What’s your Party Piece? Being insanely good at something is the root of career success

Personal BrandMy Aunt Moya was a nun, a nursing sister who spent all her life taking care of old folks in a geriatric hospital just outside Paris. Moya was a formidable lady – having done a stint as the Mother Superior at one point.  In her later years she didn’t hold any post of responsibility but continued to work as a nurse well into her 80’s. She had sort of adopted the 10 kids in our family and we were quite close, albeit because of travel restrictions in her community, we only met every couple of years.

Paris Trip:
When Moya died, my sister Teresa went to Paris to represent our family at the funeral. She stood in a small mortuary chapel, surrounded by nuns all dressed in formal attire. Moya was well loved and her ‘niece’ was an important visitor. At some point in the proceedings, one of the nuns suggested: “Go on Teresa. Sing a little Irish song for Mother Gertrude (Moya’s religious name) before she passes on”. Now Teresa, by her own admission, can’t sing a note and was mortified. The other nuns thought this was a great idea and joined in. “Yes, she loved music. Do her proud”. Not wanting to let the team down, but not knowing the lyrics of a single song, my sister burst into an off-key rendition of “For he’s a jolly good fellow” (and so say all of us). Most of the nuns, working through English as their 2nd language, thought this was a great ditty and joined in heartily with the chorus. Teresa said it was one of those moments when: “You’d just wish the ground would open up and swallow you”.

Party Piece:
So, what’s your Party Piece? I’m not talking about having to sing at funerals. What is it that you are insanely good at? What is your standout quality? In the workplace, what do you bring to the party? Because, the chances are, if you can’t answer that question, no-one else will be able to answer it either. Generally it’s Mission Impossible to hit the career jackpot if your personal brand is unknown. If you haven’t been discovered yet, this is down to poor marketing on your part, not some in-built fault of the succession planning system or a HR deficit. Career success is a combination of being excellent in some particular area – and – having the marketing nous to let the world know this. Now, which part of that equation do you need to work on?

 

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