I had a dream where I was talking to this super-genius bad guy who just explained and rationalized his super-genius evil plot, the scene for which ended with the following exchange.
Hell, it all comes down to some of the most ancient advice there is! You gotta ganstah yo strengths and soutata the rest!
Yeah. S-O-U-T-A-T-A. Look it up.
This stuck with me for the rest of my dream, since I’ve never heard of that (and I wanted to look it up), such that when I woke up, I struggled to extract from my unconscious this particular portion of the night. With nothing significant from a subsequent Googling, I submitted this transitive verb’s definition to Urban Dictionary. Still waiting.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a few words on some of the most ancient advice there is. Let’s gloss over ‘gangstah yo strengths’, since Tom Rath neatly covers how it feels good to be a-ganstah-ing yo natural talents and skills in his StrengthsFinder 2.0 book. From an economic perspective, leveraging your natural inclination is efficient. Businessy folks would talk about core competencies. Taoist folks might call this active expression of your Tao, your Te. I folks say, “Yep, got it, makes sense, move on, dot org.”
I happen to think the “soutata the rest” part is where we might be trippin’… over ourselves; and just like literally tripping over ourselves, the struggle lies in how we get in our own way. We take a job for the sweet six-figure salary, while enduring the sour 80-hour weeks away from family and friends and self. You want to come out of the closet, but social pressure instead dictates starting a heterosexual family: 2.5 kids, a dog, a Volvo, suburbia. You are indoors all day, sitting in front of a glowing rectangle at a desk, secretly a slave to the glowing rectangle in your pocket/purse, and are too tired at the end of the day to do anything other than crash in front of another glowing rectangle on the wall; yet, you wish you had the time and energy to restore vintage motorcycles outdoors, jam with the band, and craft interior design for dollhouses. And yes, I know somebody who does all this.
Getting in our way isn’t just doing stuff we don’t like instead of what we do like, but stuff we don’t like as well as stuff we do. This is the going out even though you’re exhausted. This is schmoozing and endless small talk with strangers even though it feels fake. This is the uphill battle of learning a new thing you hate, don’t see yourself ever using, and are just doing it ’cause somebody told you to. These are not strengths, but we do them anyway ’cause we feel we have to.
Do you have to? (And don’t you love that question?) Do you absolutely have to? Have you considered the life and death ramifications of simply… not? The opportunity cost is doing something else more fun, exciting, and internally fulfilling, most likely in line with yo strengths. Are you willing to trade your strengths for ‘the rest’? Or do you want to be “the best in the world” (‘world’ meaning some niche market) via strategic quitting as per ‘The Dip‘ by Seth Godin? In light of the gifts unique to you, quitting ‘the rest’ might be the best thing for you.
You gotta ganstah yo strengths and soutata the rest.
C’mon, Urban Dictionary. Accept my submission.