professional golfer, he is a very successful businessman. My mom was an aero-ballistics engineer and programmed missile trajectory in the event that we needed to send some missiles with nasty stuff on the end of them to Russia during the Cuban Missile Crisis. One grandfather constructed many of the buildings still standing in Dallas today, while another was a lead engineer for the lunar roving vehicle for NASA. There’s a pattern of detail-oriented people in my family. Unfortunately, that gene seemed to skip over me. I was the B student in school whose middle name should have been “impatient,” and frequently tried to figure out how to get from A to Z without having to go through the other 24 letters.
Can you relate? If so, that’s OK. It doesn’t mean you won’t turn out OK. It just means you might have to work harder sometimes or come at things a different way. I’ve learned that in some projects, I pay (almost too much) attention to the details, while with other projects, I run along with a goal of getting to the end, missing things.
In some cases, it’s a good thing, but it can also be very dangerous. I wouldn’t make a good attorney, doctor or scientist. You would not want me as your heart surgeon. But I do acknowledge I have some traits that have made me successful. Now I work on recognizing my weaknesses and spending some time working on them.
I’ve hired a lot of salespeople in my career, and the ones who succeeded the most were an interesting breed. They were obsessive with certain things, but not with others (very much like me). They hated weekly reports and didn’t do everything I asked, but would make sales with what appeared to be no effort. Here’s what’s interesting: In their approach to sales, they were actually extremely detail-oriented and methodical in their approach, but they didn’t show it the way we as leaders might want. It’s interesting. And when they would work on a sale, you shouldn’t bother them. Stay away and let them do their thing. Don’t distract them. Why? Because they’re putting their heart and soul into their task.
You may be super-detailed in everything you do and have a doctorate in a specific field, or you may be like me and pay a lot of attention to certain things in your own way while avoiding details in others. But I know this for certain: Those who are genuinely successful put everything they have into their trade. And while they may avoid a laser-beam focus on certain things, they are indeed experts at others.
The definition of a savant is one who has significant disabilities but demonstrates certain abilities far in excess of average. Aren’t we all a little savant-ish? I know I am. My wife would undoubtedly joke with you that I have some severe mental issues, but in other areas I exceed well beyond others. Some of the most wellaccomplished people in history are similar.
This week, try to acknowledge where you excel and work on trying a bit harder in other areas. Notice where you put your heart and soul into a task while shrugging off others. You’ll learn where you need to grow.
Terry Petzold is the managing director at ZRG Partners, LLC, a board member at the Warrior Network, and a board member at North Louisiana Economic Partnership.