Do You Know Too Much?

When George told his dad that he was going to get his Master’s degree, his dad said, “Be careful, son … you don’t want to get so educated that no one can use you!”

Is your knowledge a blessing or a curse?

The curse of knowledge
It seems that as our knowledge and experience increase, our creativity and innovation decrease. When you become an expert in a field, you risk losing the innovation that probably got you there. That’s the curse of knowledge!

That leads to some strange things … for example, why do you have to go to “start” to shut off your computer? Techies understand that. However, to the average person, it doesn’t make sense at all.

Group think often results when experts collaborate. As long as you only involve people just like yourself, you end up with things like going to “start” to finish.

The sign of the curse
Have you tried reading a book written by an expert in a field new to you? Or gone to a web site that’s outside your area of expertise? What did you see? Perhaps it was like reading a foreign language. It was jargon – the sign of the curse.

Maybe you’ve sat in a room of people, all speaking jargon. At some point, you asked a question! Gasp! Do you remember the looks? You don’t know it all! Gasp (again)!

If you find that your speech is full of jargon, you may know too much!

New discoveries
Something interesting happens as novices ask questions. The experts are forced to explain their subject simply – from the perspective of a newbie. In the process, the experts often discover new ways to look at the same old problems.

So why do so many people only hang out with people just like them? Because it’s comfortable. It’s good for your ego to feel like you’re part of such a prestigious group. Your input is valued when you’re in your area of expertise talking with other experts.

A good problem within limits
We’re certainly not suggesting that you don’t want to be an expert in your chosen field. In fact, the opposite is true – seek first to be an expert!

Then you can have the problem we’re talking about here – it’s a good one to have! But recognize that your creativity and innovative tendencies are often limited when you’re an expert.

So how can you remain creative when you’re an expert?

  • Make some new friends, outside of your field.

Or reconnect with some old friends, outside of your inner circle of experts like you. People you don’t converse with much anymore because you’re too busy! Mingle with people who have a variety of experiences. You’ll learn things from them that that will help you be more innovative again.

  • Get a hobby, especially a creative one.

We wrote an article recently, Does Your Hobby Work For You It highlights a study of Nobel laureates. That’s a pretty innovative group, wouldn’t you say? The researchers found that about one percent of all scientists claimed some leisure pursuit. They were surprised to learn that over fifty percent of the Nobel Prize winners had a serious hobby! So get out of your “lab” and get your creative juices flowing again.

Sometimes, it pays to listen to novices

Cynthia Barton Rabe wrote a book called The Innovation Killer: How What We Know Limits What We Can Imagine… And What Smart Companies Are Doing About It. She tells the story about an executive who was with Ralston Purina when they bought out Eveready. Eveready had successfully marketed flashlights for years, but now the business was very mature.

This was the mid-1980s. Eveready sold their flashlights through hardware stores and lumber yards. They offered two colors – red and metal. The transferred executive suggested new colors – pink, light blue, and light green. These colors would appeal to women, she argued. Gasp! The experts only looked at her with dismay.

She suggested that the flashlights be distributed through grocery stores! Gasp! Fortunately, she sold the decision-makers on her idea. The result – bigg sales! You’re the expert.

Keep in mind that sometimes that’s a curse. Be open to new ideas, even from novices!

Our bigg quote today comes from William Shakespeare.

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

If you know at all, you’ll know that you don’t know it all.

Next time, we’ll discuss climbing the stairway to … success. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/biggsuccess/00045-011108.mp3

Getting The Credit You Deserve

We’re not talking about credit cards here! We’ll discuss a somewhat common problem – what to do when you’re doing most of the work, but getting very little credit.      

Vicki e-mailed us with a bigg challenge – she recently worked on a major project at work. It was a bigg success – okay, she didn’t say that, but we couldn’t resist! Management is thrilled. Her problem – her supervisor is taking all the credit. Vicki wants to know what to do to get the recognition she deserves.

