I have just been listening to a podcast. That’s not unusual. This one was by Ivan Misner. It was a short podcast entitled “What’s in the way, becomes the way.” In it, he recalled that his teachers at school criticised him for speaking too much in class. As the founder of BNI, he now earns his living by speaking. He addresses and coaches groups of all sizes all around the world. His efforts have taken BNI from an office in his garage to a multinational network of chapters.

In his words, what was once a problem, perceived as an impediment to progressing his education and career, became his greatest asset, and a major contributor to his success.

My initial reaction was that this had no relevance to me in any way. Then I remembered. When I was at school I found subjects like geography, history, and the like pretty boring, so for quite a long time, out of sight of the teacher, I had a numbers game. It was very simple. I started with a 1, doubled it, doubled the answer, and so on until, to end up with, my answer was 30+ characters long. Mindless really, but I found it more rewarding than listening to my teachers. This is probably why my grades in the end were not that good.

Now, I make my living with numbers. But I would not say it is the way I earn my living but it is an important tool and one that I find rewarding. These numbers may be in an Excel spreadsheet, producing forecasts, they could be in the numbers that we use to review and analyse a client’s business performance, they may be in the tax computations that we use to try to minimise a client’s taxes. The numbers are just a tool, albeit fundamental to everything interesting that we now do.

Here’s a question for you. I have failed more than my share of exams over the years. There was a time when I had failed more exams than I had passed. That started to change from about the age of 17. That did not stop me failing my driving test twice before passing on the third attempt. But after that, I seemed to be more focused on results.

I sat one O Level subject 4 times before passing it. That was “Religious Knowledge”. What does that say about me? You might suggest that I was dogged or just plain stupid, but I got it in the end. Did it make me religious? Not at all. Me and religion have coexisted over the years but we are not close friends.

I think that I now grasp what was behind Ivan Misner’s comments. If you can take your true nature and capitalize on that, you are using something that comes naturally to you and therefore will be more motivated to succeed. If you start to believe, because people tell you, that you have a problem, then you will have a lifelong problem that you are trying to overcome, dragging you down.

So, what terrible thing is in your nature, is in your DNA, and so feels so rewarding. What has everyone criticised you for, or drummed into you as a problem? Maybe, if used correctly, it could be your greatest asset.

I’m not sure that snoring can be turned into an asset, but you never know!


Alan E Long

The Long Partnership

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