I recently had a conversation during which someone suggested that we can only be brilliant at one thing. As I reflected on this, I started to notice some internal conflicts. Initially, I was more concerned about the focus on one thing when I have many interests. Then I became aware of the word “brilliant” and how it seemed to push me toward perfection.
As much as I am committed to self-development and personal growth, I don’t like my experience being restricted. In any way. I suspect this is why the idea of “one thing” didn’t sit well with me. It seemed to suggest that I should commit to a single element and ignore other opportunities. Even when I was single-minded in seeking promotions and climbing the corporate ladder, I still wanted a broad skillset. Simply becoming a capable recruiter was not enough for me. I wanted to understand and be involved in every aspect of early careers programmes. This meant becoming knowledgeable and capable in a variety of different areas. From selection activity, I went on to gain knowledge and insight in programme management, learning & development, and eventually marketing.
I find even in my personal life that I enjoy having variety to play with. My art projects include textile wall hangings, jewellery making, and digital drawing. I have reading interests that span from trashy nonsense novels through to psychology and coaching practice. My physical exercise can include anything from walking, hooping, boxercise, and even weights training. I enjoy having the choice, even if it is to do nothing. This means I have options and the freedom to do what most appeals. I also know that over time I will become better at each, and that my experience in one area would support my ability in another. I believe being restricted to one thing would mean I would not have the flexibility of thought or internal drive to strive for excellence.
Now, when I consider being brilliant at something, I find an inner challenge rising to the surface. It suggests that this would never be possible. It feels as if each time I take a step toward achieving this brilliance, I would become more aware of a greater number of possibilities. Each possibility would open potential opportunities for further development and enhance my view of what brilliance is. Making it bigger and full of more detail.
I can see the value in being able to do things well. I’m just unsure of when I could confidently say I was brilliant. In the past, each time I became good at something I looked for ways of taking my skillset further. When I started making jewellery, I used materials others suggested and made simply strung pieces. Once I mastered this, I looked for materials that would make the process easier, or that would improve the quality of the items I created. The truth is I feel brilliance would always be out of my reach. Therefore by striving for this, it’s as if I would consistently remain unfulfilled. I’m up for the growth and development, I just want this to be continuous without a focused end point to measure myself against.
So, can we be brilliant at just one thing? Yes. I have no doubt that it’s possible. However, I suspect if we aimed for this, not only would our brilliance be limited through lack of experience in different areas, we would also be incredibly unfulfilled.