I have a friend who doesn’t know how to type. She can get by, yes. And she’s turned “hunting and pecking” into an art form.
But she never learned how to think in terms of “a-s-d-f.” Or “j,k,l, semicolon.”
Personally, I think typing is the coolest skill ever. Sometimes when I’m typing, a little observer in my head marvels at my brain machinery, and that I can do this complex finger dance that makes actual words come out on a page.
I shared this with my friend, and she looked longingly at her keypad. “No one ever told me to sign up for typing,” she said.
In fact, I owe my typing talent solely to the fact that I was an utter failure at calculus.
My senior year in high school, I entered Calculus with my friends. We had all been in the same math classes together for years. I had now advanced to an “AP” class and wanted so much to be able to impress the adults.
But Calculus nearly killed me. I wrestled with it. I got extra help. I tried and tried. My ego wanted me to stay in Calculus. So did my parents. And my teacher.
But I dropped out of Calculus.
And I enrolled in a class that was on the other side of my high school. Deep in the hallways where they taught stuff like Shop and Home Ec. Where the loud noises of saws and sewing machines and IBM Selectric II’s wouldn’t bother the smart kids as they worked on logarithm equations.
I walked into typing class a failure.
And I ended up learning how to do the thing that would ultimately become the source of much of my work and success: writing with a machine.
I shared this with my friend. She told me she too took Calculus and scraped by with a D.
I laughed and asked no one in particular: “Guess which class got me further in my life?”
Which brings me to the point.
Too many of us approach our businesses the same way our parents wanted us to approach school: Be good at everything. (Then, stick with everything in order to prove that you are good at everything.)
Even many books on business waggle their fingers at readers, giving them all kinds of lists of stuff to get good at in order to be able to run a business.
It’s a losing game. And an outmoded one at that.
This isn’t to say you won’t have to develop new skill as you build your business. You will.
But there will come a point when, in order to grow any more, you will have to drop out of Calculus. You will have to hand over something that feels utterly un-hand-over-able to you and your ego…
…the accounting, the books, the website design, the invoicing, the customer service, the late night emails from your clients, the one-on-one phone calls. It might even make you feel like you are giving up, or failing in some way.
But your Upleveling is often more about what you say no to – what you stop doing – than it is about new things you start doing.
So, what do you need to drop out of so you can focus on the thing that brings you joy and success?