Do all of the things.

I have always had multiple interests. 

I am a total nerd.

I enjoy learning new things.

I have a history of using a little bit of knowledge about a lot of different things to create new things.

I'll never be the best at one thing. I am okay with that. Other people, who also are not the best at one thing, are not. I am okay with that, too.

I majored in political science, was one course away from a minor in religion, have taken both the LSATs and the GMATs, was the CFO for a health care law firm, worked for 3 governors, dabbled in personal training, started a healthy living blog, ditched said blog to open a yoga studio and, most recently, have gotten my real estate license.

I pull from things I've learned in each of those areas of my life on a daily basis. I love connecting the dots.

I am inspired by people like Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert (the comic strip). Below is an excerpt from his interview with Tim Ferris in Tim's book, The Tools of Titans, about the power of the double/triple threat:

If you want an average successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:

1. Become the best at one specific thing.
2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don’t recommend anyone even try.

The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.

I always advise young people to become good public speakers (top 25%). Anyone can do it with practice. If you add that talent to any other, suddenly you’re the boss of the people who have only one skill. Or get a degree in business on top of your engineering degree, law degree, medical degree, science degree, or whatever. Suddenly you’re in charge, or maybe you’re starting your own company using your combined knowledge.

Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty goods” until no one else has your mix. I didn’t spend much time with the script supervisor, but it was obvious that her verbal/writing skills were in the top tier as well as her people skills. I’m guessing she also has a high attention to detail, and perhaps a few other skills in the mix. Probably none of those skills are best in the world, but together they make a strong package. Apparently she’s been in high demand for decades.

At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. And it could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That’s one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that’s the thing you’ll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%. If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking, develop that too.

It sounds like generic advice, but you’d be hard pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.

Don't let anyone pigeon hole you. Don't pigeon hole yourself. Don't feel like you have to follow just one course. Don't get me wrong, nobody likes a flake, but don't hold yourself back from becoming the best version of yourself by not learning new things just because you're scared of how it will look to other people. Or because maybe it doesn't make sense today. Be curious, explore things that interest you, challenge yourself, do all of the things, use what you learn from all of the things to create new things and add value to the world. We need you!


Brittany HoltzComment