You’re good enough. But nobody else has realised it. You feel like a sprinter, poised at the starting blocks, waiting for the gun so you can unleash all your energy and expertise and take the medal.
But that’s the problem. You’re waiting.
When it comes to opportunities to show your worth, you have two possible paths. First, you wait for someone to come along and give you a chance. Or, you can go out and create an opening for yourself.
Which is better?
The latter, obviously. It’s not enough to develop your skills and learn new things. If that’s all you do, then you’re labouring under a very seductive misconception: that if you’re good enough, and patient enough, then good things will happen to you.
Yes, the first rule is to be really good at what you do. But the second rule, something I picked up from Jonathan Goodman, is to make sure everybody knows it.
Take my writing as an example. I could spend all day honing my craft, preparing, planning, revising, experimenting, reading, learning. And I do do that a lot. But it’s only part of the equation. It doesn’t matter how good my writing is if nobody sees it.
In Traction, they describe the 50/50 rule: 50% of your time should be spent building a great product and 50% should be spent marketing and distributing it.
It’s a rock solid rule for business as much as it is for any creative endeavour. It’s not your customers job to find you, it’s your job to go out and find them. It’s not my reader’s job to discover me, it’s my job to get my work to them.
Whether you run a business, do creative work, or are just a professional looking to progress in your career, recognise this:
You have to be more aggressive. Don’t wait to be discovered. Force the issue. Go out and find the people who need the work that you do. Yes, put a lot of effort into being really good, but put equal effort into making sure that your work or product is found by the right people.
That is, the people who will benefit most from it.