Some friends and I started a scuba diving store when we were in our early twenties. It was a great life, during the day we’d sell equipment in our store and evenings and weekends were occupied by teaching scuba in a local pool and in nearby lakes and rivers. Like many entrepreneurs, initially we were scraping by. But we had real passion for the sport and meeting and teaching customers was awesome. If you have ever worked for a company that has a 3rd gear culture, you’ll know what I’m talking about. We had a sense of community, of being of service and we were part something bigger than just ourselves. We actually WANTED to go to work.
One day one of my regular customers pulled up to the store parking lot in his late model BMW. Steve had taken a few courses from us; he practiced law at a local firm. I spent some time helping him select a new mask for his upcoming vacation to the Bahamas. At the cash register, he suddenly asked, “Dave, what do you like to do?”
I thought about the question and replied, “Well, I like to teach, I like to meet new people and to make them laugh.” He continued, “And what are you good at?” I thought for a minute, “I like to solve problems, I guess that’s why I’m pretty good at sales. When someone comes in here, it’s great to figure out what piece of gear or what course will help them achieve their goal. Sometimes I have to ask a lot of questions.”
Then Steve asked, “what is it you DON’T like to do?” No one had ever asked me that question before. “I suppose I don’t like doing paperwork or financial stuff.” I replied. He smiled, “then you’ll be successful.”
“Why?” I protested, “I just told you the things I don’t like to do.” “No” Steve replied, “What you told me was you have some self-awareness; that you know what you like and what you’re good at and what you don’t like to do.”
“Yes, but if I’m not great at finances that will hold me back, won’t it?” He said, “not necessarily Dave. Sure, make certain you continue to do the stuff you are passionate about. Because your passion for people and for solving problem makes you a great entrepreneur and a salesperson. And for things you dislike or aren’t great at, hire a professional. Make sure you know enough about the issue so they don’t rip you off, but don’t put all your efforts into something you aren’t good at. Too many of my clients think they can do it all. They can’t. And that’s often why they fail. They let their ego get in the way of their performance.”
I never forgot that chat. Know your strengths and your limitations and then find good people to help you fill the gaps.