Friday, December 2, 2011

The One Thing You Need To Be Good At by Bob Bly

The other day, my oldest son expressed to me his concern that he would not be successful as an adult.

Why not? Because (in his mind) there are quite a number of things he isn't good at (math is at the top of the list).

I shared with him an encouraging success secret that I now pass on to you.

Namely, that to be extremely successful—in business, career, and wealth building—you don't have to be good at a lot of things.

In fact, you can attain an extremely high level of success even if you are really good at only one thing.

Warren Buffett made this point some years ago in a college lecture he gave with Bill Gates.

He said, in essence, that he (Buffett) is not very strong, not very fast, not very physical, not very athletic.

"If I was dropped in the middle of Africa, I'd be eaten by a lion within 2 minutes," he told the audience.

However, because he is good at only one thing—investing in the stock market—Buffett is an extremely wealthy man.

In my neighborhood, parents worry incessantly about whether their kids will be successful.

They fret over the kids' grades...piano lessons...sports...extra-curricular activities...even how many friends the kids have...summer name it.

My kids have it easy, because I don't worry about any of these things.

As long as they do their best, I don't obsess over their grades or what extra-curricular activities they should be doing but are not.

I tell them what I just told you...

Find the one thing in life that you love—that turns you on, that you are passionate about—and keep doing it.

The more you do it, the better you get at it.

With an early start and years of practice, your kids will get good at the one thing they love, become extremely competent, and therefore never have to worry about supporting themselves or being out of a job.

Of course, to ensure financial success, this "one thing"—the singular passion—must be something others will pay money for.

To paraphrase Aristotle, "Where your passions intersect with the needs of the public, therein lies your vocation."

Like Warren Buffett, I have very few talents and am not good at most things.

The list of what I am mediocre or bad at is very long indeed.

I'm incompetent at fixing things around the house, for example.

And I have a depth-perception problem that makes me lousy at tennis, baseball, or any sport where you have to hit a ball with a stick.

But I was always a voracious reader. I love books, reading, and writing. I began to write early—amateur comic books in elementary school, short stories in junior high school, articles for the papers in high school and college.

I spent so much time in college writing for our paper—it was a daily, and I became the features editor—that my writing began to improve significantly.

I realized writing was the one thing I love to do, have an aptitude for, and am good at.

And in copywriting, I found an area of writing where I could be paid handsomely for my efforts.

A mistake many people make is to continually work to improve themselves in areas where they are weak.

What you should do instead is to improve yourself in the one area where you are strongest.


Today we are a society of specialists.

When I was a kid, and the tiles in our bathroom began to crumble, my dad strapped on a tool belt and fixed them.

Today when my bathroom has a cracked tile, I call the tile guy—and pay him to fix it.

Success does not come from being a jack of all trades, and a master of none.

It comes from mastery of a skill or body of knowledge that others—an employer or customer—will pay you to share.

If I were to take a course in tiling, I would learn a little...but my abilities would be nothing compared to my tile guy, who has been doing this for 40 years.

I spend my time increasing my knowledge of marketing, which helps me make more money in my freelance copywriting and Internet marketing business.

Society admires the Renaissance man, the well-rounded individual.

But more often than not, it's the singularly focused individual—Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Tiger Woods—the person who is exceedingly good at just one thing—who reaps the greatest rewards.


Bob Bly is the author of "World's Best Copywriting Secrets" and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him "America's top copywriter".

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