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“I have to master so many skills. There is so much to do. I don’t have time” complained the young manager.

“I am facing flak from every corner” he said.” I think I should work on my presentations, last time I was embarrassed in a presentation for a client. I should sharpen my analytical skills, and work on my business perspective. And track new trends in technology. And develop an understanding of new processes. My boss was shocked when I could not identify the root cause of a recent problem. Looking at it in hindsight I am amazed I didn’t see it myself. And oh yeah! I need to understand my team members better. When ever I try one way to motivate them, they seem to want something else. I also should get better at dealing with numbers”

“Man, this job is a handful” he concluded.” Do I need to be Superman to survive? I some times feel I should have stayed on in my last role.”

As the conversation continued, I noticed that the manager had fallen into the age old trap. Of trying to excel at everything. He had forgotten that there are some factors in his job which are Critical for Success. He need not be expert in everything but he has to be very, very good in the few factors critical for success.

Let me explain. There is little point in being terrific in programming in many languages if you do not need that skill in your current job. You may be great in Greek and Malay but what use if your clients speak in French or German? Likewise, if your job requires you to be very innovative can you afford to be poor in creativity? If your job demands meticulous documentation, can you afford to be a “I-have-everything-in-my-head Maverick kind of guy”?

We have so much to do. There’s no point trying to be best at everything. Identify those factors which are crucial for success in your job.

How do we do this? Look at superior performers in same/similar jobs. What are the skills they are great at? On what parameters is your performance evaluated? What matters most to your customer ( internal or external) ? What are the few key parts of your job in which you simply must excel.

Work to master those skills. “And no, you don’t have to be Superman” I told him “ you just need to be a smart man.”

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