Think about a successful person whom you admire.
What is it that defines their success? Is it fame? Is it money? Is it power? Maybe it’s all three.
One aspect you are unlikely to mention immediately is their skill. Their incredible ability to perform in some specific way often goes unnoticed. Why is that?
I believe that skills are the forgotten goal of our current generation.
In this era we live in social media fame has become the measure of success. More than money, more than power, the rationale goes that if you have a lot more followers than people you are following that somehow this gives you merit. Yet it’s a falsehood. You can methodically build a following based on nothing, but strategic follow/unfollows, smoke and mirrors, or a nice ass.
But skills cannot be faked.
You can’t pretend to be good at something in real time. You can either deliver or you can’t. This is true in business, in communication, in art. There is no way to fake a skill. You must develop it, and that just takes time.
I have been writing now for about three years. One of the most common comments I will receive now on social media these days is ‘you are an excellent writer.’ These comments are signposts that my efforts are paying off. Daily writing is growing my skill. The same thing is true for my speaking skills. I have spent five years now very focused on ways to become a skilled speaker.
Not a famous speaker. Not a rich speaker. A skilled speaker.
I am sharing this not to brag, but because I want to remind myself that the skill is the goal.
For almost two decades I have greatly admired Daniel Day-Lewis. He is in a class of his own as an actor, and continually eschews the model of what fame and wealth should bring to a person.
It took me a long time to understand why he can make only one movie every few years and still rise to the top of the ladder every time. It is a lifetime of building his acting skill. Yes, there is some talent, but it is years of pouring every ounce of his being into his work that has created the skill. He doesn’t waste it on too many projects, he doesn’t brag about it. He just lets the skill show when the time comes.
It is easy to become blinded to the fact that skills are still the omnipresent factor that drives success. It is easy to think that more attention or publicity will somehow push you to another level. But it won’t. It will only reveal your skill level.
Look at those you admire, and realize what you are really observing. A person who has spent years, sometimes their whole life, developing a specific skill. It might not be obvious the first time you see them, but over time their skill will be what is carrying them.
Look inwards at yourself. Ask yourself which skill you would like to develop above all others. Then focus all your energy into developing it.
The skill isn’t just a means to achieve the success you seek.
The skill is the success you seek.