Finding Your Natural Expertise
When we talk about natural expertise we usually restrict our focus on defining the “area” of talent, for example, we might say “he is talented in singing” or “he’s talented with number crunching” – I would call this “area-based” talent. So, whenever you are asked to look within and find your natural expertise, you immediately start looking for a specific area-based talent, however, the truth is that your natural expertise does not just depend on your area-based talent but it also depends largely on the style of execution that’s natural to you. Most of us are good at a few things, for example, you may be good at singing, painting/crafts, writing fiction, cooking and comedy, so all of these may be your area-based talents but you may not be productive in any of these areas in terms of commercial viability and hence may be depending on doing something in an area, that’s not aligned with your talent, purely for the sake of making money – this leaves you feeling frustrated due to the sense of struggle and disconnection. Unless you are making a contribution, and hence making money, through your natural expertise, you are bound to feel a nagging sense of disconnection with yourself which manifests into irritability, frustration and self-deprecation.
As I mentioned above, your natural expertise is not just “area-based” but also “execution based” – it’s not just the area that you are naturally good at, but also the style of execution that you are naturally aligned with. Most of us are not aware of what’s our natural style of execution and this is the reason why we usually fail at bringing out our full potential in terms of professional productivity, which is what is required for a consumer-friendly contribution and hence is required for an inflow of money for you (this post follows up on the previous post on – A Deeper Perspective on Money where I talk about consumption-contribution principle for balanced flow of money). Making money has a light and dark nature associated with it, the light nature is one of contribution and the dark nature is one of professionalism – a professional contribution involves the whole cycle of idea generation, organization and packaging, which is what makes it a truly useful product in terms of public consumption.
It’s one thing to be good/talented at something and a totally different thing to be able to make it professionally productive for public consumption. It’s also a fact that it takes professional productivity to create a product, or service, that serves a large-scale value – a product/service without any real structure is hardly useful to the large-scale public and hence lacks a commercial value, for example, you may be good at playing the guitar but unless you are out playing in the clubs, or packaging your own album, it has very little contribution value because it’s not reaching a target audience and hence has very little capacity to generate money for you. What’s really important to understand is that you don’t have to be good at all the aspects of professional productivity, you just have to be good at one particular style of execution needed in the cycle of production and then you need to work on the basis of “co-operation” with people, possessing the other styles of execution, in order to create a professional product/service.
Understanding your natural style of execution
Before understanding what I mean by “execution style”, it’s important to understand what talent means. A lot of people equate talent to expertise, which is just a misplaced thinking. Talent is just something you are “comfortable” doing, for example if you are comfortable driving a car that’s a talent you have (you may take it for granted but there are many who are highly uncomfortable driving a car because their mind cannot process multiple inputs, like steering and accelerating, at the same time). Talent is that simple, it’s just something you are comfortable with and hence something that you are quite good at, something that doesn’t feel alien to you. For example, I can clearly say that singing is not my talent because I am just not comfortable with it and I am extremely bad at it, and the same holds true for painting/drawing because I still draw like a one year old and it’s not something I feel creatively comfortable with. Now one might say that “practice makes perfect” (the nurture vs nature argument), and I am sure if I really practice hard I might improve in some way in both these areas, but the truth is that it would never feel natural to me, it would always feel “forced”. A better perspective is to understand that if you feel naturally comfortable with something then you can use “practice” to become an expert at it, and though practice requires work, you will not find it to be a struggle, and it won’t feel unnaturally forced.
Let go of having some high-blown, extra-ordinary, idea about what “talent” means. Just keep it simple, talent is just something that you are comfortable with, something that “you” feel you are quite good at. If you observe, it’s quite easy (especially as an adult) to know the things that you are not good at, or uncomfortable at, and things that you are quite good at. For example, I am not good/comfortable at – singing, cooking, yoga, comedy/wit, debates or organized elocution or oration, politics, financial areas (stocks, real estate, commodity trading et al), painting, creating music, math, sports in general, working with gadgets, story telling, riding roller coasters (yeah that matters), organized dancing (I just can’t follow dance instructions/steps) etc. From my observation I find that I am good/comfortable at – reading, non-fictional writing, analytical thinking, psychology, working out with weights and driving. Of course the list of things you are not good at will always be much larger than things you are good at, that’s because there are too many options/choices/aspects in life but each of us is mostly designed to experience only a subset of options from them (and it’s a good thing to have this limitation so that we can decide what to focus on, too many options will leave you confused and scattered).
