Honesty: The Secret to Specialization

I had the pleasure of sitting down with a friend this morning who I happened to have hired into a role at another job – he’s still a young guy, finalizing his bachelor’s degree but sharp as nails and willing to work hard to make things happen.

One of the unique things about this young man is his unassuming level of honesty with what he can and cannot do – I’ve talked about this previously in more than a few posts but this morning’s meeting was a firm reminder of why I choose him to fill an incredibly significant role. Sure, he was functionally capable of performing the tasks required of him but it was his honesty about what he could not do that set him a part from the rest of the candidates.

Very few people have that level of emotional intelligence and right amount of humility to admit to someone that they may not know very well that they can’t do X or Y or Z.

What I’ve found, though, is that this has less to do with an outward presentation of honesty to others and more about honesty with self – that is, that they have come to terms with their natural limitations and are enjoying the freedom and peace that are a natural consequence of that reality.

This is the fine art of specialization and the science of being especially good at what you do – the quicker you can learn to do this the better.

And this makes sense, right? You want to be the best at what you do – or at least continue to improve your skills in a focused area. And for sure you want to work with people that are talented and that don’t waste their time in activities that are unproductive (outside hobbies and personal enjoyment activities).

The secret is to work with people that are honest about who they are, what they do, and how they can contribute to the overall success of the team and organization. You didn’t grow up hoping, dreaming, and wishing to be a generalist, a mediocre player in a sea of mediocrity – you dreamed about doing something wonderful, special, and unique.

Now’s your chance and it starts with you.

I had a blast this early morning at 5:30am with this gentleman – he reminded me how critical it is to be honest with oneself and others and he encouraged me to help coach others to do the same. Naturally, he was the genesis of this blog post. Kudos to you sir, kudos to you.

[Image via Creative Commons, joel.]