Find Your Sweet Spot & Put Your Ladder Against the Right Wall
When I graduated college, I was all over the place. I had no idea what I wanted to do in my life and I couldn’t get a job to save my life in the graphic design field. I wanted to be great at everything which made me average at everything.
Prime example of being a jack-of-all-trades.
I wanted to be a tattoo artist, logo designer, co-run a t-shirt company, and a freelance graphic designer to name a few. Imagine each of these paths as a wall. I was placing a ladder against each one and attempting to climb them all at the same time to reach the top.
The problem was the ladder was against the wrong wall or walls in this scenario.
Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Successful People states, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”
I was going in the wrong place quickly—it was no wonder why I was so depressed with my current life situation. I felt like a failure as I watched people succeeding right away out of college and I didn’t understand why…..they had found their sweet spots in college because they were more focused than I was.
Everything changed when I stumbled across content related to the sweet spot in an Entreleadship Podcast episode hosted by Ken Coleman of Ramsey Solutions. I started working on my sweet spot which has now given me a vision to focus on each day.
It’s helped me place the ladder on the right wall and I’ve been enjoying the climb.
So what is this sweet spot?
What is the Sweet Spot?
The sweet spot can be defined several ways:
- The intersection of your greatest strength and passion
- The intersection of your greatest knowledge / skill with a strong passion point
- Being equally good at what you love to do
- Your vocation, life’s work or calling
They key point is that it is a balance of both your greatest strength and passion. It’s not one or the other.
Climbing the ladder of your greatest strength but lacking the enthusiasm for what you do can lead to burnout. On the flip side, pursuing something you love yet you like the skills will lead to little progression with major disappointment.
They go hand in hand.
Doing work you love and thrive in like no one else requires finding your sweet spot. It’s how you will own your content niche and grow an engaged audience around what you know and enjoy the best.
Hopefully, this is probably sounding pretty enticing by now, so how do you find both key areas?
It starts by performing a self-audit and flushing everything out the possibilities visually by hand. Begin by drawing two large overlapping circles that create a Venn Diagram. Label the left side strengths and the right side passions.
Finding Your Greatest Strength
Let’s go through a few action steps to determine what your greatest strength is.
Step 1: Write Down What You’re Best At
What comes so naturally to you that other people have a difficult time doing?
What knowledge or skill area do you thrive in?
The keyword here is thrive—this isn’t about what you’re average in.
Give yourself 10 minutes of distraction-free time and brain dump anything and everything you can think of into the left column. Having something visually to work from is the key.
For example, if I was to fill this out again; I’m pretty athletic and am good at basketball, but it’s definitely not my greatest asset so it wouldn’t go on the list.
Drawing on the other hand and the knowledge I’ve gained for lettering and illustrations would definitely make the list.
Step 2: Consult a Trusted Resource
Getting another person’s unbiased perspective is extremely helpful. They may summarize your strengths better than you can in your own words……trust me on this one.
My good friend Eric Friedensohn of Efdot Studio has a gift of articulating my thoughts way better than I could. I have a way of rambling to him what’s on my mind and he can clearly communicate and summarize it back to me. You need yourself an Eric.
You can ask several people this too and crowd source the information. List their answers along with yours in the left-hand column.
Step 3: Take a StrengthsFinder Test
If you don’t have that “aha” moment when cross-examining your answers with your resources, look into the book StrengthFinders 2.0.
I read this book in college and recently just discovered my copy from the leftover flood cleanup. This book is gold and purchasing it will give you an access code to take the strengths finder test online.
Once you’ve completed these steps and begin finding that top one or two strengths, transition into determining your greatest passion.
Finding Your Greatest Passion
I’m a self-help junkie but there is a lot of garbage out there. I used to get wrapped up in a lot of BS about chasing your passion and so on but the majority of it lacked context.
What if you pursue what you’re passionate about but you’re not very good at it? What if you’re wasting your time on a cheap thrill when it’s really putting you in a hole?
You need to have that strength area of knowledge or skill. The passion and drive are what will make that area successful.
Passion is the fuel that makes the engine go and without it, it’s hard to get good at something or be good enough to make an impact on other.
Pairing your passion point with a strength is a game changer and I want to show you it’s not rocket science.
Step 1: Write Down What You’re Enthusiastic About
In that second circle column labeled passions, set aside another 10-minute block of distraction free time. Write down what is it you truly love to do and what are you most enthusiastic about when you do it?
For me, I am my happiest when I’m creating or helping someone else see a glimpse of their potential.
Step 2: Don’t Over Think it
Everyone has something they love to do so finding something you’re passionate about should be relatively simple. You may think it’s the dumbest thing but there are people out there making a living off their passionate weird quirks such as Andy Schneider, aka the Chicken Whisperer. He’s become famous for his love of teaching how to raise backyard chickens.
If you love it, it’s worth taking a hard look at when determining your sweet spot. You just may be able to pair a strength with it and thrive.
Putting it All Together
By no means am I saying you will find your sweet spot immediately. It is a continuous process that can either grow wider or you can niche down deeper within.
If you’re wanting to begin building your personal brand, I’m just trying to encourage to have some direction and be more intentional about what kind of content you’ll be producing.
By combining your greatest strength and passion, you’ll not only be about to own a specific content niche, but you’ll get to enjoy what you’re best at too.
Don’t get caught up in the thinking and planning, pick a direction, dip your toes in the water and feel it out. What you pick doesn’t have to be what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. Your sweet spot can grow and evolve, but as long as you’re focused in a direction of strength and passion, your intuition will guide you.
Most people aren’t operating in their sweets spots because they don’t feel their life’s work doesn’t exist in the world. This is true but you have the ability and the resources to create your own work based around your sweet spot. I see people doing it and thriving in it every day like the Aaron Draplin, Andy J. Miller or Jessica Hische. These people aren’t quitting on their dreams, they are successful doing the work they love and are experts at.
If it can happen for them, it can happen for you. It will always boil down to how badly do you want it?
My challenge to you this week is to follow the steps which I’ve listed in this post along with the Venn Diagram to fill out. List out your greatest strengths and your greatest passion. Have an idea of what direction you could go in as we head into the third and final part of the series: Your Intent: Why You Do it Matters More Than What You Do.
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