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Coffee. … I don’t know about you, but I love coffee. I love the smell of freshly ground beans. I love the taste of coffee, straight-up. No milk. No sugar. Straight. I love strong coffee. Espresso. Cuban coffee. Turkish coffee. No frappacino for me.
Over the years, I’ve even learned a bit about coffee. It’s something I’ve become “good at.” I know which beans and roasts I prefer. I know how to grind the beans correctly. Which regions and countries produce my favorites. I’ve been to a coffee plantation in Kona and had coffee from fresh beans while traveling in Kenya, Indonesia, and Jamaica. … I love coffee and it’s something I’m good at.
Sometimes when I drink a cup of coffee, I’m reminded of a trip my dad and I made to Golden, Colorado in the early 80s to check out the Colorado School of Mines, the world’s premier engineering school focusing on mining, petroleum, and geological engineering and science disciplines. I was traveling to visit the school because it was on my short-list of colleges. Math was something I loved and was good at. Sciences as well. It’s why we were in Golden.
While there, we visited a “spud-nut” shop. My first spudnut was from a spudnut shop in Buchanan, WV that my granddad brought home from a weekly delivery “run” to Buchanan (the shop was a weekly visit for him on his Wednesday run). If you’ve never had a spudnut, you haven’t fully lived. It’s a doughnut that has potatoes (mashed?) in the batter. It gives it a unique taste unlike Kryspy Kreme or Dunkin Doughnuts. We ordered a couple (ok, half a dozen) spudnuts and some coffee (which was self-serve, using a Bunn machine). In the process of pouring the coffee, the bottom of the glass carafe broke and 12 cups of hot coffee went all over the floor. Welcome to Golden, boys! It was a memorable moment and a memorable visit. All to check out a place where I could practice and develop skills in something I loved and was good at.
In the last couple decades, my interests have evolved. I have developed new skills and areas of passion. I’ve learned a few things. I’ve focused in on certain types of jobs, areas of service at church (or in ministry), and hobbies. Today, vocationally, if you ask me what I love and am good at, I’d say general management (or executive leadership). I can go into any organization and, given time, freedom (I’m very much NOT a fan of micromanagement), and resources, turn that organization into a world-class organization. It’s what I love and what I’m good at.
I’ve spent 30 years learning how to lead, communicate, develop others, balance the needs of the business with the needs of the people, deliver sustainable results, and optimize the output of the organization. I’ve learned from my mistakes. Learned from others. Gone back to school to get a doctorate in leadership. Read hundreds (thousands?) of books, articles (popular and academic press). Prayed. Attended conferences. And I LOVE IT!!!
It’s my area of passion and I’m good at it. By the way, lest you think I’m bragging, I’d be the first to say there are many areas which I’m not good at. Or don’t love. No one can do it all. You have to choose.
The purpose of this article is not for you to think I’m anything special, I’m not. I’m just an average “joe.” The purpose of this article is for you to think about what you love and are good at. Once you know what this is, then you can pursue it with your whole heart. You can focus on it. It’s how to become world-class at something.
You may have things you love, but aren’t good at. Some of these are possible to improve and become good at. Others are close to impossible. For example, if you love basketball and want to play center at the international level or in a top professional league (i.e. the NBA) but you’re only 5’ tall, you better accept the fact that it aint’ gonna happen! … Or you may have things you’re good at, but don’t love. If you’re an overachieving A-type, you may “muscle” your way to good performance in many areas that you don’t necessarily love.
When you find what you love and are good at, then do it. Hone it. And share it. Write about it. Spread your knowledge. Help others become good at it.
What is your “sweet spot?” Your gift? Your area of passion? What do you love that you’re good at? How are you sharing your learning’s with others? … If you’re doing something you love and are good at, great! You know how rewarding it is. If not, what changes do you need to make?
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.