Do you want to know (at least) one of the best kept “secrets” of success? It’s focusing on your areas of brilliance. That means concentrating your time and efforts mainly on those skills and abilities that are your strongest, and that are most likely to put money in your pocket.
Lest you think that I made this concept up, it’s actually from Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt, success coaches and authors of The Power of Focus: What the World’s Greatest Achievers Know about The Secret of Financial Freedom and Success.
I strongly recommend this book for anyone who’s looking to get from Here to There in their lives. You’re probably already well aware that you won’t get there doing what you’ve always done. That was a revelation for me, and I hope it will be for you as well.
Here’s what the book opened my eyes to…
The Old Standby “Working Harder” Won’t Move You Forward
Back in 1973 a guy named Joe Karbo wrote a book with the enticing title The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches. The book is considered a classic in the get-rich-quick genre. Yet what sold the book was Karbo’s incredibly brilliant marketing pitch: Most people are too busy making a living to earn any money.
That pitch resonates with millions of people. It was sufficiently shocking/convincing to make it perhaps the single best marketing pitch of all time. The book sold millions of copies, despite the fact that I personally didn’t think it was a work of art.
Still, that marketing pitch captures something life-changing.
Back when we were in school we were always being taught to work harder. That concept was advanced when we started working. Naturally, managers and bosses want everybody working harder. It certainly serves their interests. But it doesn’t allow you to focus on your areas of brilliance
How Many Rich Workers Do You Know?
The basic problem with working harder is that there are only so many hours in a day. That means that you can only get so much done – particularly within the systems that exist in most jobs. It’s also a path to exploitation. If you’re working harder than your coworkers, you will shoulder an increasing share of their work as well.
It smacks of a TV commercial a few years back in which an authoritarian, boss-like fellow leaned forward and growled, The reward for hard work…is more hard work.
The commercial was meant to be humorous, but it strikes a serious cord. And I’d say, a valid one.
The writers of The Power of Focus have a similar slant:
“Working harder and longer hours will not solve your dilemma…You must invest most of your time every week doing what you do best, and let others do what they do best…Remember, your bottom line income is directly linked to the amount of time spent in your areas of brilliance.(Emphasis mine)”
In too many cases, at least the way in which harder work is applied, it just leads to more busyness. That will leave you with less time, more stress, and not much more money. More important, it’s unlikely that it will move you forward in any meaningful way. That’s the whole point that the authors are going for with this book.
The only way to move forward is to create and develop specializations – to focus on your areas of brilliance. Those should result not in more work, but in more income for the work that you do. That’s where focus comes into the picture.
How Focusing on Your Areas of Brilliance has a Multiplier Effect
Have you spent much time waiting for inspiration – you know, those ideas that will open up opportunity?
What I’ve found is that inspiration doesn’t come from hard work. Periodically you literally have to take a break from your normal activities and actively pursue inspiration. Most of us are afraid to afford ourselves that time. Instead, we busy ourselves filling the hours either with paying work, or leisure activities.
But inspiration actually feeds on itself – once you get it in motion. Spend some time coming up of one or two good ideas. What you’ll quickly find is that your brain becomes flooded with good ideas. If you can brainstorm – coming up with ideas in concert with one or more other people – the end result will be almost miraculous.
This is exactly what the writers pinpoint:
“Focus on those activities you do brilliantly, and from which you produce extraordinary results…Your brilliant activities give you energy, keep you excited and free you up to chase those new opportunities…When you focus most of your time and energy doing the things you are truly brilliant at, you eventually reap big rewards. This is a fundamental truth. And it’s critical to our future success.”
Make some time to think seriously about what it is that you’re truly good at. That’s even if it isn’t what you’re doing in your present occupation. It’s likely that result will lead you to places that your hardest work never could.
”It’s Not Hocus-Pocus, It’s All About Focus”
Right now you might be thinking I don’t have any areas of brilliance. Yes – you do.
As the writers point out, we all have areas of brilliance. They’re talents that we’ve employed both inside and outside of our careers that are especially productive for us. The book will help you to identify those abilities. Perhaps more important, it’ll help you discover those you might not know you have.
To do this, it takes what many might consider to be an unconventional path. The book is filled with concepts that will challenge conventional ideas on how to achieve success in either a career or business venture. But if you open your mind to the possibilities, there’s no telling where it can take you.