So, a talent is like a “potential” that you can work with towards converting into a productive out-flow which will provide a contribution towards the public and allow for a monetary inflow for you. You can use some of the talents purely for re-creational purposes, for example, I would use driving, working out and reading for re-creational purposes, while using reading, non-fictional writing, analytical thinking for productive purposes – one can use certain talents for both, re-creation and productivity. The crux is that when a talent needs to be converted into a publicly consumable product/service it requires you to “execute” in a manner that allows for a professional contribution. However, the cycle of professional contribution/productivity requires different styles of execution, that need to work in unison, to deliver the product as commercially consumable; the different styles of execution are as below:
The creative imagination, or idea, generator
Some people are really good at coming up with ideas relating to their “area-based” talent. For example, the concept of “dubstep” was just an idea that someone came up with about how to integrate repetitive techno into music, so this person was quite good at working with music (area-based talent) and came up with the idea to create a new genre of music. Not everyone is good at out of box thinking or creative imagination in terms of idea generation. However, these people lack the organizational capabilities to put the idea into professional execution, in fact they may even lack the foresight/acuity to envision the potential of their idea; they just come up with the idea and usually let it drift if they are assisted towards “grounding” it by a visionary (discussed below). These people are very good at analytical thinking, logical reasoning and complex cognitive perception, in other words they are really good “thinkers”. This style of execution has a very important place in the cycle of professional productivity, after all it’s the idea that gives birth to a product to start with. It’s just that the people who are naturally good at this style of execution can be very poor at routine-work, or ground work, which is required for managing/marketing a product. They are unstructured and come across as being dis-organized, haphazard, lacking discipline and dedication.
Some people are naturally good at being a visionary with respect to the contribution potential of an idea, or its real world use-ability – in other words they understand the productivity aspect of an idea. These people are good at grounding an idea to the real world in terms of thinking about the various possibilities for contribution, marketability and revenue generation. They are “thinkers”, and they work with their vision for the potential of the idea, however they are also not good at putting things in place in terms of doing the ground work. You can think of them as navigators who work on creating a map of the journey, once they get the idea for the journey, but they are not good at finding the details of how to traverse the journey on the ground. The place for this style of execution, in the cycle of productivity, is that these people are good at envisioning the potential of an idea and mapping a general direction for the idea – they stay with the idea, they create a template for the idea and can thus sell/market an idea. They hate working on details or the nitty-gritty stuff of how to execute the idea in real-time, they hate routines, they hate dealing with technical issues, but they are good at understanding the potential of an idea. They are structured, but find the “routines” of organization, details, delegation and ground work, to be draining.
These people are good at creating a workable plan with respect to understanding the nitty-gritty requirements. They can come up with the details needed to execute an idea, in fact they are really good with details. They have a penchant for asking the detail oriented questions with respect to real world marketability, resources, time constraints, applicability and challenges. They are highly structured and they love to work with the “to do” lists, setting goals, setting deadlines, setting priorities and understanding limitations – they are very practical. They have a proclivity towards converting everything in a workable plan, schedule or structure. They find it very difficult to communicate with people who are not detail-oriented or “practical” – hence they are not great with the “creative imagination generator” type people who they might think of as slobs. This style of execution is necessary for organizing a plan and aggregating/delegating the resources required to get the plan rolling into the “production” stage. They are not great thinkers but excellent “doers” with respect to doing the organization of ground work.
The work horse
They are not very creative, they are not big on “thinking”, but they are great at routine work, highly efficient at getting the “ground work” accomplished. They are unstructured in the sense that they are not big on “planning” or organizing, but they are highly focused in terms of getting a specific job done if they are given a deadline and a well detailed project to work on. In other words, you can give them some work that’s required as a part of packaging the product and they will stay with it efficiently as long as you are paying for their keep; they are not very interested in understanding the higher level implication of their work, they are less concerned with the bigger picture of the organization, they just like having their work spelled out correctly so that they can go at it with a narrow focus. They are good at executing the ground work to create a solution, they are not good at coming up with the creative thinking for generating a solution. Of course all the styles of execution are a form of “work”, but this particular style of execution has a narrow element of being work-centric without emotional (or deeper level) intelligence regarding the work. They are most comfortable when they don’t have to come up with ideas or use their imagination too much. The work horse style of execution is necessary to bring an idea into real world production which involves routines, maintenance and reporting.
