I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
I can’t program, code HTML by hand, design anything complicated in Photoshop, or write well in spanish. I have never led a team of programmers or had to choose a programming language. I don’t know accounting or finance or bookkeeping or human resources.
But I’ve kind of pulled it all off recently. (Operative words being “kind of”.)
I don’t know any of those skills in detail, but I have a good notion.
And if I don’t? I ask Google or Quora. (Genius, right?)
On the flipside, I can learn quickly, even if it means picking up industry jargon and lots of new terms for familiar concepts. I can do a decent job on Photoshop with some templates and examples. I can alter code in WordPress to make this blog better. I can talk to a team and get an executionable vision out of them.
I can somehow manage to pull it all off by pushing some much around and finding the right click.
Here’s my point:
What you don’t know, you can learn, sure. But what you *do* know will be differentiating for any team. Building your knowledge base is a wonderful thing to bring to any team — whether you are changing industries or just being promoted. Whatever you do for a living, any kind of skill or passion you have in your arsenal can turn a regular team into a brilliant one.
If you want to up the ante and show the world who’s boss, there are a few simple things you can do to turn the amp up on all kinds of skills.
1. Follow your curiosity.
There are activities we love as children, but somehow we let them fall to the wayside as we grow older. Call it society, call it growing up, call it whatever you’d like — but they are sparks of light that are within us, just waiting to turn into something huge.
You might be curious about the human body and how it works — or the world, for that matter. If you’re not the science type, you might be intrigued by people, how they interact, and what they feel. Or you may be so obsessed with sports and games that you just wish the rest of the world could quiet down and give you more time to play.
You can ignore those sparks of interest, or you can give them the attention they deserve. Being curious about something (better yet, intensely curious) gives us the give of what I call “grit” — the passion and dedication to dig deep in the trenches of knowledge and determination until you’ve nearly given everything you’ve got.
Curiosity is a powerful resource. If I were you, I wouldn’t waste it for a single second.
2. Dabble in multiple fields.
Knowledge doesn’t have to come from one single place. A lot of the resistance I hear out In Real Life is that not everyone finds their passion as easily as I have. Many people have made me out to feel like an anomaly, but I think they’re wrong.
My theory is that finding what you love to do has to do with a few factors, but one of the major factors is dabbling in many different areas, industries, knowledge camps, and more. Some of these will easily be crossed off the list, but others will serve as bridges and paths to what you truly love. For example, journalism nor web design were exactly my loves, but they brought me so much closer to the work that fulfills me today, here on this blog.
Beside finding our passion, people who know a ton about one thing are, well, kind of boring, aren’t they? Instead, why not find out about all sorts of things?
3. Look for creative outlets — say “yes!”
Ideas, knowledge and skills are like floating atoms wandering your mind. They’re floating around near each other, possibly even grazing at times — but they don’t always find each other very quickly. Sometimes, they take a while. And that’s totally okay.
The longer you spend dabbling in this field and that, the more likely you are to make some amazing connections between all of that amassed content right within our own mind. Be patient, though, because the atoms float and come together at their own will.
When the time is right, those idea atoms will come together like magnets, pulling their different perspectives into something completely new and creative. When you reach that “aha moment” of sorts, there’s no going back. Jump in and never look back.
Like I said, I may not be able to code or Photoshop on my own, but I know enough to help put a team together and carry out the vision. I may not know a lot of things business, but I know enough to get this small startup off the ground. (Cross your fingers for me.)
My approach of spreading out your knowledge isn’t what they teach in school, but try it out and let me know how it goes. It won’t let you down.