Finding Your Niche – Part 2
When we left off in part one, I posed a few questions for consideration. The goal was to help you identify the motivations fueling your current path, as well as encouragement to look for indications of a particular niche. The parting thought in the last post was that, “the purpose of life is to come into harmony with the gifts and talents you possess. Doing so will reveal a “purpose” that will resonate powerfully within you.”
This is where a niche begins. As you remain committed, or anchored, to your purpose, you find strength to “stay the course.” This strength enables you to progress steadily along a defined path filled with validating successes and educating challenges that work together to expand your knowledge. You develop a greater capacity to influence through that knowledge. The experiences you encounter teach you about your abilities, your passions, and your weaknesses. The key is progression: advancement toward a worthy objective. As you pursue this course, you receive feedback and knowledge in the form of trial and error. You adopt the knowledge and make adjustments to advance more efficiently towards the objective. If the objective you pursue is misaligned with your natural drivers and talents, then that will become clear at some point during the enterprise. When that happens, “staying the course” becomes foolish—all indicators tell you to move in another direction, a direction that now is much clearer on account of the feedback you’ve received from the “failed” enterprise.
Often, a lack of progress is caused not by misalignment between your drivers/talents and the enterprise but rather by having an unclear objective, or lack of purpose. We think we know what we want but adversity easily throws us off-course. In confusion, we change direction in hopes of discovering a less painful path, but if the new direction lacks purpose, it is probably a mistake as well. Progress and fulfillment come from a clearly defined objective. As Mark Twain wisely stated: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.”
I have discovered that every niche is comprised of three components: the design, the purpose, and the objective. The design is you—your talents and your passions. Understanding your design is paramount to aligning with your purpose. For example, looking at a blue print of a house or building tells us a lot about the composition, design, and purpose of the structure. Similar to a blueprint, the more detail you have into your own design, the more you will come to understand your purpose. A clear purpose advances you toward the objective—the specific goals and enterprises that will magnify your talents and allow you to realize your ambitions. If you are fortunate enough to already understand your design, then you probably have a strong sense of your purpose. You are likely experiencing powerful validation as you progress towards your ultimate objective. This process helps develop your niche. The further we travel down the path, the more specific and unique our experience becomes. We will undoubtedly find unexpected opportunities as our niche becomes apparent and valuable to others, but that will only be “gravy” on top of the satisfaction we derive from aligning with and following our purpose.
Consider the following list of influential historical figures. Each discovered and pursued a specific niche that became a great legacy. It is interesting to note how they came in to contact with their purpose and how long it took for them to clarify their objective.
Albert Einstein – In his youth, his father showed him a pocket compass that sparked a curiosity within him. That curiosity promoted a lifetime of immeasurable scientific contribution. I find it interesting that Einstein formed a mastermind group called “the Olympia Academy.” This is important because it shows that in spite of his brilliance, Einstein still sought the cooperation and support of those around him. Shortly after his first job at the patent office, Einstein published the theory of relativity. He was only 26 year old.
The Wright Brothers – A father’s gift of a rubber band-powered toy helicopter inspired a relentless pursuit to build a flying machine. The brothers opened a bicycle shop to fund their research and interest in flight. By the time they reached their 30s, the brothers were manning the first gliders and a few years later, they operated the first powered flights. Their lives were spent devoted to the development of flight ignited by a spark of curiosity.
Thomas A. Edison – Edison identified his most powerful advocate when he said, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” At age 19, he took a job at Western Union, and requested the night shift to be able to read and experiment during the day. Although these experiments eventually got him fired, he caught the attention of an inventor named Franklin Leonard Pope, who let Edison work in his basement. Edison created a number of life-changing devices including the phonograph, motion picture cameras, and a long-lasting light bulb. His inventions pioneered a number of today’s vibrant industries and facilitated mass communication that serves each of us on a daily basis.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Mozart demonstrated prodigious abilities at the age of 3. By age 5 he was composing and performing before European Royalty. While his path and abilities were clear, it wasn’t until he was 17 years old that he freed himself of the constraints imposed by his father and his circumstances and followed his true passion. From this moment on, compositions seemed to emanate from him easily; Mozart ultimately created over 600 works that to this day stand as defining musical achievements.
Henry Ford – Ford’s father gave him a pocket watch that he dismantled and rebuilt numerous times. This gift, coupled with a fascination for steam-powered tractors, unleashed a passion for discovery and invention that defined his life. Ford pursued his engineering interests in a number of jobs until he took a job with Edison Illuminating Company at the age of 28. Two years later, Ford was promoted to chief engineer and tested his first hand-built gasoline engine in his kitchen sink. Ford capitalized on every opportunity to work on his engine experiments and caught the attention of Edison himself, who became a great mentor to and supporter of Ford. Although his first two companies failed, Henry Ford eventually built Ford Motor Company and innovated the automotive industry.
So, what about you? What is unique about your design? What talents and motivations have you discovered through your experience? What are you most passionate about in your life? What have you always wanted to do?
Finding your niche will require commitment and introspection. It will most likely require the feedback of those around you. Whatever it takes, start paying attention to the passions and interests that motivate you. Remember, the purpose of life is to come into harmony with the gifts and talents you possess. We all have a contribution to make and a purpose to fulfill. Find yours!
BRAD HARKER is a professional speaker, sales consultant, and author of The Laws of Influence (www.thelawsofinfluence.com). Through the creation of several companies and more than a quarter-billion dollars in sales, Brad has developed an ideology that anyone, regardless of profession, can leverage to discover their potential, align with their purpose, and realize their goals. Learn more at www.bradharker.com