You don’t have to be the best in the world if you can be the only person with your unique combination of skills. Building your unique “Skills Network”—with a focus on Multiplier Skills—is an effective strategy for future success.
In my latest post on the Newman Design Squiggle and Finding Your Purpose, we discussed the squiggle as a mental model for other aspects of our lives, including the process of finding our purpose.
We all want to find the path that is right for us. We want to wake up every day knowing that the work we are doing is what we were meant to be doing.
So why are so many people not on that path? And what’s the best strategy for finding it and knowing it’s the right one.
I think the crazy scribble portion is actually MORE IMPORTANT than the final path. The quality of the path you choose is always dependent on what paths you created for yourself. I concluded the post with this question:
1. Are you experimenting purposefully and strategically?
Uncertainty does not equal a lack of agency. You can dictate what you learn about yourself and how.
Learn high value skills. Develop strong relationships. If there is something you love doing, find ways to connect it to other areas of your life. The better you experiment early, the more doors will open to your future.
We need to create high value experiences and develop high value skills. We then we need to tie those together to create a “Skills Network.”
The idea behind a skills network is that mastery is not the only way to be successful. Being the best in the world—or even among the best in the world—is worth pursuing if you have that combination of talent, desire and circumstance to pursue it. I don’t discourage this at all. When you are truly the best, you can reap most of the rewards.
But there’s another path that is open to all of us, and that is to be the only one with our unique combination of skills. You don’t have to be the best if you are the only.
Developing a strong, unique skills network opens up more doors, helps overcome more obstacles, and sets us up for greater success.
THE KEY THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ANY NETWORK
Every network, from cell phones to Facebook to the skills you develop can be broken down into two main parts: nodes and connections
Nodes are the individual components of the network. On Facebook, it’s each person or organization. In a skills network, it’s your natural talents, learned skills, passion, motivation, habits, location, resources, and connections.
Connections are the links between nodes. Some of these connections are stronger, others weaker. Some nodes connect to many other nodes, and some connect to only one or two others. Facebook is a juggernaut because it has billions of nodes making trillions of connections. In your skills network, the connections are your ability to use multiple skills together.
Some skills you are born with or into. Some you get introduced to at a young age. Others you identify and pursue strategically as you get older. And some you may just stumble into. But this network of skills is what determines your potential opportunities and ability to succeed at them.
You need to take ownership of your personal Skills Network and develop it.
The best way to do this is to focus on key skills that have the power to boost all your other skills. I call these “Multiplier Skills.”
WHAT IS A MULTIPLIER SKILL?
A multiplier skill is a skill that connects to many other skills, and amplifies those other skills’ values. They not only make our existing skills stronger, they can be used in any situation. The great thing about multiplier skills is you don’t have to be the best in the world at them to get outsize value. Just being good at them will boost all of your other skills.
Here are some multiplier skills that benefit us no matter what situation we find ourselves in:
Persuasion & Selling
Teaching & Coaching
Productivity & Time Management
Math & Economics
This list is not exhaustive. There are many others. But these stand out to me because I can immediately think of ways to use these skills in any project, any hobby, or any other aspect of my life. At a minimum, a basic understanding of these fields will allow me to have deeper, more meaningful and impactful conversations about whatever situation I’m in.
As with any skill, the more expertise you gain, the better. The stronger your multiplier skill, the more it will amplify everything else in your life.
But it’s the unique combination that ultimately matters most. Your ability to combine your passions, your experiences, and your current abilities with a few well-connected multiplier skills will set you apart from anyone who hasn’t done the same.
If you are pursuing something artistic, this will help make you unique.
If you are pursuing an entrepreneurial career, this will help you find your niche.
If you are working in a large company, this will make you indispensable.
Again, you don’t have to be the best if you are “the only.”
SIMPLE NEXT STEPS
Wherever you are in your journey—in the messy beginning or far along a defined path—you can always learn one more skill.
If you don’t know what you want to do, learning a multiplier skill will create more opportunities to use what you already know.
If you feel stuck, learning a new multiplier skill will open more new doors and ways of succeeding.
If you are on a path you no longer like, a multiplier skill will either help you enjoy it more or it will lay the foundation for a transition to something new.
Choose the one new skill you are most interested in. Start small by reading a book or starting a course. Dabble. Use it to solve a personal problem. Then use it to solve someone else’s problem. If you like it and want to do more, do more. If you don’t, pick another one.
You don’t have to be the best at these skills for them to make a big difference. But you do have to be good at them and you do have to establish unique connections with your other skills.
It will take some time, but developing your multiplier skills is as close as you can get to a surefire system for success.
Bryan Green is the co-founder, Editor, and COO of Go Be More. He is continually working on his skills network and believes in the power of multiplier skills to set you apart from your competition. You can give him feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our Facebook page.