Here’s what we recommend to Vicki:
Put it in perspective
Don’t forget the old saying: It’s amazing how much gets accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. The fact is you know that you worked on this project and that it was very successful. Enjoy it! You helped your company … you contributed.

Ask yourself if you’re inflating your role? Sometimes we give ourselves more credit than we deserve, especially on successful projects. Make sure that’s not the case. However, from reading Vicki’s e-mail, it doesn’t appear that’s the situation here.

We live in a highly competitive world. You’re a hard worker. You’ve been a part of a successful campaign. Strive to get the credit you deserve. That helps your standing in your company. It makes your job more secure.

If you don’t promote yourself, no one else will.
We’re not talking about walking around telling everyone how great you are. Don’t undermine your boss. Just understand that you need to make sure you’re recognized for your contributions.

Document, document, document.
As you’re working on projects in the future, keep written notes as things progress. Give credit where credit is due for ideas, participation, and implementation. Follow up – after meetings, face-to-face conversations, and phone calls – with a written record of “your understanding” of the conversation. Get agreement on the facts from your supervisor and/or co-workers.

For the project you just completed, consider writing out your role in the project. Ask your supervisor to review it. Tell him that you recorded the details while they were fresh in your mind. You’re going to put it in your file for your next review.

Don’t just write down what you did – include what you learned. Your company provides you with opportunities for growth. Pat your company on the back for that!

One more thought on documentation – don’t forget to add this project to your resume!

Address the situation at the proper time in the proper way.
The proper time is AFTER you have documentation on your role in a project. Then, if your manager fails to give you the credit you deserve, you’re ready to address it in the proper way.

That means having a conversation, not a confrontation. You won’t accomplish anything by attacking him. Report on the situation with as little emotion as you can possibly muster. Keep this two-point outline in mind –

(1) This is what happened      (2) Here’s how it makes me feel.

You may start with a discussion of the project, what you’re most proud of, and what you learned for next time. Then, you might say something like:

“In our meeting yesterday, when this project was discussed, I don’t feel I was given the credit I deserve. It makes me feel unappreciated.”

You’re not putting your boss on the defensive by saying that. You’re simply, and properly, trying to resolve an issue.

Good luck, Vicki! Thanks for sharing your bigg challenge with us.

What’s your biggest challenge right now? E-mail it to us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com

Do you have a suggestion for Vicki? Share it with us in the Comments below.

Our Bigg Quote today is more of a riddle …

Why is Christmas just like a day at the office? 
Because you do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit!

You may be an elf now, but if you remember to elf-promote, you’ll be elf-satisfied!

Come back tomorrow to find out if your knowledge is a blessing or a curse. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Related Links:

When A Co-Worker Bad Mouths You

Freedom Or Security – Which Do You Choose?

Let’s start with some definitions of what we’re talking about when we say freedom and security.

When we talk about security here, we’re talking about things like your personal financial security or job security. Freedom means financial freedom and career freedom.

Many experts say that it’s a trade-off – you have to choose one or the other. We want to examine that today.

So here are a few questions –
Given the definitions above, when we say “security”, what do you think?
If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking things like “a regular paycheck”, “an annual salary increase”, and “no fear of losing my job.”

What do you think when we say “freedom?”
You might say “creative control”, “no money worries”, “set my own schedule”, and “be my own boss.”

Which one is more fun to think about?
Freedom, of course! In fact, most people tend to smile when thinking about freedom. Thinking about security doesn’t yield the same emotions.

If that’s the case, why do we spend so much time worrying about security and so little time planning for freedom?
That’s a good question, isn’t it? Of course, you might say it’s because you have bills to pay and a family to take care of.

What if you could have both freedom and security?
Isn’t that ideal? Before we offer some suggestions on how to make that happen, we want you to think about how secure that job truly is.

Think about two scenarios –
Scenario 1: You’re an employee with an employer.
Think of your employer as your customer. Think of the services you provide to your employer as your business. Now, look carefully at that … isn’t that what a job really is?

How many customers do you have?               One.
What happens if you lose that customer?      You lose all your income.
How secure is that?                                            It’s not.

