One of the things that many people tend to accept is the goal of becoming “above average.”
Being above average is safe. Being the best puts the spotlight on you, requires more bravery and often more self-honesty.
For those who have an unfounded fear of standing out – being above average allows them to feel good about themselves without having to be the best. Being above average is secure. Being great requires that you challenge yourself, which is hard. Being mediocre and settling is easier.
The problem with being above average, though, is that it becomes a pair of padded handcuffs that hold you back and prevent you from becoming the genius you could be. Just like the leech that numbs you while it sucks your blood, being above average allows you to feel just fine with yourself while your true potential is drained right out of you.
“Being above average is to success what being above ground is to living.”
Be just average. Hell, be below average; at least that hurts enough that most people react to the pain and try to improve. Being above average is that dangerous middle ground that isn’t as painful as below average but not as hard and scary as being the best either. Its siren call can actually be very strong for a lot of people, and once you’re there you can become so hypnotized that you lose all interest in anything else.
The most successful people among us don’t accept mediocrity. They don’t accept learned helplessness. They don’t accept that they are flawed. They refuse to accept being just another runner in the race, and if they can’t be the best, then they change races and find one where they can be. They seek out environments where their talents can make them the best, not just above average.
If you can’t be the best in what you do—get the hell out!
Do what Seth Godin talks about in his book, The Dip. Seth’s advice: “Quit for all the right reasons.” Don’t waste your potential genius . Don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve. Don’t settle for being anything other than a genius at what you do.
Last month I was interviewed by Michael Beck, host and founder of the Self Improvement Summit. During the interview, I gave several case studies that involved entrepreneurs who used their natural talents to succeed. That’s when I realized that I haven’t given entrepreneurs their fair share of success stories as 5th Level Genius, nor have I emphasized the amazing revolution that occurs when an entrepreneur becomes self-aware of his natural talents and uses them authentically. Since entrepreneurs are some of the most flexible businessmen when it comes to being able to arrange their lives and work values as they see fit, it allows for the greatest dynamic changes I have seen.
Many of the top entrepreneurs I have interviewed in “What’s Your Genius” describe their careers as to what they are great at and what they are not, with such startling accuracy, that it leaves little doubt as to the effectiveness of authenticity. Tony Robbins, Dan Lyons, Marshall Goldsmith and others have contributed their own profiles for study within the pages of the book. While What’s Your Genius prescribes to the notion of your own best way, it is essential to see those famous entrepreneurs that have gone before us to know what is possible and what blind spots to be aware of on our journey. The characteristics of an entrepreneur that most resembles your patterns can be a valuable asset in finding your personal path.
Listen to the Teleseminar below to discover your own best way, and don’t forget to Just Do You!
Self-Improvement Summit 2010
Michael Beck interviews Jay Niblick about Success, Peak performance, natural talents, authenticity and the new book, What’s Your Genius? duration: 58:39 min.
Today, Gretchen Dougherty is one of the top sales people in her company, but this wasn’t always the case. Her company sells home security systems, and Gretchen’s job as an inside sales agent is to prospect over the phone to schedule home visits where a field sales representative gives a security consultation (otherwise known to you and me as a sales pitch). She spends her days sitting in a cubicle dialing out to homeowners trying to get them to schedule a home evaluation. Gretchen gets paid a sales commission for every security system that is sold as a result of appointments she sched-ules.
When she first took the job, she was taught that sales is a num-bers game. Management told her that she had to make a specific number of outbound calls every day in order to beat the odds. The best sales people in the company made approximately ninety to 100 phone calls per day and ended up scheduling three to five field appointments, out of which one would normally sign a contract. Management really stressed to her the importance of making a high volume of calls. Each sales person even had a daily call quota.
The problem is that Gretchen had a very different talent set than most of the other sales people. Unlike the majority of them, she had a very high natural talent for empathy. It was this empathy that actually got in her way, because while other sales people would spend no more than a few minutes trying to push for an ap-pointment, Gretchen found herself talking to people for five, ten, even fifteen minutes or more. She knew she had to generate a high volume of calls, so she was constantly turning left and trying to fix herself by suppressing her natural empathy and not connecting too much with the person on the other end of the phone.
