That insight got me to wondering how often I start down that particular rabbit hole. How often do I get invested in doing something only to discover that I am not very good at it and am unlikely to ever get very good at it? I’ve definitely been there a few times over the years and don’t figure that I am any better off for the time and energy spent going down those rabbit holes. Here’s the problem. I often have no good way of knowing whether something that peaks my interest is a rabbit hole or a real opportunity without investing in it enough to test out its potential.

It might be easy to conclude from all of this that it’s all just one big crap shoot. The best I can do is to just keep trying this and that, hoping that I stumble into more opportunities than rabbit holes. Fortunately, I came up with what is for me, a much better strategy. It starts with knowing what I’m already good at. Note that I didn’t say knowing what I’m already great at. I just inventoried the few things I was good at. For each of those things, I personally know someone who is better at it than I am. This means that I can’t hang my success on being great and certainly not the best at any of the things I am good at. So what’s the better strategy?

As it turns out, it’s pretty simple – not easy but also not complicated. Before I retired, my area of practice was human services, but I suspect the strategy works equally well for any area of practice. For me, I identified the dozen or so critical skill or knowledge streams that were essential within my practice area. What does it take to deliver quality human services to an identified population?

For example, it takes a particular skill set to work directly with service recipients. It takes finance management expertise to assure the resources are in place to support the service activity. It takes organizational expertise to coordinate the people, resources and facilities needed to provide the services. It takes data management expertise to evaluate and track the various elements and activities associated with service provision. The list continues, but I think you likely get the idea.

The idea is that any practice area from agriculture to zoo keeping has multiple skill sets and knowledge streams that are critical for success. It’s certainly appropriate to pursue being an expert with any of those skill sets or knowledge streams. For me though, I don’t have that kind of sustained focus. Nonetheless, I could develop a good working knowledge of as many of those skill sets and knowledge streams as possible. My goal was to know a lot about several skill sets and knowledge streams within my practice area. Over time, I learned more and more about what it takes to deliver quality human services and came to understand what it takes to be an expert in any of the specialties within the practice area. Beyond that, I understood how to manage all of the people and parts to assure that the people needing the services got the help they needed and deserved.

That brings me back to playing the organ. You probably think I forgot all about that. I certainly didn’t become an expert organist but definitely learned a lot about the skill set and knowledge stream that has to be mastered to be an organist. It also gave me a higher level of respect for the talent and expertise of real musicians. Perhaps my organ rabbit hole didn’t turn into an opportunity; but my strategy of going down those rabbit holes associated with my practice area did combine into a rather successful career.

I admit that the thread is pretty thin, but there is a point in there for podcasting and for my future as a podcaster. At the top of the list is that a podcast isn’t and can’t be a junk drawer. It has to be about something, has to have an integrating theme. Whatever its niche or theme, that has to be reflected in its title.

Next, the theme has to appeal to at least a few listeners. It’s that old thing about trees falling in the forest and no one there to hear. Is it a podcast if no one listens?

For now, I am considering what it takes to make a podcast and am starting with the niche or theme. Something that interests me and that requires a skill set that I already have. One that others are interested in and regularly think about or focus on.

I’m not sure what the podcast will be about or what the new title will be, but I’ll be back when I figure that out. I’m thinking “Gary’s Gripes” has possibilities.

Now you know so there you go.