Scenario 2: You’re self-employed.
Now picture yourself in your own business with five customers. To keep it simple, assume that each of these customers gives you exactly the same amount of business.

What happens if you lose one?                        You only lose 20% of your income.

So which one is more secure?

Ah, but you protest – with your job comes unemployment insurance and/or a contract with severance pay!

That’s true. However it doesn’t change how you will feel when you realize that your job is being eliminated or you’re being let go for any number of reasons. Wouldn’t you rather live a life free from that concern? To do that, you need more than one source of income … you need multiple “customers.”

2 ways to get started having both freedom and security:

#1: Start a business part-time.
Your part-time business may be related to what you already do, or it may not. If it’s related, make sure you’re not violating any company policies.

How do you get started in business? Get a customer! Now, you’ve diversified your income. Then get another … now you’re even better off!

Hopefully, the income from your part-time business grows to exceed your full-time salary. Now you’re free and secure!

#2: Invest aggressively.
You don’t have to start your own business to have the freedom we’re talking about. Start setting aside money each month into your “freedom fund.” Invest it wisely and over time, you’ll see your passive income start to grow.

When your passive income equals your salary from your full-time job, you’re free and secure. If this strategy interests you, check out Getting Aggressively Passive.

Considering a career change?
Subscribe to the FREE Bigg Success Weekly newsletter to help you plan it and inspire you to go for it. Sign up now and get the Bigg Goal-Setters Workbook. It’s FREE, too!

Our Bigg Quote today is by Alan Cohen, the great author.

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

Don’t let a false sense of security hold you back. Ultimately, true security comes from the freedom you find when you pursue your dreams with passion.

Next time, we’ll answer a question from one of our listeners. She’s doing most of the work, but getting little of the credit. We’ll discuss how to get the credit you deserve.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Your Personal SWOT Analysis (Part II)

Yesterday, we began this discussion of SWOT analysis. Today we want to continue it by talking about the last half of SWOT: Opportunities and Threats.

So far, everything we’ve discussed has been internal – focused just on you. Your strengths. Your weaknesses. Now we’re ready to bring in the external forces.

Take a tip from entrepreneurs when you’re trying to find your opportunity. Entrepreneurs know:

Where there’s change, there’s likely to be growth.
And where there’s growth, there’s opportunity.

So look for change to find your opportunity. For instance, the baby boom has been changing markets in the United States for years. Now they’re starting to retire. This is creating huge opportunities in health care, travel, and home services, among others.

In fact, many of the hottest careers in the coming years are centered on the needs of the baby boomers as they retire. Many new businesses will succeed bigg by serving them as well.

This is just one example of changes that occur that create opportunities. But opportunities are only half the picture. You also need to consider the threats.

Ask yourself, “What could happen that would significantly affect you if you choose this career?” Because here’s a little tip about change:

Change creates opportunities in new fields while destroying existing ones.

Let’s look at a famous example from early last century. If your chosen career involved nearly anything to do with carriages, you were in trouble with the advent of the automobile. Technological change is probably the main driver of changes like this. However, changes in industries also occur due to things like consolidation, outsourcing, and more.

Mary-Lynn shared her career experience. She loves radio, but with the internet and consolidation in the industry, it’s harder to find good opportunities than it used to be. Change is creating destruction.

At the same time, the internet and new media are presenting opportunities for people with skills like hers – opportunities to build your own content and brand. Change is creating growth.

Mary-Lynn found her path to peace of mind. She started with finding her passion. Then, with her core values in mind, she did a SWOT analysis, which prompted her to change careers, while still using all of her talents and experience.

Putting it all together
When you’re done with your SWOT analysis, you should have a number of possible fits. Don’t make the mistake of only looking at compensation. That’s part of the picture, but certainly not the only thing.

We have a friend who accepted a job because it paid so much. She told us that she knew it didn’t fit her passion; it was in an industry that she wasn’t particularly excited about. But it was so much money! Soon, she found she hated her job. She was unhappy all the time – even at home. Money isn’t everything!