When she did this, she was not being true to who she was. She was awkward and preoccupied with watching the all-holy clock that sat next to her computer. The more she tried to ignore her natural tendencies and think differently, so she could follow the script and stick to a time limit, the more awkward and ineffective she became.
Gretchen was in trouble. She wasn’t performing well at all, and the top question on her management’s mind was whether she would quit before they fired her. She was definitely ready to quit when I first met her.
After I spoke with Gretchen, it became clear right away that the issue seemed to be a poor fit between her natural talents and her role. Because of this, I gave her a battery of assessments to help understand what her true talents were and how well they were aligned with her existing role. One of these assessments was the Attribute Index that we used in the Genius Project.
The moment I saw the results, it was obvious to me what the problem was, and Gretchen confirmed. Her extremely high empa-thy was causing her to want to connect with people too much, at least too much to allow her to meet her daily call quota. The rest of the sales people in the company didn’t have anywhere near Gretchen’s level of empathy. Getting on and off the phone as quickly as possible wasn’t a problem for them, but it was proving to be a big problem for Gretchen. She felt bad about talking at peo-ple instead of talking with them. The result was that Gretchen was trying to be something she wasn’t, and it was negatively affecting her performance in a big way.
Luckily, her company was pretty open-minded about how to fix the problem. They had spent a lot of money training Gretchen, and given that they were already suffering from a high human turnover rate, they gave me the latitude I needed to attempt to correct the problem.
What did I do? I simply told Gretchen to turn right and figure out how to be true to who she was. Once she opened up to the possibility that she could change the way she worked instead of the way she naturally thought, she was able to make adjustments to how she went about achieving her goals.
I asked her how she would do the job if she were in charge. I said, “Just do you.” As a result, Gretchen turned right and sought to change her role—not herself. She decided she would not put any time limit on the calls she made to prospects. She got rid of the clock on her desk and decided that she would not have a daily call quota, or any call quota for that matter—just a single quota for how many appointments she scheduled.
When she did this a very interesting thing happened. Gretchen, instead of suppressing her natural tendencies, started letting them guide her. She spent much more time with those she talked with. She got to know them and to understand their needs much better. She once even told me about a call where she learned about the caller’s teenage daughter, what her name was, how often she was home alone, where she was going to college, and even what she was majoring in. This was typical of the level of communication Gretchen was having with the people she talked with. She was really connecting with these people.
Instead of trying to force herself to ignore her empathy, Gretchen was now using that natural talent to connect with people on a much deeper level than the rest of the sales reps were. Doing so meant that she spent a lot more time with each person, and made only as few as twenty to twenty-five calls per day. But doing so also meant that she was establishing relationships with people; rela-tionships that were returning results. Despite the fact that Gretchen was making less than 20% of the calls the other reps were, she still averaged to book three to five appointments each day. Even better than that, instead of the company average of one signed contract for every five appointments, Gretchen was averaging two signed con-tracts for every five appointments.
Pretty soon, the field sales people were fighting to see who would get to call on the appointments that Gretchen had scheduled, because they knew their odds of making a sale were a lot better.
The lesson here is that by turning left and becoming inauthentic Gretchen was hurting her performance. When she started turning right, though, and became authentic, not only did her performance reach the expected levels, but actually exceeded them. When she was inauthentic, she was no more satisfied with her job than the job was satisfied with her. Now that she is authentic, she views her job as a vehicle for her passion for meeting and helping people, and now she is as satisfied with the job as it is with her.
If you ask the field sales representatives whom they want booking their appointments, they will tell you, “Gretchen, man, she is a genius at finding people who buy.”
