The Combo

I’m pretty good at a lot of things. I’m a good programmer, a good blogger, a good writer, a good poker player and so on. Am I one of the BEST programmers in the world? Nope, not even close. Best bloggers in the world? Again, no. Writer? Not within miles of it. Poker player? Middling.

There’s a type of bet in sports called a parlay. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a bet on multiple events. To get paid off, you have to be right on all of them. So maybe the 49ers have to win their game, the Patriots have to win theirs, and the Steelers have to win their game. Even if every event is pretty likely to happen– say fifty percent to make the math easy, the odds of all three happening are pretty slim. One in eight. Because it’s rare for all of the events to happen in the same way, you get paid off proportionally well.

In the same way, combinations of skills are extremely rare and valuable. I may not be the best at any of those things, but I doubt you can find someone who is as good at all four combined as I am. That’s not because I’m amazing, it’s just because we’ve all picked a handful of things that we specialize in. You might be the best juggling / running / physicist in the world.

Luckily very few things in this world require only one skill. Even things that seem like they do, like painting, also require storytelling, marketing, social skills, etc. In the infinite world of possible paths, we all have the opportunity to use our set of specialties and change the game so that the winner is the person who has those skills.

In my case, my shortcomings as a programmer are made up by the fact that I know blogging really well. I know what matters to bloggers and what makes the blogging experience a good one. I can use my writing skills to write copy and emails, and to clearly communicate what SETT is about when I’m presenting it to someone. Poker may seem irrelevant, but gambling has made me very good at making decisions and conserving my bankroll. It has also made me comfortable with risk– to where going all in on this project and dipping into my savings doesn’t freak me out or make me compromise.

I’m built for this project, because I built myself and then I picked the project I wanted to do. You can do this, too. It’s just a matter of knowing what you’re best at (or training in several areas that interest you), and focusing your effort on things that leverage those strengths.

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Photo is from a cedar forest in Chiba, Japan.

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