Good At It

To be good at something is a privilege. It’s a privilege that many toil very hard to achieve.

Malcolm Gladwell famously posited the 10,000-Hour Rule, which he considers to be the key to mastery. With 20 hours of work per week over 10 years, he claims, one can find success in any field.
Though this ‘rule’ has since faced criticism, there is an underlying, simple insight:

Being good at something is valuable!
This quadrant is the only one that offers more readily available validation/checking. The other quadrants are more relative to each individual, but chances are that you will know whether or not you’re good at something, via social standards.

This website is full of skills that can be practiced, for their value in enabling a life of meaning and joy.

When you hire an electrician to fix your broken light at home, you want to know he’s skilled. Skill garners trust, respect, and value. We’re willing to pay a skilled electrician a higher fee than a new electrician-in-training.

At work, one’s skill is like money. The more you have, the more you can do.
When we’re good at something, we accomplish more of what we’re trying to do, or with greater ease.

And like a law of increasing returns, it can propel a person to love their work more, or even to get paid for it.

Who is good at their work?

Who is good at their work?

They come in many shapes and sizes. Some people are quiet and humble, and some are proud of their work and want the world to know.

Being ‘good’ at one’s work may be very subjective. It depends on what the work is. And some jobs have more objective indicators.
Here are a few measures by which one can ask themselves if they’re “good’ at their work.

1 – An Evolution

‘Good At It’ can vary from task to task, and most will follow a pattern of growth over time. Here are some examples of taking work from a start to mastery. Where are you along the way?

< 1 day
1 day
1 week
1 month
3 months
6 months
Playing Guitar
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
A couple chords
Your first song
A few simple tunes
Major Scale, more songs
Scale patterns
Working at a Restaurant
Feel for the menu
You know your coworkers’ names
You get along with your coworkers
You are getting the hang of waiting tables
You know every item on the menu well
You’re a good waiter!
Speaking Spanish
‘Hola, como estas?’
“Hmmm. I think I like this language.”
A few phrases
Class is fun!
You are feeling a well of confidence for your learning.
You can carry a light conversation.
1 year
2 years
3-4 years
5-6 years
7-9 years
10+ years
Playing Guitar
Wrote your first song!
You’re socially engaged, starting to identify as a musician.
You have a refined style, which your friends and family know well.
You’re in a band or have a solo musician career. When others hear you, they trust your expertise.
You find flow in improvisation, and navigate the fret board with ease and fluidity.
Your guitar/music is your voice. A guitar player is who you are, and people who know you know this.
Working at a Restaurant
There’s talk of promoting you to a management position.
You’re a manager!
You’re a GOOD manager. Your customers and coworkers trust you.
This is about more than the restaurant. Your work is a graceful flow of human interaction and service.
The restaurant owner has asked you to open a new branch.
Your restaurant feels like home. You put love and intention into every part of the work, and your customers can feel it.
Speaking Spanish
“I know enough. I wouldn’t say I’m ‘fluent'”.
You’re excited for any chance to talk with native speakers.
You start wondering, “What does fluency really mean? I think I’ve got the hang of this…”
Fluency!
You’ve been offered a translation job.
You dream in Spanish often, and you find yourself thinking in Spanish as easily as your native language.

While time and excellence (“good at it”) often go hand in hand, factors such as focus, deliberate practice, and mentorship can drastically impact what degree of excellence is achieved in X amount of time.

2 – Degrees and Certification

Society values ‘Good At It.’ Especially when it comes to hiring and organizing the workforce, degrees and certification are not only badges of trust for employers; they’re a widely recognized, official way of showing one’s expertise and abilities in a certain field.

Even though the value of a degree now costs more than ever and holds less value than it did, education may still be the most valuable investment you can make. Few things are as valuable as knowledge. Certifications are a stamp of skill-savvy proof, saying “I’m Good At It!”

3 – Market Rate

Again, being good at something is valued by society. And that’s why this quadrant often pairs well with Paid For It. Some work is so specialized that you need to be Good At It to do it at all. Often, these are higher-paying jobs.
Also, time is often related, and not necessarily. For example, a truck driver can make twice as much as a school teacher, with a training time of 8 weeks and 5 years, respectively.

It isn’t a perfect measure, and, it is another metric that offers some information.
If you’re shooting to be good at something, it’s probably useful to ask yourself, “How is this valued by society? What’s the price tag put on it?”

GlassDoor.com is a helpful resource for looking up the going rates of different jobs/careers.

4 – The Outcome

Another metric is the outcome / result of one’s work.
This may be measured in a number of forms in and of itself:

  • popularity
  • number of items produced
  • economic added value
  • safety
  • personal growth
  • ease

The way to measure if you’re ‘good’ at your work varies, and can be a mixture of factors. Sometimes it’s obvious to you and anyone else who works with you.

And, the best guitarist in the world may be a humble mother who practices exclusively alone, in her basement.

At a job, there is often a lot of overlap in skills with the skills of life. Things like Clean Communication, Intentional Speech, Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness…they help us do well with anything involving other people and relating to them.

This site is full of such skills. Check them out here:

Generally, the longer it takes, the more of oneself we bring to the table. Discovery is amplified, and the expression is more you, than anyone or a great many. This is a useful page for browsing various kinds of occupations.

With the “Good At It” aspect, one’s proficiency in their work aids in meeting almost every need indirectly. More directly, it may help with some of these human needs:

appreciation
communication
consideration
consistency
self-respect
understanding

independence
awareness
challenge
contribution
competence
creativity
growth
participation

safety
security
to know and be known
to be seen
inspiration
order

Profession

When we’re good at something, and also Paid For It, (another of the 4 quadrants) we can call it a Profession.

