I Can Do Almost Anything – So?

A young man, armed with letters of introduction from prominent men, one day presented himself before Chief Engineer Parsons, of the Rapid Transit Commission of New York, as a candidate for a position.  “What can you do?”  Have you any specialty?” asked Mr. Parsons.  “I can do almost anything,” answered the young man.  “Well,” remarked the chief engineer, rising to end the interview, “I have no use for anyone who can ‘almost’ do anything.  I prefer someone who can actually do one thing thoroughly.”  (Og Mandino’s University of Success)

One thing I see repeatedly is people who are “generalists.”  They attempt to do a little of everything.  There is the underlying belief that being multi-talented will open more doors.  But even in today’s workplace you will advance more by being a specialist.  If you are courteous, dependable, show up for work on time and do what’s expected of you, you can get a job at WalMart or Burger King before the sun goes down.  But those characteristics do little to separate you from thousands of other job seekers.  What is it that you do uncommonly well?  What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?  Define that and you will rise to the top of your field quickly.

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  • Bryan Hart

    I can cook, clean, fix computers, preach sermons, kills mice by throwing a germ-x bottle across the room, make people laugh, take tests, coach, consult, build a moderate website, record audio programs, create video teaching presentations, write for newspapers, clean chicken coops, eliminate varmints, butcher wild game, play video games…and a handful of other things.

    Anyone looking to hire?

    • Anonymous

      Yeah – I need someone to spread wood chips on my nature trails.  It pays $10 an hour.  Sounds like you’d be the perfect man for the job.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah – I need someone to spread wood chips on my nature trails.  It pays $10 an hour.  Sounds like you’d be the perfect man for the job.

      • Bryan Hart

        Great! I’ll be calling next week!
        ______________

        Seriously, though. Thank you for helping me develop my USP and pursue my dreams. I cannot believe the change that the 48 Days process has made for me.

        Thanks for the great content.

  •  Hi Dan,

    Good stuff.

    I think that the lack of awareness and true self-confidence leads to overused answers such as “almost anything”.

  • Thanks for all you share.  Now I just need to courage to go forward and make it happen.  Others see my value.  I amaze them.  I can help anyone but myself.  Now it’s time to help myself.  LOVE this community. It’s like reading a new Giuide Post magazine every day! but with friends.    The little engine that could starts up today.
    http://www.ahouseforchristmas.com 

    • Hi Vickie,

      What would you do today if you realized that you already had the courage in which you speak of as lacking? 

    • Hi Vickie,

      What would you do today if you realized that you already had the courage in which you speak of as lacking? 

    • Hi Vickie,

      What would you do today if you realized that you already had the courage in which you speak of as lacking? 

    • Anonymous

      Vickie – thanks for your note.  Knowing your unique value and having a clear plan of action will give you the courage to go forward with boldness and enthusiasm.

    • Anonymous

      Vickie – thanks for your note.  Knowing your unique value and having a clear plan of action will give you the courage to go forward with boldness and enthusiasm.

  • Hi Dan,
    Great Post.

    I got caught up in the I can do almost everything a few years ago. It came from doing so many jobs with my former company and ministry I was involved in that I thought I could do everything. To make a long story short I burned myself out. I quickly found out that a generalist gets by passed for the specialist. I have learned to become a specialist in one main thing and not spread myself over many. I have discovered my USP and I believe it is going to take me places I can only dream of. Dan, thank you for specializing.

    Thanks,
    Bernard Haynes

  • Hi Dan,
    Great Post.

    I got caught up in the I can do almost everything a few years ago. It came from doing so many jobs with my former company and ministry I was involved in that I thought I could do everything. To make a long story short I burned myself out. I quickly found out that a generalist gets by passed for the specialist. I have learned to become a specialist in one main thing and not spread myself over many. I have discovered my USP and I believe it is going to take me places I can only dream of. Dan, thank you for specializing.

    Thanks,
    Bernard Haynes

    • Anonymous

      Bernard – your story is very common.  But experience is what helps us all get the clarification we need.  Find the 2 or 3 things you do really well and find ways to spend 90% of your time doing those.

  • It is true that you can know and learn many different abilities, but one does need to find his or her unique niche that they are good at and use that to propel them forward. 

