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In a previous post, “The 3 things you need to succeed: Part I-Passion,” I explained why you’ll be more successful if you do what you love. I also explained why that isn’t enough.

internet-marketing-what-should-you-do-skillThe second thing you need to succeed is skill. You need to do what you’re good at. In certain fields, this is obvious. Not everyone will be good at sports, art or music. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do those activities. Have fun and enjoy! Try to improve! But they might not be the best choice for you for a successful business–at least not until you get much better.

Everyone has certain skills and abilities:

  • Some skills and abilities come from your genes
  • Some skills and abilities come from your experience
  • Your genes and experience interact; for example, you can use experience to improve on — or damage — what you inherited

You need to find your skills and abilities. You’ve probably had the experience that some things come easier to you and other activities are more difficult. You’ve probably seen the same in others. What is easy for you could be harder for a friend.

On the other hand, maybe a friend finds some activity so easy, but you struggle with it. This can be frustrating!

Here’s an exercise for you

Write down major activities you’ve done in your life. Include not only activities you did in school and at work, but with family and friends. Try to come up with at least 25 activities. Here are some examples from my life:

  • Being in the 2nd-grade play (didn’t like it, wasn’t good at it)
  • My 5th-grade science fair project on the eye (liked it, but wasn’t especially good at it)
  • Riding horseback in high school (loved it, was OK at it)
  • Writing a 70-page paper on India in 10th grade (didn’t like it, wasn’t very good at it)
  • Writing an independent-study paper on 3 translations of the Bhagavad Gita in college (liked it, was pretty good at it; I got better at writing papers as I got older)
  • Learning how to use a computer for the first time (Lotus 1-2-3) in 1984 for a proposal (loved it and was good at it)
  • Wrote resumes for everyone I know (liked it and was good at it)

You get the idea. Writing down these activities is actually a fun and valuable project. It will help you learn a lot about what you should be doing with your life.

When you find activities that you love and that you’re good at, you’ve found your sweet spot. Try to find several of these.

In a future post, I’ll explain the 3rd component for your success — the market.

Meanwhile, did you do the exercise? What was your experience with it? How did you choose what business to do? Please leave a comment; your comment can help others!

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    7 replies to "The 3 things you need to succeed: Part II-Skill"

    • Cathy Severson

      Great suggestions. As a career counselor, I find identifying skills/abilities is one of the most difficult things for people. In school, we were taught to work on our weak areas by teachers and not to be a show-off by our peers. Most people who excel at something assume that everyone else is good at it also. I will have people write out all of the steps or processes involved in project or job. This also works well by looking at tasks on a resume. From there we’ll continue to break it down to the basic components. I love the way you identified both what you did well and enjoyed doing. YOu’re right, those are absolutely critical in finding success.

    • EllenFinkelstein

      Cathy, that’s a great point, that we’re often told to work on our weak points and not to brag, so we stop thinking about what we’re good at. Your process sounds really valuable! The 3rd component will be in an upcoming post.

    • Renee

      Ellen, I smiled when I read your list of activities and whether you liked & were good at them. I can’t imagine any 10th grader enjoying the process of writing a 70 page paper (or being good at it).

      What a valuable and fun activity! I will use this with university students.

    • EllenFinkelstein

      Renee, that’s a great idea to use it with University students who are just at the point where they are trying to decide what to do. It’s much more personal and integrative than those job aptitude tests that are sometimes given. But, it’s good for people of any age who find themselves stuck in a job they don’t like or are looking to make a change and aren’t sure of the right direction.

    • Renata

      Thanks for sharing your post on mine Your eloquent article, by the way I like the practical instructions too, reminds me of one-liner:

      Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude (Zig Ziglar).

    • Ellen Finkelstein

      Renata, that’s a great quote! I guess I would say that it’s both, but that you shouldn’t let lack of aptitude stop you from doing what you love or from trying to improve your skills.

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