Here’s a sneak peek inside the book, and the Foreword by Anthony Robbins:
During these changing and turbulent times, what is the single biggest factor in shaping the quality of our lives? What affects our ability to not only survive, but also thrive? What are the forces that determine whether we face failure or sustain success? The truth is these are uncertain times—in 2008, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 43% more people laid off than in 2007. This year, major companies such as IBM have fired 1400 people in the month of January alone. The times are uncertain, but while we have minimum control in being able to change the external environment, we do have maximum power in being able to shift our internal environment—being able to control not only what a situation means to us, but also how we show up. To get the best out of the worst times, we need to demand the best from ourselves—we need to perform at our peak level.
After having the privilege of spending thirty years serving over three million people from over 100 different countries, I know that there are certain patterns that create success and other patterns that breed failure. I’ve had the pleasure of working with elite, peak performers in business, politics, entertainment and sports such as legendary basketball Coach John Wooden, who won a record ten NCAA championships in twelve years. Coach Wooden’s philosophy was simple: “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” To him, it was not about winning or losing, it was about getting the best out of his players’ ability, allowing them to focus on their strengths and not their weaknesses. If we adopted a similar focus, we would not only set ourselves up to win in these trying times, but we would be fulfilled in the process. I believe that success without fulfillment is failure.
In fact, the definition of success is being able to achieve your goals and be fulfilled in the process. The secret to achieving and being fulfilled is having the courage to go beyond the skills you’ve learned and discover the gifts that you were born to give and to employ them daily. So many people settle and adapt to the work or career they’ve chosen or fallen into. They might even say, “Well, obviously I’ve got to enjoy my work. I picked it, didn’t I?” While that may be true, the question is: Did you pick it consciously, knowing
what your gifts are, knowing what’s inside of you that is most powerful? Again, I’m not referring to the part of you that’s been educated and trained. We can all train ourselves to do just about anything. This is about the part of you that you were born to use, to contribute, and to serve at a higher level.
Most people pick their work or career unconsciously, based upon conditioning, proximity or expectation—based on reasons that were not completely their own. When that happens, it increases the gap between achieving a depth of success and living a life of meaning and “just getting by.” As long as that gap remains—as long as they’re trying to do something they’re not thrilled about or something that isn’t part of their nature—they might achieve in the short-term, but they will never succeed in the long-term.
It’s essential for today’s employers to recognize and cultivate their employees’ talents and gifts if they want to retain them and remain viable in the marketplace. And it’s critical for employees to understand what really motivates them in order to be able to communicate these needs to their employers and generate opportunities for win-win situations—where they are committed to peak performance and feel
like there’s principle and enjoyment in what they do; where business owners and managers are nurturing and efficiently supporting their staff; and companies are reaping the benefits of cooperation and optimal productivity.
Jay Niblick’s in-depth, comprehensive study What’s Your Genius represents a truly ground-breaking approach toward innovating how we think of our careers, our life’s purpose, and ourselves. Niblick has taken on the tremendous responsibility of transforming cultural attitudes about work and achievement that have been in place for more than a century, while simplifying the exhaustive academic legwork that legitimizes the importance of individual authenticity. He introduces easily-implementable strategies for not only attaining that sense of real accomplishment we all long for in life, but also a truly profound understanding of who we really are at our core. With these imperative components in place, finding fulfillment in what we do does not have to be reserved for the lucky few. With a few minor (and in some cases, major) adjustments to our perceptions, what people want most out of themselves and this key aspect of life is readily available.
Whether you’re pursuing your dreams as an entrepreneur or exploring other career options, being authentic and actively appreciating what you’re really capable of is going to be one of the most important forms of social and economic capital in the coming years. It will make the difference between mediocrity and excellence; the difference between “just getting by” and really thriving instead. It’s the psychological and emotional edge that will help us create better lives not only for ourselves, but also for everyone that we influence in our global community. With increasing economic pressure, now more than ever, is the time to extract the best out of yourself and to use that gift to touch the lives of others.
Jay Niblick’s What’s Your Genius? will give you the tools to utilize your strengths to reap higher returns and the success that, as Coach Wooden puts it, “comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
~ Anthony Robbins
Here’s the latest in what others are saying about What’s Your Genius. I’m also very excited to announce that it comes back from interior design today and will be off to the printer tomorrow for a speedy return and you!