You will notice that you will fit into to one of the above styles of execution prominently, and predominantly, while being “okay” at other styles of execution. We all have the capacity to take care of all these styles of execution, on our own, but we are naturally inclined (and comfortable) towards one particular style of execution, which is part of our natural expertise. A person who’s style of execution is one of a “work horse” will always find it difficult to be a visionary and vice versa, and it would feel forced, like a real struggle. Identifying your natural style of execution allows you to stop trying to fit into a style of execution that’s just not aligned with you. A lot of us end up belittling ourselves by thinking that we are “stupid” for not being good at a particular style of execution, for example a creative-imagination generator type of a person would constantly feel criticized for not being methodical, or structured, enough to execute his ideas, and he may start feeling negative about himself, thinking that there is something wrong with him, when in truth it’s just his natural style of execution.
Productivity requires co-operation
To be truly productive in the real-world you need to use the leverage of co-operation. Each style of execution is complimentary towards the other styles of execution, and they are all needed for professional productivity. A team should ideally consist of people who collectively bring in all the four styles of execution to the fore; for example, a team that only has “organizers” without the “work horses” would never be able to get the routine work in place and hence will have issues with packaging, maintenance and reports, and without the visionary there is no higher level motivation, and without the idea generators there is no new venture to work on. The way we are created/designed is so that we fit in with a cycle of productivity through our natural style of execution in our area-based talent. For example, your area-based talent may be in cooking and your style of execution may be one of a visionary – it’s important to understand both these aspects in you to truly realize your potential for contribution, and which role you fit in with.
Co-operation is the basis of real world productivity, you can’t be an island onto yourself. However, it’s important that you bring in the co-operation of people who are different than you in terms of their style of execution while having a similar area-based talent. You will also have to learn to understand the thinking of a person with a different style of execution than yours – for example, it’s easy for a work-horse type person to put down a visionary type person by saying that he/she is not doing any “real” work, when in truth the visionary is doing the work of creating the template for the idea’s potential and the work-horse is getting employed because of that vision. One style of execution is not “higher” than another style, they are all of the same value because they are all needed for the completion of productivity cycle.
If you are wondering which style of execution makes the most money, the answer would be that your money making ability does not depend on a style of execution but upon how aligned you are with your natural expertise and how much you value it. One style of execution is not more financial superior to another, since they all have the same value in the production cycle. Of course, we all have different financial requirements and from a place of alignment we can bring in the financial inflow that’s congruent with our particular requirement. The money inflow, relative to your true requirement, will come in as a byproduct of your alignment; it’s not something that you need to work on specifically. What you need to work on is finding your natural style of execution, finding the areas of talent, and making a conscious choice towards working from this place of alignment. For all you know, the only blockade to your productivity (and higher returns) could be the fact that you are not delegating parts of your work that are not suited to your style of execution, for example, if you are an “organizer” type person you can delegate/outsource the parts that need a “work horse” and thus have more time to work on the planning aspects, leading to an improvement in your productivity as a whole.
To take my personal example, I find myself to be more of a creative imagination/idea generator type person. For a good part of my life I kept struggling with trying to fit into the “work horse” mindset which was externally conditioned into me (or which I took up based on unconscious thinking). I have always been a “thinker”, I like observing, analyzing and reasoning out things; it’s difficult for me to follow rigid instructions, it’s difficult for me to focus on a routine work, I am not great at working with systems and protocols (for ex, the very idea of filing for a visa makes me not want to travel), I can’t stay with one thing for long unless I find new creative possibilities in it, I can work on intricate details of analytical thinking but am not great at dealing with the details of organization/mapping/planning needed to create a product. My brother is more of an organizer, and in our business that’s a big help in ensuring that some of my ideas get into production or find a channel of productive expression. Even with respect to this blog, I came up with the idea for it and I write the content, while he took care of the technical aspects of registering the web-domain, putting up the wordpress template, auto backups and handling the administration – running a wordpress domain may not seem like a lot of work but it would have deterred me from grounding this idea if I had to manage that aspect (so you can see how small things matter in the cycle of execution). All of this holds true even in a 9 to 5 job, if your role, in the office, is in opposition to your natural style of execution you will always find it difficult to be truly productive.
