Aristotle was the first philosopher to observe that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Little did he know, his philosophy would have broad implications in systems theory, science, art and even career management.
Physicists call this theory emergence, whereby things come alive when their elements are integrated into one another.
Human beings are the perfect example. Our talents in isolation don’t necessarily have much value. Only through the creative combination of those assets do we locate our competitive edge.
Adams famously explained that he succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. Dilbert, he says, was a combination of all four of his skills. The world had plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. But the rare part was that each of those modest skills is collected in one person.
That’s how his value was created. Through the power of emergence. When the animated whole became greater than the sum of its parts.
And so, if your natural gifts are not all that extraordinary, that’s okay. You can still use them to maximum effectiveness to achieve your dreams. It’s simply a matter of developing the faculty for parlaying your modest collection of gifts into opportunities.
Venn diagrams are helpful in developing this faculty. Drawing them helps you view the relationships and overlaps and combinations and cross pollinations. In fact, next time you’re on a job interview or a sales call or a business meeting, draw one. Right there on the other person’s notebook. It’s interesting, engaging, memorable, and helps your value come alive right before their very eyes.
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What value does the sum of all your parts create?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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