“What’s Your Genius will help you discover your natural talents and reach your peak level of performance—effortlessly! Jay does a great job of helping you learn the secrets of who you are and how you think, so you can create your own private revolution and unleash your greatest potential
today. Get ready to evolve.”
~ Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, Author of New York Times
Bestselling, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.
“Jay Niblick’s What’s Your Genius is an absolute must read. This book is more than an inspirational guide; it will transform the way you perceive abilities and limitations, revealing an entirely new scope of life options which are in complete alignment with your core motivations. Simply put, if you read one personal development book this year this should be it.”
~ Dr. Ivan Misner, New York Times Bestselling
Author and Founder of BNI
“I figured that if Jay was good enough to advise Tony Robbins, he was good enough for me, so I immediately dove in and began discovering the secrets to achieving my own private revolution. I found Jay’s work extremely revealing, insightful and most importantly effective. The lessons in What’s Your Genius have changed my life forever. Thanks Jay!”
~ Timothy A. McGinty, Co-author of wake up…Live The Life You Love
“This book is awesome—really awesome. Easily in the same league as The Five Patterns of Extraordinary Careers, and Covey’s 7 Habits. When it comes to your journey toward greater success and happiness, What’s Your Genius is a serious tailwind.”
~ Michael Lorelli, Former President PepsiCo & Pizza Hut
“What’s Your Genius gives you permission to be confident in your God-given talents. Based on years of insightful research, there is wisdom in this book that will help you to recognize the value of your talents and give you confidence to employ them fully. Positive thinking and purposeful action are at the core of its universal message, and it is a book that will open your mind and enlarge your spirit.”
~ Garry Titterton, Author of Brand Storming
“As a coach and a person that is passionate about assisting people to reach their highest potential and play their biggest game in life, I found What’s Your Genius to provide a brilliant and insightful view on determining what drives us. With some great practical tools based firmly in science this book provides a solid method on how to identify where our Genius resides and unleash it.”
~ Gavin Friedman, Corporate & Executive Coach
“What’s Your Genius is the logical and practical application in determining your natural talents. The first step is understanding what your strengths are and then focusing on those strengths in what you do in your life. Jay definitely helps you learn to stop following the crowd and become authentic!”
~ Heather Williamson PhD., Professor of Social Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University
“What’s Your Genius is a fascinating journey into the real reasons behind individual peak performance. Jay shares some powerful and non-conventional lessons learned from some of the most successful people in the world. If you aren’t sure where to go, how to get there or are feeling blocked in getting to the next level of performance—you need this book.”
~ Dr. Tony Alessandra, Author of Secrets of Ten Great Geniuses
“What’s Your Genius works on a number of levels. Whether it is through Jay’s anecdotes, or the comments from other management luminaries or the wealth of research to support Jay’s proposition—where the book stands out is in the way that you are taken on the path to enlightenment and self-development. This is not just a book; it is a real process that engages you for the longer term. For the organizations of the world the implications are that they will need to realign their traditional views of people and performance if they are to tap into the genius of their employees.”
~ Graham Hackett, Senior Manager, BAE Systems UK
Let’s face it. Whether you are looking to become the next VP of Marketing at Thecompany.com, or the newest programmer at your dream computer company, interviewing for any new job pretty much stinks. Sure, it can be an exciting time, but the actual interview itself is stressful, awkward and usually something you would rather just avoid.
We all approach looking for work with a weird mix of excitement and anxiety. It is a challenge that leaves us feeling not quite in control of the result. Why, because we’re not in control because ultimately the decision to hire is in the hands of others. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have some control as well.
There are certain truths about every interview. First, you will always be the novice in an interview. The person doing the interview may come off as a “good old boy” who isn’t very good at these “interview things”, but rest assured they know more about how to interview you than you do about how to be interviewed.
Second, recent research on over 40,000 workers reveals that you are naturally at a disadvantage in the interview process. According to a 2004-2005 study, the average person is only 59% accurate at assessing their own strengths and weaknesses but is 89% accurate when it comes to understanding the abilities of others.
