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Think broad. Aim narrow.

Today I want to talk to you about building optionality.

I don't know about you, but as an overthinker (granted, a recovered one LOL), I like to think I have things under control.

The idea of relying on other people to get things done gives me anxiety. And the idea that I have to depend on one single thing, place, job, location, person to reach my goals and get to where I want to get, baffles me.

It might sound idealistic, I know, but I like to think my destiny is mine to make.

Albeit, there are things one can't control and probably also shouldn't, but most things in our life are mainly our own decision to make.

Change often, change fast.

The common belief is that if you choose one path in life - say you want to become a lawyer - you need to stick with it for life.

But what if you don't enjoy it? What if the world changes and doesn't need lawyers anymore? What if at 40 you realise you have a unique talent for baking cakes and you want to build a business of that?

Sometimes, specialization can be a golden cage.

But life should be all about choices and options to choose from.

Like a painter looking at their colour palette and deciding on which shades of colour to use on their painting, you should also be able to build on a set of varied skills and talents to work with and draw from throughout your life.

Ultimately, we all want to be successful in life.

What success means, is very subjective and can also evolve throughout life. My notion of success today is fundamentally different than what I thought it was 5 or 10 years ago.

The flexibility to make the right (and hard, sometimes) decisions at the right time is key in order to thrive.

Pivoting to something new, when things don't add up, is what separates success from failure.

Building optionality.

Let's face it, that job you so enjoy now might be gone tomorrow.

That business that you invest so much time and effort in, might not work.

That career path that you embarked on when you were 18, might now seem a golden cage you desperately want to escape.

So in these type of situations, the question that we often ask ourselves is "if not this, then what?".

No back up plan -> no options -> anxiety -> burn out.

Building optionality in life is what drives the best results. Always.

Many options, less risk.

If you were a business, would you feel confident in investing into just one product segment, or would you want a diversified portfolio of investments to keep the business going?

Most people would answer the latter, right?

So why do we, as people, feel a single big investment into one specific area makes sense? How profitable would this decision be for us long term?

Instead, you can look at yourself as a brand or a business and ask yourself:

  • what am I good at?

  • what are my skills?

  • what talents do I have?

  • what can I still learn and develop?

Now, some of these questions will reflect your current professional situation (i.e. I am good at marketing, so I have a marketing job), but some other skills are not applicable to what you typically do.

Say you are a great backer - how are you using this skill outside of your job?

What if you also have a great skill at sketching but you don't need to use it that much?

Or how about if you are great with numbers, are helping friends & family to do their tax returns in your free time, but your day job is being a product manager?

The point is, we all have hidden talents and skills that we don't use because our day jobs don't require them, so we typically put them away in a box and don't think much of them.

What if, instead, we would use them all, in different ways, all the time?

What if, we would look at ourselves as a whole and not in small pieces, seeing all the options opening up in front of us once we are aware of all our talents?

This is exactly what a generalist does - generalists are big-picture thinkers, bringing all the puzzle pieces together.

And we can all do that, in our own personal way.

Of course some things needs specialization, but keeping our individual options broad will save us a lot of heartaches over time.

In summary,

Spend more time: 👉 dabbling, exploring and learning. 👉 building overlapping experiences, one leading to the other. 👉 broadening your knowledge across many topics and testing them all out. 👉 interacting with many different kinds of people, across different fields. Because, listen, the world is changing.

Fast. In completely unexpected ways. And in today's volatile environment, your best bet might be to know just enough, about many different topics, so you can capitalise on the right skill at the right time.

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