Let’s all agree for a minute that we’ll never be the best in the world at anything. The odds are too stacked against us. This is certainly true for professional sports, or music, or art, but it’s also true for the individual skills that make up our professional strengths. I’ll never be the world’s best public speaker, the shrewdest investor, or an expert programmer. The amount of effort required to be the best is overwhelming.
But the amount of work required to be better than most is not so intimidating. With a little patience, desire, and practice, any of us could become relatively good at making sales pitches, giving professional training classes, writing proposals, or graphic design.
If you’re better than most people at one thing, you’re on your way to success, but still in good company. Lots of people are good at graphic design. If you’re better than average at two things, you stand out a little more. But if you have three or more top 25% skills, you’re approaching rare air. The more top 25% skills you can combine, the more valuable and rare you become. The key is to find a way to use them together.
The beginning of your career is the perfect time to consider which skills to develop. Written and/or verbal communication are must-haves. Professional speakers and good writers stand out in any organization. Creative problem solvers are always in demand. (And there are many different ways to enhance your problem solving acumen that are actually quite easy but not widely studied.) You can work on being level-headed, on staying calm during stressful times, until you’re known for keeping cool under pressure.
There are countless combinations, each as valuable as the next. By spending dedicated time improving three or four core skills, you can easily make yourself more unique and valuable.