Be a specialist
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - January 12, 2020 - 12:00am

Business people love taking risks. They deal with significant and vast amounts of money transactions in the day time and then go home and sleep peacefully. This is what business people do.

Athletes love to compete and win. They enjoy facing off their opponents and experience the thrill of victory. This is what athletes do.

But dealing with millions of pesos and winning against the competition means nothing to creative people and artists who love “creating stuff.” Beating the enemy and earning a fortune is usually an after-thought. Still, the joy and fulfillment derived in creative work are what stimulate and stir creative people in their creative endeavors. And it’s a thing that business people and athletes cannot have and do (with a few exceptions).

I love speaking, and this is why I speak, write, do training, and present public seminars and do in-house training hundreds of times in a year. People say I love speaking, and indeed I do. But what most people do not know is that a greater love than speaking is to do research, inquire, attain knowledge and then prepare lessons and share these with clients that could grow their business, solve problems and benefit from the process. For me, this is a form of creative work. Earning money or being in competition with others is not even within my range of interest. They are simply outcomes in the process of doing my craft.

Perhaps this is why I am probably one of the few speakers who still speak in schools giving parenting talks, educators training and student leadership discussions, and all pro-bono for years. Students say this is because I have talents. But talent is no guarantee for success. Talent is God-given, but “talent” is unrealized potential. And if you depend on talent alone, there is only so far you can reach and not any farther. Talent should be developed until it becomes skills, and this happens only when there is determination, efficiency, and consistency in its development.

I began my garment career with visual merchandising, arranging show windows, and helped change clothes in mannequins. I worked my way up until I manage the entire company. I also ventured into retail and developed a keen understanding of the business. I handled both business and people, so I became known as a specialist in the field. Perhaps this is why, up until today, many of the leaders in the same industry still remembers me. There were many offers and opportunities to do other things. But I chose to stick to my area of strength and develop it more. The same principle still works for me today.

I specialize in leadership training. I have been offered to do talks for marketing, sales, and a host of other things. I respectfully decline the offers and stick to my area of strength and competence and develop it further. It is easy for me to do so because the prospect of earning or “competing” with others is not in my purpose. I want to do good creative work that can help clients achieve goals and meet their needs. Some consultants would jump at any chance of any invitations and tackle topics that are not within their competence to the dismay and frustration of the HR people and their bosses who invited them. This is self-defeating. There is a lesson to be learned here. While you are young, it’s good to be a generalist. You may be an amateur in this stage, but you accept assignments. Volunteer to serve to as many activities as you can and get the experiences. The learnings you have here would equip you with the resources to be creative in the future. Do this for a few years, but then you determine your niche, specialize, and be known as an expert.

When you transfer from one company to another, just for the sake of higher pay may not be favorable for you in the long run. Time catches up with you. And you stay a perpetual amateur. You are always a start-up, and one day, you can no longer start, and you can no longer go up (pardon the pun). Others who stay the course become experts.

Do you want to earn? Be good at what you can do. Do you want to earn more? Then be excellent. But once you become the only one who can do what you do, then you would be happy and fulfilled where you are, and you might even make a fortune. It is only at this level that you make a difference.

In all other levels, from amateur to average, you are a mere commodity, and there is too much competition in that category. An expert has fewer competition, and they are very much in demand. Rarely would you see business companies people say, “Francis, we would like to get your services and pay you a lot because your reputation as an amateur precedes you…” Duh! Don’t just go for the money. Money is cheap, and it devaluates. Build expertise, and then you can be useful.

An expert reaches the existential stage in life wherein he or she knows why and what to do while on this planet. They know that seeking their daily bread is essential, but so is finding their daily meaning. Many experts know their sense of purpose. In the Greek Lexicon: Purpose means the attention to contribute to the well-being of others. In other words, it is service to others. So don’t just go for the money thingy, go for what is meaningful.

(Francis Kong’s much awaited and highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership 2020 Edition runs on Jan. 29-30 at SEDA Hotel, BGC. Attend the two-day inspiring and effective seminar workshop. For further inquiries or advanced reservations contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.levelupleadership.ph)

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