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.
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.
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.
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.