If you want a pet that barks, you should get a dog.
If you want a pet that meows, you should get a cat.
What you shouldn’t do is get those two options mixed up.
People who want a pet that barks should not get a cat.
People who want a pet that meows should not get a dog.
This seems so obvious that I feel a bit ridiculous even putting these ideas in writing.
However, somehow, what seems so obvious about pets doesn’t seem to apply as easily to us as humans.
In my 20s, nearly everyone I knew was trying to be something. In many cases, people who were “dogs” were trying to be “cats” and vice versa.
People who were artists were trying to force themselves to be accountants.
People who were do-ers were trying to force themselves to be thinkers.
People who were good in corporate were trying to force themselves to be good at startups.
As I’ve gotten older (and hopefully, wiser), I’ve come to appreciate how a slightly higher percentage of people have given up trying to be something they are not… and they are both happier and more successful as a result.
It’s the artist who failed as an accountant… who went on to be a great artist.
It’s the do-er who finally gave up trying to be a thinker… and just focused on being a great do-er.
It’s the corporate warrior who realized, “I stink at startups”… and just focused on excelling in a larger company.
It’s not that any one of these options is good or bad. It’s that some things are a natural fit for us, and some things are definitely not.
We all have a natural “sweet spot” — a set of things we do unusually well with comparatively less effort than others.
The trick in life and career planning is to find a way to operate in that sweet spot the majority of the time… and find others who are great at the things you aren’t so you can collaborate with them as colleagues, employees, bosses, clients, consultants, members of your network, close friends, family members, or romantic partners.
You don’t need to do it all (nor do I).
You do you.
I do me.
Then, let’s find ways to work together to get better outcomes for both of us.
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