I know when success is right around the corner. I’ve seen the shift in mindset from the people I consult.
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.
Once you become aware of your strengths and weaknesses (talents & non-talents) you must begin down that road of living authentically within that knowledge about yourself.
As always, if you have not taken the Genius Profile, you can do so here:
It begins by being mindful of this throughout your day and making small adjustments. Make it a daily habit of removing a non-talent and adding a talent to your to-do list each day.
As much as you can, you will begin to live your life more through your strengths. Living in an imperfect world however, there will always be times where you must perform tasks that fall outside of your natural talents. There are essentially 6 steps you can remind yourself of on a daily basis as you begin to make this a habit.
I have included the chart above that is meant to give you some simple rules to follow to help you maximize your talents and minimize your non-talents. This will help you decide when you need to slow down and think more consciously when you are dealing with a “weakness” (non-talent) or when you can let your subconscious mind rule the day when you are dealing with a strength (talent). I recommend you print this out as well and become very familiar with it, because it can provide you with some very simple insights into how to change your approach in what you do.
Do you settle for less than you can be? Some of you can honestly say yes to this and back up your answer through an increased joy in your quality of life or business success; Both financially and productively. Some of you are also saying yes but your “feel good” attitude towards your answer is short lived when you look at the details of how your life can truly be. It’s not about a “unicorns and rainbows” way of thinking or the benefits of positive thinking, although that can undoubtedly help. It’s about being so authentic to your natural talents and are delegating your non-talents so well that you refuse to accept anything less than the best.
The top performers, naturally, don’t settle. They are unreasonable in their expectations, regardless of what the culture says. They force life to work with them on their terms, not the other way around. They know what they are good at and what they like to do and they refuse to allow themselves to get into work or roles, or relationships for that matter, that force them to be unhappy being something they are not.
Just after college I went to work for Johnson and Johnson as a surgical sales representative. I was struggling as a sales person. It wasn’t that I wasn’t a good sales person, or that I wasn’t smart or hard working enough, but that the sales process I had been taught wasn’t a good fit for my natural drivers and talents. My motivations weren’t the same as most of the other sales reps. One day I was telling my sales manager, Rick Gilson, how unsatisfied I was with my own results. Rick told me something that day that seemed rather insignificant at the time, but later his words would take on a life of their own. Rick said, “You get what you accept.”
Anthony Robbins, in Awaken the Giant Within, recalls the point in his life when he stopped accepting what he got. “I remember feeling like my life didn’t matter, as if the events of the world were controlling me. I also remember the moment my life changed, the moment I finally said, ‘I’ve had it! I know I’m much more than I’m demonstrating mentally, emotionally and physically in my life.’ I made a decision in that moment which was to alter my life forever. I decided to change virtually ever aspect of my life. I decided I would never again settle for less than I could be.”
Not only is this a great example of someone who decided to stop accepting what he got, but it also shows the importance of realizing that you are actually in control. When Tony realized that he was in control of his success and destiny his belief switched from believing that the world controlled him, to believing that he controlled him. He realized he was in the driver’s seat.
I firmly believe that it is the individuals who must take ownership of this changing paradigm first and foremost. In today’s intellectual economy, companies need to realize that no one rides a bus anymore. Today, top performers don’t want a bus ticket, they want a company car – and they want to drive it themselves.
A significant part of achieving much higher performance levels is realizing that you don’t have to settle. We don’t live under a totalitarian regime. You are not forced into one role or one job for life. You are free to do whatever you want, wherever you want, and as more organizations become enlightened and start to realize that top performers want to lead their own lives, they too will allow you to control more of your own destiny within the company.
So, if you are unhappy with where you are in life, just remember – you get what you accept. As for me, Rick’s words will always play an important part in my life, but in some ways he probably regrets them because when I did take them to heart I realized that I was being inauthentic and once I decided to stop accepting that – I quit.
If you have any social relationships at all with business partners, customers or even coaching and consulting prospects, you have undoubtably noticed that there are some people that you are instantly more compatible with than others.
