I chatted with a female cashier at a busy wholesale supermarket today. She told me that she had had only four days training before she got her job! This woman really impressed me. She chatted effortlessly with me as she methodically checked out each and every item. Some items were very heavy which demanded increased physical exertion from her part. There were lots of items! She checked out each and every one of them like a true perfectionist. This young lady worked with a smile on her face and without any loss of enthusiasm. She appeared mentally and physically fit for her purpose. Did she really learn these skills in only four days? Or did she possess some prior internal attributes which were already part of her original make-up? I wondered.
I started to think about ‘fitness for purpose’ on my way home.
The skills we don’t learn from textbooks
There are skills which we don’t learn at schools or universities. These rare skills are those which are required for day-to-day functioning. Creativity, Persistence, Curiosity, Grit, Tenacity, Initiative, Leadership and Positive Attitude are but a few examples of such skills. So where do we learn these skills?
Are you physically and mentally ‘fit’ for your purpose?
Sport can teach us a lot of these skills. But not everyone plays sport. The way you were raised at home can teach you some of these skills. But not everyone was raised equally well. Relationships can teach you some of these skills. But not everyone is in a relationship. Your religion can teach you some of these skills. But not everyone is religious. So where does one learn physical and mental ‘fitness’?
Can we become ‘fitter’?
How do we become fitter? We train. We practice. We make time. We immerse ourselves in the discipline. We try and live the discipline. We try and breathe the discipline. If we train hard for most situations, then we will surely be able to handle most situations.
But this theory still did not make sense to me, because the young woman cashier had only four days training! It was then that I realized she must have had some other advantage. It was her, the person, which made her excellent. It was her beliefs, her character and her work ethic which made her excellent!
When it comes to excellence, your belief, your character and your work ethic are the three traits which are probably what’s going to save you or sink you:
BELIEF: Actually believing in what you do.
CHARACTER: Your character automatically “shines through”. There is nothing you can do about your character. It is there. It is who you are.
WORK ETHIC: This means your perseverance. This means your ability to endure and persist. This means your ability to go from failure-to-failure without any loss of enthusiasm. means your ability to continue professionally and not quit.
The ultimate litmus test
You can study sales and marketing, but sooner-or-later you are going to actually have to actually sell something. You can study design, but sooner-or-later you are going to have to design something which sells. You can study science, but sooner-or-later you are going to have to science-the-shit-out of-something.
The world is the ultimate litmus test. Teaching and training goes a long way to provide you with your foundation. But at the end of the day, it is your belief in yourself; your character and your work ethic which will fuel your ascent to excellence.