Last December, I had a plumbing problem at my home, so I hired a plumber based on his reviews.
It turned out that the man was deft at other repair work too!
“Why don’t you advertise as a handyman?” I asked.
“Plumbers make more than a handyman,” he replied.
Back in mid-nineties, I finished my master’s degree in advanced manufacturing engineering and started looking for a job amid a recession.
I used to go to a local library to look for a job and soon found an interesting job posting.
A division of Emerson Electric in Lewistown, PA, was looking for a machinist with SmartCAM experience.
SmartCAM is a computer-aided manufacturing software. They had a pool of talented machinists, but no one knew how to use SmartCAM to generate G and M code for machining.
I contacted them and informed them that I am not a machinist, but I know SmartCAM.
My interview was to show my SmartCAM skill — not by talking about it.
I was given an ultrasound probe — used in the pregnancy tests — and asked to create a CAD(computer-aided design) model in ProEngineer and the toolpath using SmartCAM.
In full 6 hours, I created both, and because the company had no engineering positions opened, they hired me as a machinist.
A month later, I joined their engineering team as one of the staff engineers.
This was an epiphany moment in my life.
I learned that you are better off having expertise in a niche than to become a jack of all.
YOUR CAREER MISSION STATEMENT
Guy Kawasaki was a chief evangelist at Apple in the early 1980s.
He believes that a successful corporation has a short and inspiring mission statement.
Nike is a great example.
“Bringing innovation and inspiration to every athlete* in the world.”
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.
One of the best ways to get laser-sharp focus is to have your career statement as inspiring as Nike’s mission statement.
Your mission statement will make you think about your strengths and skills that make you tap dance to work.
It will make you introspect to find that one skill that you enjoy working on as if it is your hobby.
Once you decide on a skill that can lead to a dream career, take action by committing to master it daily!
Stanley Kubrick, a renowned filmmaker, advised aspiring filmmakers to get hold of a camera and some film and start making a movie of any kind.
If you feel that you don’t have time for that new skill due to other constraints, you are not passionate enough about your dream career.
Instead of watching a Netflix show or spending time on other hobbies, work on improving your skill of choice. Every single day!
Find just a few hours a day to work on your skill with constant dedication aimed at improving your skill daily.
The simple truth in life that I have experienced is that when you want something bad enough, you will make time for it.
SHARE KNOWLEDGE SELFLESSLY
The questions of the students are often the source of new research. They often ask profound questions that I’ve thought about at times and then given up on, so to speak, for a while. It wouldn’t do me any harm to think about them again and see if I can go any further now. The students may not be able to see the thing I want to answer, or the subtleties I want to think about, but they remind me of a problem by asking questions in the neighborhood of that problem. It’s not so easy to remind yourself of these things.
So I find that teaching and the students keep life going, and I would never accept any position in which somebody has invented a happy situation for me where I don’t have to teach. Never.
– Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman was an American physicist. He is known for his research in Quantum physics.
I adore him for his ability to teach complex concepts so that even a mere mortal can understand it. He was a fantastic teacher.
To stand out and build your reputation as an expert, you have to teach and share your knowledge selflessly to anyone interested in learning the skill of your choice.
This approach has a plethora of benefits for your dream career.
First, your blog becomes your living resume. Your knowledge becomes your testimonial of the level of expertise in your field. You will be perceived as the domain expert on the subject matter.
Second, you will benefit as much as your students when you teach. As Richard Feynman quoted, students ask questions and make you think of concepts and ideas that you have never explored before. That leads you to become better at what you do by learning a better way to do something or to invent a technique that takes your skill to the next level.
MOVE FROM “E” TO “P”
In his Wall Stree Journal bestseller book, The One Thing, Gary Keller points out the need to ask, “Are you doing this to simply do the best you can do, or are you doing it the best it can be done?”
“E” stands for the entrepreneurial approach — our natural approach to do it best we can do.
“P” stands for a purposeful approach. A purpose drives you to do it best it can be done.
Teaching and sharing knowledge transforms your skill driven by the purpose of excellence.
BECOME A GOOD WRITER
I believe that a good teacher has to be a better writer.
37signals is a small but very successful company. It generates revenue in millions with a handful of employees.
Their immense success is not a fluke as one of the founders, Jason Fried, has shared their vision of a great company in one of my favorite books, Rework.
If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. It doesn’t matter if that person is a marketer, salesperson, designer, programmer, or whatever; their writing skills will pay off.
That’s because being a good writer is about more than writing. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit.
Jason Fried, Rework
As a writer, you will forge a habit to think and articulate your ideas for your skill before you share it with others.
It will develop a different mindset — to focus on problems you can solve for others.
A dream career is a culmination of relentless effort towards mastery as a subject matter expert.
By doing so, you won’t have to find work. Work will find you so that you can tap dance to work every day.