Growth Marketing
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Growth Marketing

Level Up — Will you Add Skills or Maximize your Strengths?

Cross training will give you a breadth of knowledge while specialization will give you a depth of knowledge. How do you approach levelling up?

There’s many simple ways for you to justify your skills being better than average… in sports, look at baseball batting averages, basketball shooting percentages, etc. On average, these are less than 50% — a number that we are taught through school is a the difference between passing and failing. Are sports more attractive to kids because it looks like you can go pro with poor performance? Certainly not.

However, when we get back to the skills that you and I use on a daily basis where do you rank? How would you score your skills if you had to assign a batting average to each?

Take a moment.

Think about the things you do that add value or are an essential part of your day.

Now, think back for the length of time that you’ve been doing that thing.

Have you improved? In efficiency? In expertise?

How much have you improved?

While that exercise is usually rewarding because we all crave improvement and you will have seen some improvement in those tasks, I now challenge you to look forward and see where you could take them? How much better could you be at any given task? Could you be the best ever?

Through out my career I’ve heard many conflicting ideas about skills and how we are trained to acquire new skills. The one which resonates with me the most and I often think about is cross-training vs. specialization.

The Case for Cross Training

Being well rounded has come in handy for me personally, I’m well versed in many topics and can lend a hand and relate to more people. While I haven’t formally been trained in a variety of fields, I’m naturally curious and its worked well for me.

Cross-training can open up new opportunities that might not otherwise have been introduced. It can also provide a new set of skills that can mitigate risk if you lose your job or the industry you’re working in takes a major downturn.

Understanding multiple disciplines is fantastic and there’s many books on the topic of cross-training for companies, particularly about respecting other jobs and departments. Cross-training is an essential part of many athlete’s training to keep their body optimized and better protected from injury.

Cross Training gives you a breadth of knowledge.

The Case for Specialization

Specialists are at the top of their field and subsequently get paid more. There’s more time and expertise dedicated to a specific discipline. Paid more probably got your attention. The reality is, specialization works for your career, especially if you’re passionate about what you’re doing.

Recognition comes with specialization. I think of keynote speakers and how limited of a topic they need to present. Personally, I was shocked to give talks and workshops on what felt like only a small piece of a topic, but it made the time work and gave the audience exactly what they needed.

Often, specialists are recognized because the formal training doesn’t exist for their level of knowledge. Its required to be learned. The thousands of hours invested into a topic through research and practice gains insights that few others would be able to copy.

Compounding these insights are the perspective which the specialist brings from their dedication.

Specialization gives you a depth of knowledge.

Cross-Training vs. Specialization — which wins?

Personally, the best example I reference is from John C. Maxwell. At a conference in 2004, this principle made a lot of sense:

If you look at all of your skills and rate them one to ten, and be honest, what is your strongest skill? It doesn’t matter if its a 5, a 6 or an 8. We’re all going to have skills that are 2s and 3s too. Now, if I were to say you could improve only one of your skills by 2 points, how would you apply those points?

Would you improve your 2 so it could be a 4? Or would you make your 8 a 10?

We all would play to our strengths and find the way to go from good to great.

While I love learning new things, I too, would prefer to specialize and get some 10s.

Level Up. Shoot for the high score.

Maybe its my competitive nature that is driving my craving to improve. Its about knowing that my skillset is valuable to what I do, adds value for what my clients require and is significant enough that I can share it with my kids.

To some that can be accomplished by adding more skills and developing a breadth of knowledge. To others, doubling down on passion and skills, you can create a depth of knowledge.

Being a champion is reserved for the elite. I’m just talking about making the playoffs here. Just think, that alone puts you way ahead and into a different bracket.

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