Finally, a recent poll of 1,300 hiring managers showed that level or preparation for the actual interview is now just as significant as are your history, resume and experience combined. What constitutes preparation, however, has changed. It doesn’t just mean a clean resume and well pressed suit anymore. As companies become more sophisticated in their hiring techniques more emphasis is being placed on qualifying a candidate’s “soft skills” (e.g., thinking styles, natural talents, attitudes, etc.). If today’s employers are paying more attention to your soft skills, you should be too.
Behavioral Interviewing 101
One of those important soft skills is understanding how to communicate with the interviewer. How you present information may completely resonate with certain styles and completely alienate others. The trick is to be able to understand which kind of behavioral style your interviewer has, then tailor your communications to that style.
According to one of the most accepted behavioral theory in the world, created by Harvard researcher William Marston, there are four primary types of behavior: Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness and Compliance. This DISC Behavioral theory argues that each of us has all four of these dimensions, but we also each develop our own unique preference for using them – our own behavioral style.
Here’s a short course on how to identify the behavioral style of your interviewer and how that affects your interview with them.
For the full story go here (Behavioral Interviewing Guide Genius File #6)
Question for you. If three frogs are sitting on a log and one decides to jump off, how many frogs are left? The answer is; three, because deciding to jump and actually jumping are two totally different things. From time to time I run into a client who has taken the first step (in their head) of deciding to change their lives in one way or another, but one of the hardest things for some people to do is actually take real action. It’s one thing to decide to do something, but quite another to actually do it.
In order to unleash your Genius you must take action. You must leave your comfort zone and you must change your role to make it more authentic to your natural talents.
Tom Peters has a great quote that goes something like, “There’s a great strategic plan – it’s called DO SOMETHING.”
Go do something about becoming more authentic!
Previously I’ve talked a lot about the negative effects of a workplace filled with outdated beliefs about how best to manage people. My argument has been that a great deal of these beliefs are legacies left over from the industrial era, where most people were manual workers, not the knowledge workers we find occupying most offices today.
There is a whole host of problems associated with such outdated management beliefs, the most immediate being decreased performance and job satisfaction. The more disconcerting part of being mismanaged like this, however, is what it does to the individual beyond just limiting performance.
The stress caused by these workplaces starts with a lack of performance and on top of that you can add: self-doubt, job insecurity, uncertainty, lack of faith in leadership and reduced passion and enjoyment for the work.
Overall, being mismanaged is stressful, and I don’t mean healthy stress (eustress). I mean harmful stress (distress). And when you look at what modern medicine is just now learning about the impact of stress on the human body (let alone psyche), the effects are startling. Go here to read the whole starling truth (Genius file #8)
There exists a myth about strengths and weaknesses, one which states that we all naturally possess them. In reality, we don’t. What we do possess are natural talents and non-talents, but these are not the same as strengths and weaknesses.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those that thinks it is too negative to tell someone they have a weakness and wants to call it “an opportunity for development”. I actually hate this term because more often than not it supports the incorrect view that I can fix a weakness by developing a new natural talent. If one of my clients is suffering from a weakness I tell them so straight up, but the key is that this weakness isn’t natural, it is manufactured.
Weaknesses and strengths don’t exist naturally, only talents and non-talents exist naturally. It is only when I rely on a non-talent that I create a weakness for myself. Likewise, if I don’t rely on my talents, they never become strengths.
In other words, you are ultimately in control of your strengths and weaknesses. You may be born with talents and non-talents, but you are in charge of whether or not those talents and non-talents are used to become strengths or weaknesses. When you allow your success to depend on your talents, you create strengths. When you allow your success to depend on your non-talents, you create weaknesses.
To read the full story, download Genius File #5 here (the Genius Files)
The workbook is up. I don’t quite have all the tools and features on there just yet, but the free self-assessment is there so check it out. The Problem Self-Assessment is designed to help you evaluate your level of success and happiness in life and determine key areas where you may want to make some change. Just go here to create your own free account, then take the assessment (the problem self-assessment).