Saying something is one’s profession says little about whether or not they enjoy it or if the world needs it. Simply “I’m good at it, and it’s my job”. It’s likely something a fair number of people can do. It’s likely to have a ‘functionary’ role in society; it needs to happen, and the job is not widely admired. If computers were able to do this job, perhaps in 20+ years, few would miss this kind of job, specifically.

Some examples may be:

  • Sales
  • Advertising
  • A ‘career’

Duty

What isn’t visually explicit on the Bliss Map is the combination made by two opposite quadrants.

When we’re good at something and the World Needs It, we can call it one’s Duty.

When one feels a duty, they feel an obligation to a need larger than themselves, because of how their skills or abilities fit within their framework of what the world needs.
Without concern for Loving It or Getting Paid For It, necessarily, one feels compelled to serve.

As one of our 4 Cornerstones of Meaning, Service is a great way to create a sense of purpose in life. You can read all about Service HERE.

Some examples of one’s duty may be:

  • Volunteer Firefighting
  • Environmental Conservation
  • Community Work
  • ‘Heroism’

Passion

How about when we’re also In Love with our work? (this is another of the 4 quadrants.)

When we are in love with what we do, and also good at it, one might call that passion.
This state often well-describes a project or pursuit one has outside work:

“I spend a lot of time drawing maps of Middle Earth as described in J.R.R. Tolkein novels.”
“Oh yeah? Is that your Job?”
“Naw. It’s just a passion of mine.”

The world doesn’t really need these maps, and it’s unlikely to be paid for that work. Hence, a “passion” is less likely to be a job

Some examples may be:

  • Musicianship
  • Videogames
  • Sports
  • Hobbies
  • Art

Satisfaction

How about when we have all 3? We’re good at it, we love it, and we’re paid for it.

In many ways, this is the satisfaction of finding a ‘great job’. It could be a viable career. Maybe it’s a passion that has since become a job, and now you see that it makes a sustainable career path. But there’s a big picture missing from it.

Let’s explore an example:

You’re a hard-working sales-rep for Magnafox, a television manufacturer and retailer.
Over the years, you’ve studied sales. You got a business degree, and you’ve read extra books outside of your coursework. You even started selling Lemonade as a kid, and have always had knack for it. You’re Good At It.

Every day at work, you interact with people. So much of your job is smiling at others and making them feel welcome and appreciated. You enjoy that. Every day, you love going to work.

Finally, you’ve gotten the job of your dreams. Sure, you often work over 60 hours per week, but Magnafox has great benefits, and the salary is better than any job you’ve ever had.

In the United States, this may be called the American Dream, at least from an economical/capitalistic point of view.
And yet, with this alone, a person is likely to feel something missing.

Each of us possesses a world view in which we hold certain values. Moral or otherwise, we have ideas about what the world ‘needs’. With these values, we hope to act in a way that serves a ‘higher purpose’.
Though this trifecta of good at it, paid for it, in love with it may be called ‘satisfaction’, without contributing to a purpose greater than oneself, we are likely to feel unsatisfied in the long run.

Some possible examples:

  • Being a good businessperson
  • A well-paid, content, productive manager
  • Pop-culture journalists
  • comfortable jobs with no desire out of that
  • A Sommelier

For the over-worked and under ideal-driven ‘satisfied’ person, it may be a feasible goal to work less. More specifically, we can try reserving more time for work and projects that serve a higher cause. We need to do value-driven work. It helps us make sense of our place in the world.

And it can be remarkably powerful in transforming our own lives. A 2013 study on addiction found that one of the most influential factors for individuals overcoming addiction was “service to others.”

When someone asks us “What do you do?”, we want to be able to tell them about work that reflects our world view.

“I do _____ because I care about _____ and the state of _____ in the world.”

In Love With It Good At It Paid For It The World Needs It Passion Profession Vocation Mission Satisfaction Comfort Contentment Fulfillment Bliss Fulfillment Satisfaction Comfort Contentment

Example Profiles

The following examples are to highlight how different people, even under the same circumstances, have highly individualized profiles on the Bliss Map. There is no one way to live a good life.

People working the same job can have very different Bliss Maps.

Rashad is a journalist. He loves his job and always has. In fact, his hobby is independent journalism projects. On any given day, he is filling at least 70% of each quadrant on his ideal Bliss Map.

Amanda is also a journalist. She gets paid for it, is good at it, and loves doing the work most of the time. However, the job doesn’t fit with her values. She feels that she’s contributing to noise and muddying truth, rather than clarifying it to the public. That quadrant of her Bliss Map is usually lacking.

Jeff, too, is a journalist. He’s usually happy with his job, but isn’t good at it. He likes the work, except when it’s overwhelming. He hasn’t thought about whether the world needs it, since it’s just to pay the bills. To supplement this work on his Bliss Map, he has a side hustle volunteering with a local homeless shelter, which he loves and is good at.

And people working different jobs can have similar Bliss Maps.

Gerald is a manager at a fast food restaurant. He loves his work, but doesn’t get paid well enough to pay all his bills. He is good at it as well, but doesn’t see the point of it. Except for the occasional smile he puts on someone’s face, when his ‘World Needs It’ quadrant flares, his Bliss Map is usually wanting for more at this job.

Matt is managing production for a small electronics company. He’s good at his work and loves it, and it meets his needs financially. Even though the world doesn’t ‘need’ the company’s product, his coworkers need hope and friendliness. So this job usually fares well on his Bliss Map.

Sheryl manages an ice cream stand. She’s good at her job, and likes that it gives people a cold treat on a hot day. It pays her bills too. Unfortunately, she hates the work. It’s boring. So, she satisfies this part of her bliss map by passing the time reading between customers, and she looks forward to that every day.