This is no great mystery within itself, but what you may not realize is that your DISC results can show you WHY you are not communicating as well as you could be.
For example, If you are a High D and you are talking to another High D, then odds are that you understand each other to a greater level than most people. Your mutual appreciation to move quickly and not ask a lot of questions, will not be seen as a threat but progress in the right direction.
However, If you are a High D and you are talking with a High S, these two styles can easily get off on the wrong foot. D can quickly become aggravated by what is perceived to be the High C’s overly detailed, risk-averse, pedantic approach. Conversely, the High C can become equally as frustrated by what is perceived to be the High D’s high-risk, under-planned, irresponsible level of “lack of
Read more about the different styles below and how you can learn to adapt appropriately to communicate with your prospects, partners and associates. If you just want to skip forward to the chart you can here, but I recommend you read the descriptions of each style interaction as well.
High D — High D
Two High D’s “get each other.” They share similar styles, so they share the same drive to move quickly, be decisive and compete. Therefore, they will appreciate each other’s need to move quickly, not ask a lot of questions and won’t view the other’s actions as overly aggressive or competitive. There is, however, the potential that both may butt heads trying to control the discussion.
High D — High I
The High D and the High I share many of the same tendencies, like urgency, risk-taking and a desire for change. They differ, however, in their approaches. Whereas the High D will likely seek to directly control a situation, the High I will seek to persuade rather than direct. Both will prefer high-level discussions; only the High I will prefer more discussion than the High D.
High D — High S
The High D and High S have only a moderate level of natural comfort with each other. Whereas the High D will prefer to move quickly, decisively and directly, the High S will counter with a desire for a slower pace, more considerate action and to be less direct (aggressive). The High D is likely to overpower the High S, causing tension and reducing the comfort further. While the High D may view the High S as fearful or timid, the High S may view the High D as pushy and controlling.
High D — High C
Having a naturally low level of comfort, these two styles can easily get off on the wrong foot. The High D can quickly become aggravated by what is perceived to be the High C’s overly detailed, risk-averse, pedantic approach. Conversely, the High C can become equally as frustrated by what is perceived to be the High D’s high-risk, under-planned, irresponsible level of “lack of thought.” Significant discomfort can appear between these two styles and both will need to adapt their approach in order to communicate effectively.
High I — High I
Sharing the same style, the two High I’s will enjoy an immediate bond and high levels of comfort in their communications. Both will seek to socialize, get to know one another and share thoughts and emotions. Likewise, both will prefer to stick to high-level discussions, choosing to skim over the details. While sharing like styles will benefit their comfort with each other, two High I’s can easily take each other off track with excessive socializing. Being fairly disorganized to begin with, two such people can exhaust what time they had available for business by talking about everything but the original objective.
High I — High S
Whereas both styles enjoy a people-focused orientation, and seek to connect rather than control or analyze, they only enjoy a moderate level of comfort; with the High S perceiving the High I as being overly “salesy,” or pushy. The High I, on the other hand, can misinterpret the lack of emotion from the High S as being standoffish or disinterested. These “risk aversion” versus “risk taking” differences can cause further tension.
High I — High C
These two styles will enjoy a low level of comfort at best in most cases. While the High I wants to be open, have fun, move quickly, stick to the big picture and avoid the minutiae, the High C prefers to remain closed, stay professional, move slowly, dig deep into the specifics and thrives on the details. The natural actions of both styles will tend to be the opposite of the other’s preference. While not as distant as the High D to
the High C, these two styles must adapt significantly to get along.
High S — High S
Like all other identical styles, two High S’s will enjoy a high level of comfort and communicate effectively with each other. Sharing the same style, they will each prefer to take it slow, not rock the boat, resist change, and create order, structure and security. Both will, however reinforce the potential for inaction in the other. Both could enable the other in their resistance to change, thus promoting too low a sense of urgency.
