It is funny how the closing of a year brings reflection on the past… and a fleeting commitment to fix all the things you weren't happy with.

Sure, getting rid of some destructive bad habits is a good thing. But is spending your time dwelling on your mistakes and trying to fix your non-talents (weaknesses) the way to go?

In "First, Break all the Rules…" by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, their research basically determined that you should focus on your talents and figure out ways to minimize the impact of your non-talents.

This is based on the science of the brain. Basically, your brain is wired a certain way based on genetics and early development. By the time you reach adulthood, it becomes very difficult to change the way your brain is wired and so you are predisposed to certain repeating ways of relating, behaviour or thinking that make you unique.

This differs from skills and knowledge which can be learned (within the boundaries of your talents).

Great managers know this and:

  • Select for talent (you can't teach them),
  • Define the Right Outcomes (and allow people to use their own talents to achieve them),
  • Focus on Strengths (and work around weaknesses),
  • Find the right fit (make sure the person is doing the right job).

But you can't rely on a great manager to do it for you, they can only help.

So what do you need to do?

You need to spend time in self-reflection on a regular basis and look at the things you do well and not so well. Be real. Is it because of your innate talents or are they just skills or knowledge you have picked up (or failed to pick up) along the way. If you fight this you may end up in roles where you will struggle and do poorly indefinitely and this is very stressful and draining for most people. You need to discover and develop your talents.

Sure, getting some varied experiences will help you discover your talents (most people do not even know what their talents are or at least not all of them). But the key is; once you know, you must keep developing those talents and find roles that do this. Of course passion makes talent truly blossom, but no amount of passion can fix a complete lack of talent (sorry). Michael Buble is not famous because he has a decent voice; he is famous because he has a natural talent for connecting with the audience (specifically the women).

This then becomes your career plan.

If you are an entrepreneur, you will be more successful doing things that build on your talents. Find partners and hire for talent to cover off the other things.

Seth Godin put it out there in his recent post. What are you going to do different to make the next 7 years remarkable (or at least more fun)?

But it is the post from two years ago that inspired this title… "why not be great? We have an obligation to do great things.

Again back to Marcus, any job or role done to excellence should be worthy of respect. We need to stop the insanity of climbing the corporate ladder to progress. The talents required for different rungs (developer, manager, leader, etc.) are vastly different. Success at the one does not guarantee success at another.

I've known this for some time. I firmly believe a great developer (technician, etc.) should be allowed to progress (i.e. make really good money) within the role without having to move into a management track or become an architect, or???

As a business owner, you need to create this path of excellence. After all, if you are a development shop, you want great developers and you want them to stick around as great developers; not become mediocre managers. If you run a call center or help desk, don't think of these jobs as entry level. They are critical to your success.

This applies to any position that impacts your customers or the success of your business.

As an individual you need to build on your talent and strive for greatness.

So that in a nutshell is my business and personal plan for 2010 to 2017.

Why not be great indeed!