Five Steps Toward Finding Your Professional Sweet Spot

 

This, for the uninitiated, is a baseball bat.

baseball bat

You can swing it and strike a pitched ball anywhere from the bottom of the handle to the top of the barrel.

But there’s only one place – the “sweet spot” – where you’re going to get maximum power.

Doubles, triples, and home runs happen at the sweet spot. Foul balls and weak grounders happen – well, everywhere else.

It’s the same with our professional lives. As businesses, consultants, or employees, we each have a sweet spot – a place where we do our best work. And one of our primary goals, even more important than a fat paycheck, is to find our sweet spot and do our best work there.

Believe me – the fatter paychecks and the sense of professional fulfillment are at our sweet spot. That’s where we are most fruitful and happy.

As a kid, I used to dream of being a baseball player. But it was just a dream. I did not have the physical gifts. I did not have the DNA, the “wiring,” to be a great athlete. At best, I might hit a few weak grounders – and no-one pulls on a major-league uniform on the basis of desire joined to incompetence!

Turns out my sweet spot is being a consultant. It took years of progressively working through various roles to narrow down to exactly the spot where I hit homers. The fog in the mirror clears by working hard and trying different things.

So how do we find our sweet spot? Here are 5 things to keep in mind:

  1. You have a sweet spot. You DO have a unique set of skills and a unique makeup that will add value to others. Believe that, even if the mirror seems foggy right now.
  2. Finding your sweet spot is a progression. Baseball players spent lots of time perfecting their swing. They learn their sweet spot through hitting a lot of foul balls and dink singles. This is a pursuit, a discovery process.
  3. Listen to others. People outside of ourselves have a far more objective and realistic view of our strengths and weaknesses. Seek wise counsel. You can’t read the label of the jar you’re in.
  4. Listen to your heart. Which types of tasks, activities, or roles make you happy? Where do you feel like you’re in a zone (or not)? I learned, over time, that I felt immensely drained and ineffective managing people. Therefore, I crossed that off the list. But I love to listen, analyze, counsel, and connect. So, that’s the role (and business) I created.
  5. Envision a role where you could be hitting for extra bases most of the time. For instance, don’t permanently settle for pre-defined corporate roles if you know you’re an entrepreneur at heart. Take steps to “role your own” – define a niche that fits you, instead of trying to force-fit yourself into someone else’s structure. Then, begin to take steps toward that sweet spot.

Even though the advice above sounds like it’s just for individuals, simply change a few words, and the same principles hold true for companies. If you’re too busy trying to be like everyone else, and chasing the same business as competitors that hit much better than you, maybe you haven’t gotten into your sweet spot yet. Companies have unique DNA and value-to-add as well as individuals. Your primary job is to discover that fit.


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Related blog post: Your Career: Growing, or Shrinking?

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Comments

  1. Steve, you always say it so perfectly. You’re clearly living in your sweet spot. It shows.

  2. Thank you for these simple steps Steve. As an uninitiated Brit, the baseball analogy could have been lost on me – but it isn’t.:-) It’s so true that we “can’t read the label of the jar [we’re] in” – which, I suppose, is why it takes time to find the sweet spot. But it’s definitely worth the effort to keep looking.

Trackbacks

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