We had a visit yesterday from Liz, one of our friends in Sheffield. I met Liz 11 years ago here at university. Like me she’s decided to live in Sheffield for a while.
Liz is 30, and a qualified doctor. If you include GSCE’s and A-levels, she’s been training to become a doctor for half her life.
Ever since I’ve known Liz, she’s suffered with chronic fatigue. It comes and goes to a degree, but there have always been serious time limits on what she can do. I remember her revising for an exam at university in ten-minute intervals, with five-minute micro-sleeps in between.
Looking back, I have no idea how she got through her degree. I think she’s probably the most committed, most determined person I know. And yesterday, she told us she’s quitting medicine for good.
“I just can’t do it,” she admitted. “I had to drive to Bakewell last week to see my supervisor, and ended up crashing my car into a wall. I’m okay, and the car’s okay. But it was a wake-up call.”
“How am I supposed to see patients for four hours a day, if I can’t even drive 30 minutes to see my supervisor? I’m pretty determined, but will power has its limits…”
I have every confidence Liz will be okay. She’s great with people, and great in particular with children. I suspect medicine was a red herring for her. But the words “will power has its limits” stuck with me for a while.
I’ve been thinking about will power recently in my own work. Will power is essential for getting a business off the ground. But I suspect eventually it may be a hindrance rather than a help, because you end up doing too much stuff. Will power can also be blinding.
In my book The Marketing Nurture System, I explain there are four roles that have to be filled in an effective marketing system: product expert, systems expert, copywriter and implementer. There are other roles you can plug in on top of this; specific ad platform experts, copy supervisor and so on. But that’s the core.
I’ve been working on a project recently where there are three of us in four of the roles. The only role unoccupied is implementer, which is the least important role. There’s no ambiguity over the roles, either. I’m in the copywriter role. My client is in the systems expert role. The client’s brother is the product expert.
It’s made me realise how much more you get done when the right people are in the right roles, rather than doing everything yourself as a super-human effort. Willpower is a great catalyst, but eventually it isn’t enough.
Are you playing to your strengths? Or are you busy doing everything yourself?