High S — High C
The High S and High C only enjoy a moderate level of comfort and compatibility. While they both share similar needs for structure, certainty and low-risk environments, the High S has a more open, people-orientated perspective whereas the High C is more closed and takes a task-oriented point of view. The High S prefers to respect others and is sincere in his support of people. The High C, however, is more focused on accuracy and the rules and can therefore run afoul of the High S’s respect for others — when those others break the rules of fall short of expectations.
High C — High C
Two High C’s tend to enjoy favorable compatibility with each other due to their sharing the same preferences
for order, correctness, details, accuracy and compliance with some procedure. Their needs to gather data and move slowly and cautiously only serve to improve their compatibility. Being very sensitive about their work, however, two High C’s could come into conflict if their beliefs differ . . . as neither is prone to admit mistakes or being wrong.
After spending several decades assessing the natural talents and authenticity of thousands of coaches, consultants, fortune 500 executives and thought leaders around the globe (as well as re-assessing my own humble abilities) I’ve come to notice an important factor that is easily overlooked when it comes to understanding how to live your life on your terms; Your intuition.
Intuition: “The knowledge from within; instinctive knowledge or feeling without the use of rational processes” The Oxford English Dictionary
Listening to the silent voice inside your head has received horrid portrayals in movies and books as the evil part of man’s mind that turns mild-mannered citizens into lunatic killers.
It’s no wonder that many of us have been conditioned to ignore that voice and only listen to outside signals as our measurement of effectiveness to the actions we take in life.
This could not be further from the truth to someone who is looking to perform at a higher level in life. The voices in your head have always been there speaking to you every day – you just haven’t realized it yet. They are seen on the surface as what is typically called intuition. You must learn to listen to it effectively if you are going to reach your own level of genius performance.
Intuition is not about extrasensory perception (ESP), a sixth sense or anything mystical or metaphysical. It is about data, gathered by your five senses, being recognized by your subconscious mind instead of your conscious mind.
Carl Jung noted, “Intuition does not denote something contrary to reason, but something outside of the province of reason.”
Intuition is about instinctive or subconscious awareness. When I talk with people about the difference between using their conscious and subconscious minds, I use the words reasoning and reacting. Reasoning is the result of logical, rational thought driven by the conscious mind. Reacting is the result of following the intuitive, subconscious mind. Since the subconscious mind misses nothing and is aware of everything around you, whenever you have a feeling about something you can’t explain, it is usually the case that you just can’t explain it based on what your conscious mind is aware of.
Intuition is that sudden flash of insight that comes out of nowhere. It’s that sense you get or decision you make without really thinking about it; it just comes to you. In reality, it doesn’t come out of nowhere. It comes from everything your subconscious mind is aware of. Instead of dismissing intuition as an unfounded and irrational
impulse, genius level success requires that you learn to accept and respect this voice, as it is your natural talents talking to you.
This is easier said than done, though. Just as we are taught not to trust our subconscious mind as much as our conscious one, we’re also taught to go with what we know, not what we feel.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”~ Albert Einstein
Of mammals, humans seem to be the only ones that actively discourage listening to intuition, but there is a lot of research that proves that intuition actually plays a larger role in decision-making than most conventional teaching would lead us to believe.
• Research into the decision-making of consumers shows that
as much as 95% of the decision to purchase something is subconscious (Harvard-Zaltman, 2003).
• Research on fire fighters showed that 80% of their decisions were subconscious and intuitive rather than logical and rational (Klein et al., 2003).
• Research on naval commanders showed that 95% of their decisions were based on intuition and “gut” rather than actually analyzing and comparing options (Klein et al., 1996).
• Yet another study of commercial airline crews in 1991 found that more than 95% of their decisions were what was termed “snap judgments,” which are those based on intuition, not rationale (Mosier, 1991).
• In a study of offshore oilfield managers, one study showed similarly that 90% of their decisions were not of the conscious, rational type, rather they were snap judgments and intuitive (Flin, 1996).
Great athletes are often quoted as saying, “If I have to think about it, it’s too late.” Even those people that most of us would assume must be very logical and rational turn out to be very much driven by their intuitions.