    •  Hi Peder,

      You are so right in that.

      What would you say are two or three of the best ways to zero in on a niche that will bring out the best in you?

      • Well you definitely have to realize what are your passions are. Another way to put it is, what  “fills your tank”, gives you energy for life and something that you never seem to get tired of.  Second figure out what you are good at. And finding the passions that overlap with what you are good at help set you apart from others.  That would be the first two things to start with!

      • Well you definitely have to realize what are your passions are. Another way to put it is, what  “fills your tank”, gives you energy for life and something that you never seem to get tired of.  Second figure out what you are good at. And finding the passions that overlap with what you are good at help set you apart from others.  That would be the first two things to start with!

  • Even now with the economy being the way it is, the businesses that are surving are the niche one’s. The one’s that focus on very specific things

  • Courtney

    The problem I find myself running into is that I cannot seem to identify one or a couple things I am just plain good at. I tend to be mediocre in a few things but not great in any one thing, so that niche business idea that I have been searching for has been very elusive.

    • Of the list of things that you are mediocre at performing, are any of them things that you really enjoy doing?  If so, pick the one that you are MOST PASSIONATE about and learn how to do it better.  Read books, attend conferences, take classes on how to take that skill to a whole new level.

      What helped me most was when I found that “ONE THING” that I would be willing to do all day long, for free!  I spent almost all my free time, doing that ONE THING.  A few years later, I left my soul sucking career in insurance to pursuing a career in “podcasting” full-time.

      Today, I’m a highly sought after consultant and I do pretty well for myself.  Check out http://PodcastAnswerMan.com/income.

      I was mediocre when I first started podcasting.  It wasn’t until I had been podcasting, as a hobby, for a year before I felt that I was “pretty decent” at it.  Though, one thing was sure… I had a PASSION for what I was doing and I was investing 20 to 60 hours a week in doing it.

      Since December of 2005, I have WELL OVER 10,000 hours logged in work related to Audio Podcasting.

      This response is not meant to be a way for me to show off what I have done.  I share this to tell you that the way to get there is to SPECIALIZE IN SOMETHING!  Start today/this week by reading a book about that “one thing.”

    • Of the list of things that you are mediocre at performing, are any of them things that you really enjoy doing?  If so, pick the one that you are MOST PASSIONATE about and learn how to do it better.  Read books, attend conferences, take classes on how to take that skill to a whole new level.

      What helped me most was when I found that “ONE THING” that I would be willing to do all day long, for free!  I spent almost all my free time, doing that ONE THING.  A few years later, I left my soul sucking career in insurance to pursuing a career in “podcasting” full-time.

      Today, I’m a highly sought after consultant and I do pretty well for myself.  Check out http://PodcastAnswerMan.com/income.

      I was mediocre when I first started podcasting.  It wasn’t until I had been podcasting, as a hobby, for a year before I felt that I was “pretty decent” at it.  Though, one thing was sure… I had a PASSION for what I was doing and I was investing 20 to 60 hours a week in doing it.

      Since December of 2005, I have WELL OVER 10,000 hours logged in work related to Audio Podcasting.

      This response is not meant to be a way for me to show off what I have done.  I share this to tell you that the way to get there is to SPECIALIZE IN SOMETHING!  Start today/this week by reading a book about that “one thing.”

  • Ski Carve

    Ha, ha, ha! He didn’t get the job, so he might as well help Mr.  Parsons the “chief engineer with basic English comprehension. “I can do almost anything” is far different from “I can almost do anything.” Adverbs, adjectives, and prepositions  are amazing things- except when people don’t know what to do with them. Or maybe Og Mandino the author did not quite comprehend?

    • I believed one’s mastery of language crucial as well — however I was just passed over for a promotion to team lead in favor of a younger developer with serious spelling and grammar problems who was out of the office almost as much as he was in the office.  Talk about a wake up call.

  • Aprilsykora

    I believe that is not only very true, but one of the most difficult tasks to do. Especially when you have been ” working” so long doing things you really don’t like just to make a living. It’s hard to find the time apart from an already unbalanced family/work life; to find time for what you enjoy and might be good enough at it to make money! Such a crazy unbalanced life!