The winner of the 100m in the Olympics might also win the 200m, but will never be competitive in the 10K… or marathon …or rowing, or judo…
Gold medal athletes focus on their strengths and work to amplify their strengths. Usain Bolt doesn’t spend training time trying to improve his long distance capacity. He works on his start, on acceleration, on sprinting and finishing. He works on his strengths.
Recently I’ve felt a lot of pressure to spend time on areas that for me are weaknesses. I am writing this blog post mainly as a reminder to myself to stay strong, and accept these weaknesses. As a leader, I am responsable for making sure there are people and systems around me so that our business doesn’t have weaknesses… but it is not me that should spend time in areas where I am weak.
Dan Sullivan on working on your strengths
If you work throughout your life on improving your weaknesses, what you get are a lot of really strong weaknesses.
In order to do well in school, you need to get good grades in all the subjects. If you are good at sports when you are 12 or 15, you are probably the best at most of the sports you try.
I did well in school. It became painful for me to not get good grades… in any subject… even the ones that I really didn’t care about.
In business (and professional sports), you do well by being really good in one subject. In order to be excellent, you need to deliberately choose to be bad in almost everything else.
I am good at some things, I am not good at lots of things. A lot of the people around me are great at letting me know what I’m not doing so well… I have to stay mindful in order to not get drawn into trying to spend effort improving my weaknesses.
Stephen King says “I was lucky. I was born only good at one thing. Imagine how hard it is for people who are good at 2 things… or what is truly difficult… being good at most things.”(I paraphrase as I can’t currently find the original quote)
On returning from the summer holidays, iPhone Screen Time showed that I had used my phone for over 4 hours a day.
I hated this idea. That 4 full hours each day in some way were glued to a small screen. There is plenty of facetime calls and zoom calls… but a large portion has become the mindless scrolling down through instagram in particular.
I immediately deleted instagram, facebook and twitter from my phone. I left some of the other apps that were getting a lot of use: WhatsApp, Chrome, Linkedin, Chess.com, YouTube.
It has been a week without Instagram, facebook and twitter. I have not noticed missing anything. I got a couple of emails from instagram saying “you have 3 new messages” – but I can still see instagram when I am at my laptop so it is not that I have left completely.
Screen time this week is down 27% from last week (and down over 45% from my peak distraction week!)
It is still pretty high.
…and it is such a powerful distraction.
I pick up my phone to do 1 thing – make a call, send a message… and then spend 10-20 minutes doing a cycle through a couple of apps… I am addicted to deliberate distraction.
I tell myself that I have discipline. I have spent a lot of the last decade working on using time intentionally and effectively… and I am not able to cope with an iphone.
I worry for humanity.
If this distraction were making us kinder, better, more informed, more worldly-wise then this would be a gift. These distractions are not making me kinder… if anything more impatient and rude to those around me.
I have decided that I have a problem. I am addicted. I do not have intentional control over my usage of this device.
It has so many useful features that make my life better – the camera and video in my pocket, google maps is brilliant, facetime with family has been wonderful during Covid times, whatsapp allows coordination of groups and meetings… I will not be getting rid of the iphone.
I will be honest with myself and say that I am not in conscious control of my usage and I need to set limits for myself.
I don’t like admitting it, but I guess this is an addiction.
I don’t like the idea of being controlled by a little device.
“On many occasions I have seen presenters who thought that displaying a great memory was more important than punching home a well-crafted message.”
This is a guest post by my father Terry Neill. It is an edited version of 2 emails that I was cc'ed into recently.
Christmas 2019. We were in St Patrick’s cathedral (where Jonathan Swift was Dean) waiting for the start of the service.
A friend of one of our friends stopped by. I was introduced. He said “Oh I remember you for a terrific after dinner speech at the Strollers Club last year” , and then he said – with a laugh – “Even though it was all written out.”
I remembered the occasion. Speaking at the Strollers dinner was an important event for me. They invite excellent speakers. You have to be at your best – and funniest.