Why do we disconnect with our style of execution?
Like I mentioned, we all have the capacity to work with all the styles of execution, it’s just that none us is naturally aligned with all the styles – we are predominantly aligned with one style of execution and have secondary inclination towards another style, with a tertiary and quaternary inclination towards the rest. Working on our predominant style of execution is what allows for highest sense of satisfaction, aliveness, interest and contribution. On the contrary if you are stuck working on a tertiary or quaternary style of execution, on a predominant basis, you are bound to feel irritated, stressed out and low on productivity. And why would we do that? It’s mostly because of a lack of self-awareness or self-understanding, where we mindlessly follow a certain way of behaving/working which was impressed upon us a kid, for example if your parents were mostly work horses they would try to condition you with their mindset (when they are low on awareness towards understanding your needs), while you may be an “idea generator” type of a person, causing you feel incompetent for not standing up to the expectations of your parents – some people keep trying to fit in to their past conditioning instead of taking the time to work on self-awareness, to understand their natural style of execution or talent.
There is also this sense of not valuing one’s expertise or contribution – this sense is usually at the background of being resistant to allowing a balanced inflow of money relative to your contribution. You will notice some people valuing each aspect of what they do, to the point of charging for every minute that they expend their service, and then there are people who might put in several hours of service without valuing it too much. You can allow your contribution to bring in the natural value if you don’t impose a limiting thinking on top of it of undervaluing yourself. For example, a creative idea generator can easily start undervaluing his/her work because externally it doesn’t seem like a lot of work, because the work is mostly done in terms of “thinking” rather than in terms of “doing” – to someone watching from outside it may seem like the “idea generator” type person is basically doing nothing, because his/her work is not externally visible as that of a work horse or an organizer. However, in truth, creative ideas and new ways of thinking are pivotal to bring in better productivity, new products and new solutions, which can create a lot of financial improvement for the outside – the “idea generator” type people have to understand this value that they are providing and stop undermining their contribution in their own mind; when they let go of this form of limiting thinking they can allow a balanced inflow of money relative to their contribution. The same is true for all the different styles of execution – if you are not experiencing a balanced inflow of money, it’s an indication that you may either be disconnected with your natural style of execution or may be undermining the value you are providing by self-deprecating thoughts.
It takes self-awareness, and the state of allowing the release of the pull of past conditioning, to let go of functioning from an incongruent style of execution. A visionary would find it really hard to be a work-horse, but he/she may continue doing so from a place of old conditioning which they are afraid of letting go. If you are too identified with certain patterns of conditioning, you will have to bring in a deep awareness towards it and see through your struggle based preoccupation with those patterns (using Brainev, along with the state of allowing, is highly effective in releasing strong identification with past conditioned patterns, especially the anxiety of letting go It’s important to recognize what feels like your natural style of execution, especially by seeing through the styles of execution that don’t feel “comfortable” to you – this recognition not only serves the purpose of giving you the opportunity to move towards higher productivity but also allows you to let go of any sense of self-deprecation that you felt, towards yourself, while struggling with a style of execution that’s not natural to you.
Your natural expertise, in productivity, is a combination of your area-based talent and style of execution. You can’t do much with your talent if you are struggling with a style of execution that’s not natural to you. The fact is that unless you let go of the style of execution that’s not natural to you, you can’t find the co-operative assistance coming in from the outside – you need to create a gap before it can get filled, if you keep working at all styles of execution on your own you will not allow an opening to be filled by a co-operative element. Once you consciously recognize your style of execution, and align with it (by letting go of limiting conditioning), you will feel a strong sense of connecting with your purpose in your current human existence, a sense of fitting-in which you may not have felt before – this connection opens up the doors for fluent productivity, personal satisfaction along with consistent growth opportunities and abundant inflow of money (relative to your requirement).