Saturday, 7 November 2009

Multiply your strengths to become the greatest!

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts"
- Aristotle, Greek philosopher

Michael Jackson was probably the best-known performer of all times. He was a singer, dancer, songwriter and performer all at once, and no other artiste can match his stature in the entertainment scene since. He possessed an incredible and distinctive voice, he could write his own songs, his dance moves were legendary and his rapport with the crowd was unbeatable. The world had never seen a performer like Michael Jackson, and it is doubtful that we’ll see someone like him any time soon…

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computers, has an incredible life story. Voted by Fortune Magazine as the “CEO of the decade” just yesterday, Jobs founded Apple in the late 70s and was dismissed from his own company in 1985 following a power struggle with the board of directors. He started a couple of businesses (including the computer animation company PIXAR), which were purchased by Apple and he was reinstated as the CEO 12 years later after he was fired. Since then, Steven Jobs revolutionized the music and mobile phone industries with Apple iTunes and iPhones.

Behind the dramatic rollercoaster life events, Steve Jobs is essentially a technologist, designer, businessman and most importantly – a visionary. He’s very much in tune with the latest technology, he loves design (he took calligraphy lessons in college which lead to Mac systems having superior font types), and his business acumen is stunning based on his track record.

And if I were to mention “famous martial artist”, more than half the people asked will immediately think of Bruce Lee. The late Hong Kong movie star was probably best known for his martial arts prowess, followed by his career as a movie star. Bruce was also a philosopher when it comes to the study of martial arts. It was well known that Bruce pioneered his own blend of martial arts Jeet Kune Do by studying and distilling the other martial art forms which he was familiar with. Just like Michael Jackson, Bruce Lee was a phenomenon that stirred the world like never before.

The people I have listed above are doubtlessly incredibly talented, motivated individuals and celebrated as icons. They are considered to be the best in their respective fields, and their works either become the benchmark standards or stand as a legacy of their achievements. However, they compete in areas that are packed with talented individuals. What makes the list of people stand out amongst their competitors? Why are they regarded as exceptional individuals instead of others?

The answer lies in their incredible mix of talents – not just isolated talents, but in the way they have combined and fused their talents to exponentially increase their value. If Michael Jackson had just been a great singer, he would just be one of the numerous notable singers in the world. If Bruce Lee had not combined his love of martial arts and movies, he’d just be another martial artist master. If Steve Jobs did not have a love for design, he’d just be another technologist churning out run-of-the-mill machines instead of great products to change our lives.

So the next time you read about someone exceptional, think deeper about why they stand out amongst those who are merely good at what they’re doing. In all likelihood, the truly fantastic possesses a combination of traits that let them excel ahead of their field. Likewise, you can step ahead of the competition by looking at your strengths and weaknesses, and work not just on reducing your soft points, but on cultivating strengths that will catapult you right ahead of everyone else.

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