The Best Advice I Have Ever Received

A friend recently asked me, “What’s the best advice you have ever received?”

That question set me back. When someone asks the best of something it’s prudent to pause, ponder and think. After several moments I replied, “I have to say the best advice I have ever received is a simple statement: ‘You have what it takes.’ ”

He asked me to explain.

One of the major hindrances that obstruct us from reaching our full potential is the self-doubt we carry around. There are plenty of voices around us that constantly scream, snicker, or snidely say, “You can’t, because you don’t have what it takes!” I have a choice to make regarding my internal self-dialogue. When I choose my dominant self-talk to be “I really do have what it takes”, it allows me to move forward and to maximize skills and abilities in which I excel.

This is a discovery process that lasts a lifetime. I am still discovering things in which I excel. It’s a discovery in three areas: passion, skill and need.

When you think about your passion, what is it that motivates you? What jazzes you? What excites you? What do you love to do?

When you think about your skills, what can you do well? What do you lose yourself in, not even aware of the time? What do you do with confidence?

Is there a place in the market, a business need, for your passion and skill? Can you improve the condition of your client, customer or employer? Does it bring a tangible benefit to others?

In golf, a proficient golfer knows the jubilant feeling that accompanies a swing that enables the golf club to contact the ball right in the middle of the club. It is referred to as the sweet spot. It feels great. It makes a unique sound which many times is magnified as it reverberates in the surrounding trees. And the trajectory of the ball moves precisely where the golfer intended. There are few things better for a golfer than hitting the ball in the sweet spot. As you develop your passion, refine your skills, and connect these to an ongoing, legitimate market need, you are really in your sweet spot!

In my consulting business, I have the privilege of doing things about which I am passionate. I help develop people, leaders and organizations to maximize their potential. After over two decades of honing my abilities, I have developed skills that allow me to work quickly, pragmatically and effectively with my clients. There is a consistent, recurring and demonstrated market need for what I do. I consistently see tangible, measurable, positive results for my clients.

I would encourage you to think about yourself in the same way.

What do you love doing?

What can you do well or develop into doing well?

Who needs the things you do?

Understanding the value of my sweet spot has made me an ardent believer in being a continual, life-long learner and seeking to consistently grow. Life is an adventurous journey of discovery. In the journey you will discover things that you do well. You will discover things that you do differently than others. You will also discover things that you don’t do well. This discovery process does not happen as you sit in the bleachers of life. It only happens when you engage and get out on the field. You can’t sit around thinking, “Well, what do I really want to do and what am I good at?” It is when you get up, take action, and get in the battle that this discovery comes forth.

When I was in my early 20s, one of my first mentors said to me, “David, know what you can’t do.” It was a statement that caused me pause, but it also was an eye-opener. There are certain things that I just don’t do well. Instead of being frustrated trying to do what I can’t do, I decided to leverage the things that I can do.

A major part of understanding “You have what it takes,” is accepting the reality that as you take action, you won’t always do it right. You will trip and you will fall. Tripping and falling as you go and do, is part of the process. Failure, in and of itself, is part of the process. Just fail forward and fail forward fast. Don’t fear failure. Embrace it. Understand failure helps us discover our passions and helps us discover our skillset.

Years ago I was asked to do a speech on a topic chosen for me. The title of the presentation was “What’s So Good About Failure?” A friend of mine said, “Well David, you’re an expert on THAT topic!” I actually received the critique as a compliment. I was an expert because I have been in the trenches and on the playing field tripping up numerous times.

My mentor drilled into my inner core, “We practice daily what we believe. All the rest is talk.” When I move into taking action mode, then I am practicing what I believe. That internal belief system of “I have what it takes” produces results. Evaluate the results, eliminate the negatives, and then leverage your strengths into your successes.

You have what it takes!

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