With a set of skills, you don’t need to be the best to excel.
Consider the case of the American Major (NBA) basketball players. Most of them have started honing their basketball skills at a very young age. They spend years training, participating in training camps, competing hundreds of games to develop their basketball, dribbling, passing, defense, and supporting skills to be successful in basketball.
However, the success rate of becoming an American Professional basketball player is extremely low. The tournament has 30 teams with 15 athletes per team, 450 out of 500,000 athletes playing in youth basketball tournaments. Only 1 in 1000 athletes can continue on the professional path.
So be realistic. That you will not be selected for the NBA. That you will not become the President of the United States of America. Nor will you be the greatest writer, chess grandmaster, or the world’s leading orator. There will always be someone who works harder, has more natural talent, has more luck, or has all of that.
Trying to be the best in a certain field or skill is not the smartest path to success. Instead, make an effort to develop a different set of skills. This solution is called the stacking skill, a concept developed by Scott Adams. Here’s how it works.
Years ago, a friend of mine was preparing for the GMAT test. He hopes that he can get into one of the top universities, and getting good grades on the exam is a key step in that process. His number one pick was Stanford, which accepted only 6% of all applicants. This means that he needs to be at least 94th percentile to have a chance of getting it. On the day of the exam, he was very nervous and nervous. He sits in front of the computer in the exam room and looks at his clock. One minute before the exam. Twenty seconds. A second. Begin.
After four tense hours, he finished his exam. However, he could not rest in time because the test results appeared shortly after: He reached the 90th percentile in the math section and the 95th percentile in the written test. “So we’re in the 92nd percentile?” His heart is stiff. Percentile of 92 is not enough. Goodbye Stanford.
However, on closer inspection, he found something else: His overall score was 98 percentiles. What is it? How can this happen?
It turns out that most math heads are pretty bad with words, whereas those who are good at writing are not very comfortable with decimals. So even though my friend was not the one with the highest scores on each section, he was one of the highest scoring people on the overall score.
That’s how the stacking skill works. It’s easier and more effective to have many different skills in the top 10% compared to being in the top 1% with just one specific skill. Take a look at the following chart:
For example, if your city has one million people, and you are in the top 10% six skills, that means 1,000,000 x 10% x 10% x 10% x 10% x 10% x 10% = 1. You are the best in the whole city with these six skills. Now replace with ten different skills? Boom, you are the best in the world with the above 10 skills.
Ideally: Skills should be unique and complementary. Imagine someone who is good at rhetoric, fundraising, writing, persuasion, network building, mass media, and personal charisma. Who could this person be? An outstanding politician. The most successful politicians aren’t really good at a particular skill; instead, they hone the right set of skills to help themselves shine.
This principle applies in all areas. A writer with top prose writing skills is unlikely to be as successful as someone with good writing skills, but knows how to build a brand, can write quickly, and speak well to the public. and know how to communicate, diplomatically with important figures from Publishers.