Thursday, 27 August 2009

Playing Where You Play Best: Part 2

I did a blog post last week about the importance of being ruthless in how you manage your time - focusing on what you enjoy & are good at in your job. I got some good comments back on Twitter and a question from @Leggetter, 'how do you persuade people to let you do that?'

He’s right. Focusing on ‘playing where you play best’ might be easy for jugglers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Kevin Roberts who are at the peak of success. But what if you'd love to apply this mantra to your own working life, but don't know where to start? Here are a couple of tips that I've learnt through my own career.

First, it's about communicating your talents to your boss, co-workers or clients. In my 20’s I joined a company at a junior level with aspirations to rise to the management team (a goal I realised a few years later). But I had to be proactive to get noticed. I displayed my appetite for management wherever I could, producing a monthly report, coming up with ideas, being visible and vocal in team meetings. Of course, alongside that I had to deal with all the stuff I didn’t enjoy so much, but it gave me a new focus. Suddenly people realised I had bigger potential and the organisation started to take me more seriously. I was able to get promoted to take on new responsibilities and focus on what I was good at (and what I enjoyed). Then - and only then - I could start to leave some of those other tasks behind. Success didn't happen over night, but by showing what I could achieve I'd got the opportunity top focus on my passions.

Second, it's about knowing what you're not so good at and communicating that too. It's about being honest and saying 'that's not for me, it's not my strength'. That can be tough in a competitive environment where everyone is looking to prove themselves, but success is not about blindly taking on every task, project and responsibility that gets thrown at you. It's about sticking to your strengths and also knowing your limitations. That honesty shows vision – your boss would rather give a task to someone who was passionate about it than someone who was indifferent. And I do the same in my business - you have to know when to delegate or outsource tasks to suppliers or other team members who can do the job better, or when to turn opportunities or clients down because you know you won’t enjoy them that much.

So start by proving your talents, then be honest about what's not your strength, and then you can focus on playing where you play best.

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