JMT Certified

What can I be best in the world at?

Finding your niche in a busy world.

People don’t usually leave a job for the same reason they started it.  I’ve heard nurses say that they started their career in nursing because they wanted to care for people that were hurting, but they left because of all the bureaucracy and form filling; I’ve heard teachers say that they started their teaching career because they wanted to invest in young people and help them learn, and they left because of the relentless marking and crowd control.

One day when I looked back over my career I realised that it has gone through a number of seasons.  Each season has started with the inspiration to engage with a particular job or company and has ended with finding that the passion for that role had dissipated, or finding that some career choices along the way had resulted in a role that had become uninspiring.  On each occasion, the challenge and uncertainty of seeking a new job was initiated as much by the eagerness to move on from what had become stale as from the excitement of finding something new.

“Find out what you do well, and keep on doing it.”

~ John Maxwell

It seems that the days of “a job for life” have been left behind and the world has moved on from the one that our parents and grandparents inhabited.  However, it also seems that there is often something that runs through all of these seasons in life’s journey, sometimes called a through-line, that only emerges after a few seasons have come and gone.  I have come to understand that as identifying my Strength Zone.  This is a place where I feel that my strengths are in regular use, that I am adding value to the work I am engaged in, and I feel a sense of reward and achievement.

I suspect that I’m not alone in discovering that there are some parts of my life that have been spent pursuing something I am not really very good at.  Perhaps it’s something I would really like to perform well in. but the ability to rise above simply being mediocre is out of reach.  There are other areas that I have found I have been able to excel in that were quite unexpected.  

My journey into a sales career was thwarted at an early stage by a throw-away comment from a Sales Director that “you’ll never make it as salesman”, causing me to turn away from that possible career path at every opportunity that came my way.  My initial venture into a sales career that lasted some 20 years, however, was initiated by a colleague who insisted “you’d make a great salesman”, and resulted in financially my most successful season in my career to date.

“Organisations exist to make people’s strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”

~ Frances Hesselbein

John Maxwell suggests in is book entitled “Leadership Gold” that to find our strength zone we need to do four things:

For the first it can be really helpful to explore our personal history.  By the time I was halfway through high school I had been having music lessons, playing piano for 10 years and violin for 5, yet I was already performing to a higher standard on the violin than I ever would on the piano.  Although I never embarked on becoming a professional musician, I would have had more chance as a violinist than as a pianist.  

“People’s purpose in life is always connected to their giftedness.”

John Maxwell

Having spent many enjoyable years engaged as a sales engineer and sales manager, I discovered that it didn’t ever give me the rewards that I found from leading a training session, where people learned something new and put that into practice.  For a season I was both sales manager and training manager for a particular high-ticket product, and I discovered that it was actually so much more rewarding to deliver the training to a new client than to make the sale!

“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”

~ Jack Welch

These four headings turn out to be great advice for people wishing to start their own business too.  Most people when starting out would have a good answer for number 1 (what am I doing well), but don’t spend nearly enough time on number 2 – get specific can also be expressed as “Find your niche” and this needs to be able to answer the question “What can I be best in the world at?”.

For me, as a Leadership speaker, trainer and coach, I don’t think I’ll ever be “The best speaker on leadership in the world”, as I suspect that spot is already taken with many others in the queue before me.  However, I can aspire to be the “The best leadership speaker in North Staffordshire”, and find that I am in demand to speak, coach and train leaders in my area.  That’s a goal that could be in reach for me.  I could even aspire to be “The best speaker, coach and trainer on Inspirational Leadership” in a wider area to a wider audience; in narrowing the topic area I am able to broaden the geographic reach.

“Discover your uniqueness, then discipline yourself to develop it.”

~ Jim Sundberg

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.

Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.