We all know that, typically, to be successful you need to be better than other people at something, to have an advantage that you exploit. Something that makes you stand out…
A specialty skill of some kind. But is that enough?
You know what is better than having 1 speciality skill? That’s right! Having 2!
But in all seriousness, a set of binary skills is rare and possessing one instantly makes you more valuable and interesting because you defy traditional wisdom.
What is a binary pair of skills?
Well it’s two skills that typically do not come together, where if someone were to say they were talented at both these areas, it would raise more questions than answers…
Surprise shocks people out of autopilot, makes them take notice.
You must defy stereotypes by combining things that are usually mutually exclusive, if you want to become memorable.
It often does not take a lot, and the added benefit is that you don’t need to be as good at each of the two things as you do if you only have one skill to lean on.
You get a premium if they are a rare combination. This doesn’t just apply to business, binary traits just make you a scarce resource in general.
And when humans come across a scarce resource they want to acquire as much of it as they can and hoard it.
At the risk of offending people by listing stereotypes (it is not about truth, it is about denying someone’s immediate expectation when you prime them with the context of your first skill).
Here are some examples that spring to mind:
- Are you a talented software developer, but also really personable and enjoy meeting new people?
- Do you have excellent financial pattern recognition but also highly creative and artistic?
- Can you compel people to do things (charisma) but also have a fantastic ability to condense and synthesise information from many different sources quickly?
- Do you have amazingly snappy memory recall but also an excellent creative writer?
- Are you a great at chess but also good at improv comedy?
There are more pairs than we can count, defy the expectations, lean into your quirks, what makes you weird?
It’s not about twisting yourself into a role you want. It’s about tailoring your jobs into your unfair advantages.
Example: I’m obsessed with what makes people do what they do. Leading me to study psychological concepts to great depths over the last years. But I’m also a deeply logical thinker, which has led to me becoming a good software architect and developer. I’ve combined these over the last year to develop Gratitude into the innovative product it is today.
Throughout history the greatest minds have been trans-domain in their expertise. The phrase “Renaissance Man” refers to these greats, like Leonardo Da Vinci. Who mastered many fields, from physics to philosophy, from painting to engineering.
Innovation comes from combining previously contradictory elements.
Another example: I have an intense grit that I’ve developed through really pushing my boundaries in recent years, establishing a strong equilibrium that isn’t easily shaken — a stoic resilience.
Combine that with a smiley/optimistic demeanour and a ‘not-taking-myself-too-seriously’ sense of humour; you have the makings of a bottomless pit of impassioning motivation for others.
This is just to rattle off the first that come to mind — these things are what make you unique. They are what you should be pursuing and not your ‘passion’, which is arbitrary thing you may not be good at.
By identifying and articulating these unfair advantages you can start the isolate what your true strengths are, which in turn will provide an intuitive path for you to follow.
Start here, but the journey goes on.