You know where you are now. You’ve visualized your dream life so you know where you want to be. All you have to do is choose the best path to get there!

The Bigg Goal-Setters Workbook will help you do just that!
It’s free when you sign up for our free weekly newsletter!

Our Bigg Quote today comes from Douglas Everett.

“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some
who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.”

The world needs more dreamers, but even more … the world needs more doers that make their dreams come true.

Next time, we’ll discuss freedom and security. Experts say that you can’t have both; you have to choose one or the other. We’ll ask the question … why can’t you have both?

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Related Links:

Your Personal SWOT Analysis (Part I)

Visualize The Life You Want

Live Your Dream With Purpose

Your Personal SWOT Analysis (Part I)

Today and tomorrow, we’ll discuss your personal SWOT analysis. In case you’re not familiar with it, SWOT is an acronym for …

Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities
Threats

SWOT analysis has been used for years by companies as part of their strategic planning process. More recently, individuals have seen the value for using it to plan their own lives, as well.

This blog is a follow-up to these prior posts:

Back To The Future: Visualizing The Life You Want (Part 2) 

We asked you, “If neither time nor money was an issue, how would you spend your time and your money? This is all about discovering your passion … your dream.

Live Your Dream With Purpose – Part I

We followed that series of shows up by talking about core values. What’s important to you?

So now we’re ready to go to the next level. Now we’re going to bring back the constraints – time and money. Back to reality!

Today, we’ll tackle the first two parts of SWOT analysis – strengths and weaknesses.

But first, a little tidbit …

Did you know that …
 … part of Albert Einstein’s brain was abnormally large?
… another part of his brain was unusually small?

Which part was larger than normal, you ask? That area used for math and spatial intelligence. You probably could have guessed that, right? Can you guess the part that was quite small? It was the area used for linguistics.

Most children start talking between the ages of one and two. Einstein, who is generally regarded as one of the smartest people ever, didn’t start talking until he was three!

He failed a language exam when he was 16. He was known to be a terrible lecturer. He was not a cunning linguist! So what’s the moral of the story?

Be thankful for your weaknesses because
they may be the source of your strengths!

How do you uncover your strengths? Answer this question:

What do you find easy to do that others find difficult?

If you find that question difficult to answer, you know that answering questions isn’t one of your strengths! Just kidding! Seriously, we often overlook those things that come easy to us. We take them for granted.

Ask your friends and family what they think your strengths are. Tell them you’re looking for an objective opinion to help you understand yourself better. You’ll find their answers quite interesting.

To discover your weaknesses, answer the question in reverse:

What do you find difficult that seems to come easily to others?

Once again, if you’re having difficulty answering this question, ask people you trust for their opinion. Assure them that you truly appreciate their counsel because you’re discovering how to improve yourself.

On the show, Mary-Lynn and George shared their strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths
Mary-Lynn said that “audio production” is something she’s always found easy to do.

George said he’s always been relatively comfortable with “money and finance.”

Weaknesses
Mary-Lynn acknowledged that “numbers” are not her bag. That’s why she pursued a career that tapped her creativity.

George confessed that “orderliness” is his biggest weakness. It’s nice to know that Ben Franklin confessed to the same shortcoming! He said it was the hardest of his thirteen virtues to get right! Read our recent article about that here.

Our Bigg Quote today comes from the author and poet Joyce C. Lock, who simply said:

“Build upon strengths, and weaknesses will gradually take care of themselves.”

Only the strong survive, but if you know your weaknesses, and utilize your strengths, you’ll not only survive … you’ll thrive!

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Next time, we’ll continue on this thread – we’ll talk about the second half of SWOT –

 Opportunities and Threats.

We’ll also discuss how to put all the pieces, including your passion and purpose, together.

In the meantime, Mary-Lynn is off to balance her checkbook. And George is cleaning up his desk! Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00041-010708.mp3

Related Links:

Visualize The Life You Want

Live Your Dream With Purpose

Ben Franklin's Thirteen Virtues

Ben Fraklin’s Thirteen Virtues Chart (pdf)