What the Power of Focus Did in My Own Life
I had to force myself into these concepts and mindsets. I can tell you from personal experience that it would not have been possible for me to become a blogger and a freelance blog writer without coming to that place. Think about it – how many people do you know who make their primary living blogging or freelance blog writing?
I seriously doubt that anyone does the kind of work that I do without first daring themselves to step out-of-the-box. My journey into this business literally started with a pen, a blank sheet of paper and an empty head. I had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life, so I just wrote down ideas.
I dared myself to write down what I thought my hidden talents were. But I also listed any type of business that I might be remotely interested in, as well as those I preferred to avoid.
It was a creative effort just to find my creativity. That’s the best way I can put it. And it only happened because I gave myself permission to do it.
The book shows you exactly how to do this. The second chapter of the book was the one that perhaps impressed me the most – “Focusing Strategy #2: It’s Not Hocus-Pocus, It’s All About Focus”.
In reading the book, have a pen handy and prepare to participate in the suggested exercises. What the authors do is attempt to have the reader document current experiences and thought processes, then contrast them with a completely different way of thinking.
The Mechanics of the Power of Focus and How it Produces More Income
Prioritizing is a critical part of the message:
“It’s vital that you effectively separate so-called urgent tasks from your most important priorities. Putting out fires all day long in your office is, as time management expert Harold Taylor says, ‘Giving in to the tyranny of the urgent.’ ”
“Most businesses get into trouble because they spend too much time on things they don’t know much about…ask yourself at regular intervals, ‘Is what I’m doing right now helping me to achieve my goals?’…Focus on the benefits and rewards of sticking to your priorities, and remind yourself of the negative consequences if you don’t…tackle your most important priorities immediately.”
The book helps you to identify those skills, talents, and tasks that are going to make the biggest contribution to the bottom line. For example, if creating or selling a product or service is the most financially productive thing to do, the recommendation will be that you avoid spending time on back office tasks, such as customer service and billing.
If you’re starting a business, and you have to be Jack-of-all-trades, that can be a tough balancing act. But the basic truth is that by focusing on your areas of brilliance, you’ll dramatically increase your income. At that point, you’ll be able to pay others to do the urgent tasks, while you focus on the most important ones.
They’re telling us that it’s OK to pursue our natural talents, or even that we may fail if we try to do otherwise. That’s not a message we get in our work-a-day lives, but perhaps it’s one we really need to hear when we’re in the throes of change anyway.
The Built-in Penalty for Not Pursing Your Areas of Brilliance
Most of us labor away in life, mostly unaware of the penalty that we pay for not focusing on our areas of brilliance.
“…people tend to struggle because they spend most of their time in jobs or businesses not suited to their strengths…It doesn’t work and it causes a lot of stress and frustration.”
By contrast, examples are provided of top performers, including athletes and celebrities, who have risen to the top of their careers. It isn’t from a stroke of luck as we often believe, but rather the routine effort and application in one’s area of greatest ability that separates elite performers from the crowd.
Top performers aren’t necessarily good at everything. Rather they reach the heights because they’re superb in one or two areas that set them apart (critical point!).
“…top performers spend very little time on their weaknesses…If you spend too much time working on your weaknesses, all you end up with is a lot of strong weaknesses!…It just keeps you average…(and you) major in minor things…Remember, your bottom line income is directly linked to the amount of time spent in our areas of brilliance. ”
This Book is Required Reading if You Want to Go from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
In addition to the many practical applications provided, the book also feeds the mind and spirit, restoring the hope and optimism of youth. Most of us lose that when we grow up, which has a way of stealing our joy. Life turns into a deadening routine, that turns our minds and activities toward temporary escape. But as routine and temporary escape become more frequent, we lose hope for a better future.
Now more than ever we need to believe in ourselves, that not only do we have capabilities, but that we also have talents which may not be obvious to us right now. It’s those talents that will enable us to break through to higher levels.
This incredible book is filled to the bindings with a litany of concepts that can cause an epiphany in the reader. If you’ve put your hopes and dreams on hold, or maybe abandoned them entirely, a book like this can get you back to thinking in a positive direction. I know it did that for me.
If your business or career has stalled, or you’re looking for a new direction, or of course, if you’re facing unemployment, the book offers a real chance at approaching your career from an entirely new and fresh direction.
Leaving the book aside, do you have any thoughts on the power of focus, or on focusing on your areas of brilliance? Have you allowed yourself to discover these in your life?