I’ve never met a successful person who did not build a career on their strengths. It simply does not exist. No one can perform well by doing something they are bad at. Sure, you can improve your weaknesses. But it’s not an effective strategy. Like Peter Drucker says in Managing Oneself:
“It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”
So figure out how you perform. Identify your strengths. Then, go to the next step.
I had just started kindergarten when I discovered I liked words. Mrs. Goldsmith, my kindergarten teacher—and yes, I remember her—would have these fantastic little competitions in spelling. At some point throughout the week she would put little porcelain figurines—that she probably bought for a few cents—in a brown paper bag then ask us to spell a word. If you could spell all the words, she threw at you without making a mistake you’d get the exciting chance to reach blindly into the bag and pull out a piece. I didn’t care about the prize other than it allowed me an opportunity to get my mom a free gift, and so with her as my focus I embarked on a journey of Word Finding.
As I grew older my interests grew in unison. I began seeing the world as my scratch pad and in everything I did I wrote about it, and also wrote about things more colorfully than they actually were. That was the great thing about writing for a kid who became lost in an environment unrelated to my personal beliefs and aspirations.
At twenty (20) I started working for Fads Advertising Agency, which at that time was located in the Bermudiana Arcade in Bermuda. It was my first role as a writer and I hadn’t any education at all to support my ability to write. At the interview I came armed with several pieces of yellow legal paper on which I had written a few poems, but Ms. Cherylann Rowling, the owner, gave me a chance anyway and so just like that I was a copy writer and editor of Bermuda Sports Illustrated magazine.
That career didn’t last too long, things never work out when your boss falls in love with you unrequited. And so I made my way back to California where I took a job as a houseboy for a rich spoiled gay publisher, whose father the Chicago scrap metal owner, had bought him the magazine. I had only been with Lou Levine several weeks, long enough for him to start taking notice in me and I used that idea to nudge my way into the magazine where I was offered a role writing for the Gourmet Guide section of the magazine. This involved going out to dine at predefined venues and then write a review for that week’s issue. During this time my girlfriend Lilly was pregnant with my son Maurice, and didn’t like the fact I always away from home working for this man. Well come Christmas of 1979 Lou wanted me to work my houseboy role with him and his family, I said my wanted to be with my own family and so that was that job over. And after that I just took jobs for the sake of having one to support me and the family, giving up completely in believing that I could continue to pursue a career in writing.
The closest I came to a career in writing was one in sales. Sales had been made up of writing, talking and personality a triumvirate of which I had them in abundance, but with that career came the pressures of loosing, endless meetings, drinking and lots of other headaches. I was lost in the abyss for the sake of earnings. There was no joy, no fulfillment that matter to me most, like enjoyment of writing. There is a place for everyone, and if there isn’t make one up that suits you, but don’t spend a whole lifetime never seeing the sun shine on your dreams. Life is too short to spend it thinking and believing that you have to take what you can while you can for the sake of a dollar or pound. We were not given this life to be punished, we were given life to be glorified in all its splendors.