In every similar circumstance, I have a script. I know I will be nervous (it’s a source of energy). Opening and closing need the right words with the right cadence. Every punchline must have the words in exactly the right order. As the chair thanked me, he felt the need to tell the audience that “Terry had it all written out”. It was hard to know whether it was compliment or criticism. I suspected the latter.
For me, having the script means I can focus on ‘the theatre’ …. The pauses … the ‘chapter headings’ …… the changes of pace … the key repetitions …. The body language ..the big points of emphasis ….. the build up to punch lines …..
There is a prevailing belief amongst after-dinner speakers that using a script or notes of key points is ‘un-macho’. Often times, the memory failed and key messages got lost or forgotten – or stories fell flat as the punchline got mangled.
We have to get over the embarrassment of being prepared. With some few – irritating – exceptions, ‘winging it’ is always high risk. In my experience, every great speaker or presenter is always superbly prepared – and practised. Notes or full script are a matter of individual choice. I regard them as a measure of professionalism and as evidence of a commitment to excellence.
Golfers will know that Gary Player was/is one of the great sand bunker players. When he was asked why he seemed so lucky, he said “It’s amazing. The more I practice, the luckier I get”.
It often happens that the unplanned, informal moments provide the most powerful opportunities to deliver a message or make an impact. I know that a newly appointed CEO is generally not ready to listen – as they, usually over optimistically, take on the challenges of their new role. My role as a consultant required me to be well prepared to communicate, when that CEO was prepared to listen – which could be anytime.
In about 1997, I stepped into an elevator on a high floor of the Rhiga Royal hotel in New York. I recognised the one person in the elevator was Marvin Bower – the founder of McKinsey & Co. He said good morning. I said ‘good morning Mr Bower’. He was surprised … and asked me what I did …. ‘Accenture’ (in those days Andersen Consulting). He said tell me about your firm. I had the 3 lines and he said ‘have you time for a coffee’.
I was late for my meeting, but got to spend nearly an hour with one of the great icons of professional services/consulting. I hope that his opinion of Accenture rose as much as my opinion on him and McKinsey.
Take a moment to reflect on this question. I imagined myself in a room full of entrepreneurs, leaders, teachers… and wasn’t sure I could give a completely confident answer.
Now imagine that you have 20 years before you step into that room… What do you want to be able to say in 20 years that you have done the work to truly be a master, to have established a reputation for excellence, to have made a difference? Write that down.
This video is about the danger of being “good enough” in many things.
As the world grows ever more connected, and ever more complex – those that accumulate a whole collection of “good enough” skills will suffer. Those that can choose to be bad in many things, and dedicate time to truly excel in one or two areas will be those that flourish.
The danger: Our schools inculcate an attitude of good enough. The system of exams fosters an attitude of being good enough for the grade you want, not aiming for a level of ability far beyond the teacher’s ability to evaluate.
Rich Mulholland is an entrepreneur, author and keynote speaker. He tells powerful short little stories with impact though his videos. I had a chance to do a short interview with Rich during the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Global Leadership Conference in Frankfurt recently.
“What ails you and me has nothing to do with being sick or being wrong. What ails us is that we are living our lives as amateurs” Steven Pressfield
I have often reread the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. When you create real art, you will face “The Resistance“. Any creation of something important will bring up your inner resistance. If there is no resistance, then you are probably not creating something meaningful to you.
We must find the work that brings our lives meaning.
We must strive to make our work purposeful, truthful, and authentic, a pure offering to our Muse and fellow human beings.
We must wage a lifelong war with Resistance and accept that instant gratification is an oxymoron.
We must not speak of our work with false modesty or braggadocio.
We must not debase our work for short term gain nor elevate it above its rightful station to inflate our ego.
We must not covet the fruits of our work, or the fruits of others’ work.
We must respect others’ work and offer aid to fellow professional laborers.
We must accept that our work will never be perfect.
We must accept that our work will never be without merit.
We must accept that our work will never cease.
Where are you?
Have you found the work that brings meaning into your life?
It is the quality of your labour that counts, not the quality of your recognition for that labour. We can have pride in the quality of our labour, not in the fruits of our labour. Vincent VanGogh was a madman to his contemporaries, a genius only in hindsight. Fame has little correlation with creative effort.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.