[November 5, 2018]
Ultimately, our family and our friends know us better than anyone. Throughout the next couple of weeks — Episodes 14–16 — I will be exploring the ways that my family and friends have spoken into my life, and what has come of it — both personally and professionally. How has our proximity lent itself toward clarity? How has their discernment altered the way that I understand myself, and what may come of this new understanding? How might I reciprocate it? If Solomon’s insistence on, “wisdom in the counsel of many,” stands true (which it does), then why not listen to and learn from the “many” that are our own? Consider the following three chapters a compounding mini-series on understanding self and others — each with our respective strengths and weaknesses — as discovered in and through a relationship with our loved ones.
It all started with a simple question.
“Don’t answer this right away unless you have an answer,” my friend Matt said, and then asked, “What does Craig Gross do better than anybody else?”
I, of course, did have an immediate answer.
“I’ve got it! I know how to start something and make whatever it is happen better than anyone else,” I said.“What about you?”
Matt replied, “I do business and relationships better than anyone. I mean, there are guys better at business, and there are guys better relationally, but no one (that I know of) who is better than me at both.”
Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, I ran back through my response to Matt’s question over and over again. The more I sat with it, the more of a clarifying impact it began to have on me.
I wonder if other people agree with my answer?
I paid the question forward to five other friends and family members:
“What do you think that I do better than anyone else?”
All five people responded with — more or less — the exact same answer.
I received the most concise response from my long-time friend and employee, Michelle, who is perhaps the only person besides my wife who’s been on whatever bandwagon it is that I’ve been working to create for as long as she has.
“You get shit done and make things happen better than anyone I know.”
I sat with that for another day. The answers moved beyond providing mere clarity. Their unanimity began to bolster confidence that I am, in fact, good at what the people closest to me say that I am good at. Which snowballed into a proper deconstruction:
- “Why am I doing anything but that?”
- “How much of my time do I currently spend doing this?”
- “Oh! Others aren’t like me (that explains why they all drive me insane)!”
I asked Matt to conduct the same experiment, “Send your question to five of your closest friends. Let’s see how closely connected their answers are to one another.” Then, I paid the question forward to my friends Levi and Carl, and my wife Jeanette. Before that, though, I brainstormed what I thought their responses might be.
This is what my best guesses were, prior to talking to any of them:
Carl figures stuff out better than anyone.
Levi empathizes in his writing better than anyone.
Jeanette has more discipline than anyone.
Here are their actual answers:
Carl said, “I get shit figured out and working.”
Levi said, “I am an empathetic writer.”
Jeanette said, “I have willpower and discipline.”
And pretty damn close — if not exactly on point — is how this experiment has played out with everyone we’ve brought it to nearly every damn time.
Of course (as is the Craig Brain custom), my head almost immediately spun straight off of my body, carried away by the winds of excitement, URL’s, e-courses and deliverables. Right then and there — at 1:30 am — I outlined an entire video course. I would’ve shot the whole thing, too, hadn’t it been so damn late and my son was already asleep. I didn’t even have notes. I just finally believed that I was good at what everyone affirmed in me, and was ready to roll. It’s funny, I realize the things that excite me probably sound like pulling teeth to so many people.
I kept thinking, “Wow… everyone I’ve asked has said that I do this one thing better than anyone they know. And everyone I’ve asked to conduct the same ‘test’ has had the same experience with its results as I have.
I wonder how or what we might be able to learn from one another if we could better understand our differences? If we could learn not to be threatened by our weaknesses (which we are all too familiar with), but instead hone in on our strengths, and complement one another?
How could I teach my particular gift — My One Thing — to someone who doesn’t possess it, but wants to learn, grow, and stretch themselves?
How could someone else?
How could we flex new muscles and — as I’ve somehow found myself in the middle of a cliche bodybuilding analogy — how could we become trainers who help strengthen one another’s weak spots in actionable ways? How do we help one another progress and see that our hard work is paying off when gazing into our proverbial mirrors?
And by we…I really do mean all of us.
Not just KOLBE Quick-Start dudes with an overabundance of confidence and ten lessons mapped out before you can blink an eye.
Not just e-course gurus and — also — not just for sale.
Anyone and everyone.
My friend, Matt. My wife, Jeanette. Neither of which are front-facing people with social media followings. Neither of which are artists or influencers. Neither of which have a solid headshot. Neither of which with any idea how to register a domain, shoot and edit a video course, or list it.
And, frankly, neither of which with a desire to do any of that in the first place, let alone the belief that anyone else would want or could stand to benefit from their “expertise” (which they’re not convinced of) if they did.
A few nights later, I was at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles with my son, Nolan. His favorite band, LANY, was hosting a small concert for 200 fans, and they promoted it as including dedicated time for Q&A with them at the end of the night. We got in, and during the post-show session, someone asked the band about how they first got started.
In short, Paul — LANY’s vocalist — had a struggling career as a solo artist. Their drummer, Jake, was a session drummer at a studio in Nashville. And Les, their multi-instrumentalist on guitar, piano, etc., was working at a Post Office before he came home to make and produce music after his shifts.
At one point in his response, Paul looked at Les and said, “To be honest, Les was sitting on his gifts.”
I texted Matt, who spurred this whole idea on, told him I’ve got it! And immediately registered the domain name.
At this point, I would say it’s an extension of the same experiment our friend-and-family groups have been exploring with one another. When you land on the website’s homepage, you, too, are prompted to answer the question that Matt first asked me:
“What do YOU do better than anyone else?”
After you answer for yourself, you will be asked to share that question with five other people.
Then, you wait.
You wait for clarity and confidence.
Maybe these epiphany moments are all you’ll need to recalibrate life in such a way that it — and your responsibilities therein — seems to flow more freely. Clarity of mind is a gift in and of itself, and I’ve found that, when coupled with greater self-discovery, many of the stuck end up working themselves out.
Whether or not a person has any interest in using their expertise to build a product isn’t the point. As I have grown more introspective (a process I long to have learned earlier in life), I am discovering that it has been something like embarking upon a journey into the unknown that I am. Thankfully, the conclusion I have reached along the way is that — whether personally or professionally — I am who I am for a reason.
Understanding and becoming more of that person — the one who I was created to be — is resulting in such a sense of freedom that I can’t help but overflow with excitement. I’ve heard it said that “excitement shared is joy multiplied,” and much of this process has seemed to be something like the unleashing of a long-oppressed person who I didn’t even know existed, finally unbarred and given the freedom to run, and inviting others along for the ride.
Trust me, it’s a lot better than wandering around aimlessly, or vaguely dissatisfied without a finger on your own pulse.
Maybe you know what that feels like.
Let me ask you: What do you do better than anybody else?
Ask yourself. And hear my friend, Matt, when he says, “If you don’t know right away, that’s okay, but don’t make it up.” Think about it. It’s deep work, and it’s worth doing. Ask your friends. Ask your family.
“Where there is no counsel, purposes are disappointed; But in the multitude of counselors they are established.”
Sit with it, but whatever you do, don’t sit on it.
What is your One Thing?