It is a commonly perpetuated fallacy that Albert Einstein was a failure at school. Yes, he did not do well in history and geography, but he was exceptionally brilliant at his favorite subjects: physics and mathematics. The punchline: Albert Einstein went on to become the greatest physicist of all times. So no, he wasn’t an academic failure; he just chose his niche early on and turned it into an enduring, lifelong career.
Following the footsteps of Albert Einstein, you can also choose a career niche for yourself. But first let us understand what a niche means and why is important to pick one. A niche is a natural ability or a specific skill that you are good at. All living beings have some peculiar niches: plants can turn sunlight into food, photosynthesis is their niche; lions can chase down and devour gazelles, hunting is their niche.
Unlike animals who possess a very narrow set of skills, we humans have the luxury of being able to choose a niche from a wide variety of options; we can even polish our talents. While we can select and refine our niche, it is advisable to take this step at an early stage of your career; this will enable to channel your limited personal resources: time, energy, attention etc. towards your chosen career objectives.
The following five lessons are intended to outline the steps you can take to land on your niche:
Lesson One: Identify Your Passion(s)
I have a simple rule for identifying your passion: is there some activity that makes you forget your lunch? Is there some thought that inadvertently creeps to your mind as you wake up in the morning? If yes, that activity, that thought most likely could be your passion. You may have numerous passions and it often gets hard to narrow down to a couple, but it is extremely important to reduce to a few.
Lesson Two: Translate Your Passions into A Marketable Skill
Once you have identified your passion(s), the next step is to evaluate if one or more of them can be useful to anyone. Can you use them to solve anyone’s problems? For instance, if your passion is ticket collection, it is much likely that no one will find this useful. On the other hand, if you are passionate about computers, you may develop software to solve some problems for your friends and acquaintances. Select a passion that could be a marketable skill.
Lesson Three: Seek Honest Feedback
You may be interested in a field and that field might have reasonable market demand, but are you really good at it? Do some self-reflection; ask some trusted fellow for a candid feedback. Are you willing to invest time, energy, and possibly money to hon your skills in that field? If the answer is no, drop this as a niche and pick something else; repeat the process until you got to a single niche you are passionate about and either you are good at it or are ready to improve upon.
Lesson Four: Stop Thinking, Start Working
A lot of people get to the stage where they have a clear understanding of their passion and how can they transform that into a marketable skill but then they stop there. They keep making plans and continue postponing them. They don’t start the actual work until one day they realize that they no longer have the time and energy to pursue that niche. Don’t let this happen to you; once you are clear about your niche, start working on it (mind you, just thinking is not working!).
Lesson Five: Do Not Expect Immediate Results
While some people do start the actual work, they fail to recognize that success takes time. Our media often portrays successful people as smart people; however, a vast majority of successful people are both smart and hardworking. You may be brilliant at something but still you would need perseverance and persistence to reach the summit; and if you are not ready to persevere, don’t even pick a niche. You are good the way you are!