“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up someplace else.” ~Yogi Berra.
Who are you and who do you want to be?
It is one of the central questions of life and, too often, we ignore it, push it to the side for a later day or refuse to spend enough time on it to reach a definitive conclusion. Thus, we wander and meander through life achieving only second best or even less, much less what we were designed for.
I was driving down the Rocky Mountain landscape on I-25 recently and I heard this question out of nowhere: “What kind of writer do you want to be?” That’s a big question. I’ve been writing for nearly 50 years about everything from sports to inspiration to training manuals to ghostwriting books and more.
But there’s something about focus, there’s something about digging down to find what’s at the center.
“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” ~Russian Proverb.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s Bill Gates, Napoleon Hill, Warren Buffet, Og Mandino, Tony Robbins or John Maxwell. They all say the same thing: You want to be successful, content, accomplished, happy or fulfilled? Become a specialist, find your niche, become the best you can be at the one thing that makes you unique.
I enjoy watching videos of up and coming artists — surprises, if you will — on shows like Britain’s Got Talent or America’s Got Talent. You know, the Susan Boyles, Paul Potts, Forte, etc. If you haven’t seen those videos, check ’em out.
In one of those videos a couple of years ago, a group called Collabro auditioned. They were supposedly a boy band who had been together for only a month. As the group members were introducing themselves, the judges rolled their eyes and waited for the flop to unfold. Only a few seconds into the audition, it became eye-opening clear this group was different. Different approach, different sound, different direction than your average boy band.
In fact, in the second audition, Simon Cowell made a quick observation to the group that may have been overlooked: “What I love about you guys is you’ve decided the kind of band you want to be, the kind of music you want to make which is really important.”
Collabro had identified early on the path they wanted to take and it was “really important”, according to one of the best minds in the industry.
You see, they could have become any band, singing a variety of music, becoming a jack-of-all-trades type band and yet never have realized the potential or “calling” in life. Could they have been successful if they had chosen another road? Could they have been set for life financially? Could they have been happy or content? Perhaps, but they knew what they wanted, they understood their gift and they zeroed in on it!
The problem is not going down the wrong road. It is becoming content and satisfied with the wrong road, rather than turning around and trying to find the right way.
Many roads run seemingly parallel, but they do not end up at the same destination. Finding the specific right road map is critical to your happiness, fulfillment, success and even your health!
For example, I had a great sales career. I always believed I could sell an Eskimo an air conditioner in Alaska. But selling the right product or service in the right organization is key. You must be passionate about the product, believe it makes a difference in people’s lives and be able to communicate to people how it will change their lives.
If you are a counselor, what type of counselor do you want to be? If you are a painter, do you want to paint houses, specialize in large buildings or paint pictures to go in those buildings? If you are an attorney, which area of law brings you the most fulfillment?
It works in every aspect of life. Every aspect. If you’re a mom, what do you want to be known for? If you’re a teacher, what brings you the most joy, elementary, junior high, college, special needs? If you’re volunteering, do you go home at night energized, or is something missing?
In other words, are you making a difference with your efforts and are you having the time of your life doing it?
Which brings me back to that day on I-25. What kind of writer do you want to be?
A few months ago, I was talking with one of my sons about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I have often said recently: “I’m 60 going on 35 and still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.”
I was listing some possibilities as we discussed options, and he said: “You can do that, but is that what you want to do. Is that what makes you come alive?”
Whoa! He turned my own words back on me, but it’s true and that’s hung with me.
It is the great Og Mandino who said: “It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world. The great man or woman is the one who never steps outside his or her specialty or foolishly dissipates his or her individuality.”
It’s great to be in the right ballpark with your desires, your plans, your dreams. But unless you’re sitting behind home plate or on the 50-yard-line, you don’t have the best seat in the house and you aren’t likely operating completely in your wheelhouse.
You may have to change seats and slightly alter your direction, but find that one thing that makes you come alive, diligently search for that specialty and search for that singular individuality that Collabro found early on.