Physicist Albert Einstein’s genius for conceptual thinking was much more a feeling for him than a rationalization of the facts. So intuitive and pure was this talent, that he only vaguely understood it and rarely attempted to use words or logic to define it. In his work, Principles of Research, Einstein said, “There is no logical path to [truth]. Only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach it.”
This level of trust in intuition is not unusual for any of the modernday geniuses we studied either. Most had a very hard time attempting to explain their decisions in a literal sense. They just knew how they felt and what things they saw clearly or not. Their level of intuition and willingness to trust their gut is extreme.
Painter Pablo Picasso once told a friend, “I don’t know in advance what I am going to put on the canvas any more than I decide beforehand what colors I am going to use. Each time I undertake to paint a picture, I have a sensation of leaping into space. I never know whether I shall land on my feet.” What Picasso is saying here is that he followed his intuition (genius) wherever it led him. He is not trying to control it, he is just trusting his gut and going with the flow.
Poet Robert Frost spoke about his process for writing poetry as one of “carrying out some intention more felt than thought.”
Author Isabel Allende says of her books, “In a very organic way, books don’t happen in my mind, they happen somewhere in my belly. I don’t know what I am going to write about because it has not yet made the trip from belly to the mind.”
Learning to trust your intuition will be one of the more significant journeys you will take to reach the peak of your authenticity towards your natural talents and expectations in every aspect of your life.
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.
Twice the Performance, Half the Effort
Evening everyone, and greetings from Philadelphia, the soon to be site of the best World Series in the last 20 years by the way. I wanted to talk with you real quick about the myth of strengths and weaknesses. Over the last few video blogs I’ve been talking about a related topic in that our tendencies, programming and belief is that we are flawed. Whenever the job requires us to possess something that we don’t naturally possess, we automatically assume that we are broken and the thing that is flawed. I’ve talked about how this is the exact opposite of what the very best do.
Tonight I want to introduce you to a new concept. Most people believe that we possess natural strengths and weaknesses. I’d like you to turn that belief upside down for a minute if you will. We do not possess natural strengths and weaknesses! What we do possess are natural talents and non talents, and we manufacture our strengths and weaknesses. What I mean is, whenever we rely on our natural talents, we manufacture a strength. Until we try to use that natural talent, however, we only possess a potential strength. If you agree so far, then watch what happens when you reverse that. Whenever you rely on a non-talent, you also manufacture a weaknesses. Until you try and use that non-talent, you only possess a potential weakness. Get the difference?
I’m not afraid to tell my clients that they have a weakness. My clients pay me well to be honest with them, usually because they are CEO’s who no one else will say such thing to. What I’m saying is that since we manufacture our weaknesses (by allowing our success to depend on our non-talents) we are in control! It is you who controls what weaknesses you have, not your brain, not your boss and not the world. As long as you don’t allow your success to depend on your non-talents, you will not have any real weaknesses – only potential ones, and potential anything never hurt anyone.
The very best we studied understand this concept. They get it! They know that as long as they find roles, set goals and take actions that only rely on their natural talents – they will only manufacture strengths.
So, instead of trying to figure out how to change yourself to FIX your weaknesses, try changing the way you go about what you do so you don’t depend on your non-talents. Of course, this would be easier if you were completely aware of what those talents and non-talents were, so check out the Genius Profile workbook on this site. It’s completely free and there you’ll find some really cool tools – one of which is a free genius profile where you can develop the same level of self-awareness for your natural talents that the very best in the study possess. Then you can figure out how to make your success depend only on those.
So stop trying to fix weaknesses and just stop manufacturing them instead.
Jay Niblick, success coach, peak performance consultant and developer of the groundbreaking self-discovery book and coaching program at http://whatsyourgenius.com. Jay discusses how conventional wisdom tells us to fix ourselves instead of the role we play at home or work. Why fix what God put in you? You are born with natural talents and the sooner you become aware of them and live life authentically, the sooner you will see a higher level of success.
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.”