In part two of this three-part exclusive interview, Francis Kong gives us a different view to success: recognizing and tapping on your strengths and talents to find purpose and meaning and, what you can do when you find yourself stuck in your quest to ultimately attain success.
(Did you miss the first part of this interview? Catch up here.)
Do you think it is important to find success?
Rather than saying it is important to find success, I would shift that thought to it is important to find your unique purpose and meaning in life. Once you do, and you do it well, the meaning comes and you can qualify yourself to say ‘I am really successful.’
The question now, does that entail lots of money — not necessarily.
There are people in NGOs, and there are people in their vocation who will never trade who they are and what they are doing for pockets full of money. That for them is success.
Then there are people with tons and tons of money, who are not exactly happy. They look at themselves in the mirror and say the saddest statements anybody can ever say. ‘What is the meaning to all of this,’ they would say. So, it is important to find purpose and meaning.
So how do you find purpose and meaning?
This is what I teach in my seminars. You and I are gifted with different talents. For me, that’s God-given. You cannot do anything about it.
The people inside my seminar hall are a mixed bag. Some would be good in singing, some would be good in speaking, others in writing. So they are given different gifts. They have a natural propensity for what is in their strength-zone.
But while talent is God-given, skills are what you acquire for yourself and what you do with your talent. When you bank on your talent and you work on it, this increases your competency. And when you reach a level of mastery, your talent then becomes your skill.
Your purpose in life is to find your own talents and skills — where you are strongest at.
If you look at successful people, they know their talents and skills. For example, Mark Zuckerberg, his talent is in social networking even from when he was in Harvard. He has an entrepreneurial spirit and he knows he’s got it. Similarly, Bill Gates has left right analytical talent.
Locally, you have MVP (Manuel V. Pangilinan) who is an extremely talented finance guy. If you look at all these taipans, their talent is in looking at something which doesn’t seem to be work and then make a tremendous amount of profit developing it, whether in manufacturing or in services.
They all know their talent. They hone it into becoming their skills — and that’s their purpose.
Do you know when meaning comes? Meaning will only come when you give your purpose away. So profit comes as a result of honing your competence. But you don’t keep it and you don’t become greedy because of it.
You share. And you use those rewards in order to help others. This is the best time when meaning comes.
And that moment will give you an immense sense of joy that would make you say, ‘This is what success is for me.’
What if you only have skill but no talent? Is it still possible to find success?
Marcus Buckingham came out with a very good book entitled Now Discover Your Strengths.
It starts with parenting talaga. Some parents would force their dreams to their children. They would tell their kids to take up medicine or engineering when the natural propensity or the natural talent of the kid isn’t geared towards that area.
They love their parents, so they obey them. This is not a sweeping generalization, but among many who follow their parents’ wishes, some would develop skills. They too become competent. But they would just reach a particular level and that’s it.
There are others who once they’ve mastered a skill and have satisfied the wishes of their parents, go on to discover other talents. They instinctively jump into their natural talent.
This is why there are doctors who were lackadaisical in their medical profession, but when then they open businesses for distribution, they become so good because their natural giftedness is in entrepreneurship, not in medicine.
If you have the natural talent, but what you do isn’t in alignment with your natural talent, and you built that into a skill, it is still possible to be good at it, but it’s a hard, long climb. It’s tough. It can still be done but you have to work double, triple. And force yourself to be good with that particular skill.
Meanwhile, if you build of your skill in alignment with your natural gifts, not only is it easier, it’s more fun. You enter into your strength-zone, and then you can level up many, many times.
I’ve noticed myself that being a public speaker is a natural talent for me because I am very talkative and I express my ideas in a clear and concise way. I never knew I was going to be a public speaker. But the moment the signs came, I developed it. Until today, I still read books on public speaking. I still hone it, I still practice. I still study the best of the best. And that elevates me into a very comfortable zone.
How do you know your talent? How do you know when you’re good at something?
The field has become so scientific that we all have different tests on personality to find your talent. I would highly recommend the book by Tom Rath called Strengths Finder which is now being used by many corporate structures.
Before this we had the DiSC Assessment. But today our minds are wired different. So I would rather use Strengths Finder. Briggs-Myers is also still workable.
What if you can’t afford to use the studies? Ask the people around you and those close to you who would not be afraid to tell you what you have to hear.
For me, this is a very philosophical and theological statement: God won’t get out from you what he did not put in you. For instance, God led Joseph to go through many years in the desert only to prepare him for becoming prime minister of Egypt who served in the palace. God prepared Moses for many years inside the palace to prepare him for forty years in the desert.
In other words, there’s always a purpose if we’re open to searching.
I have realized that my purpose is not really speaking. My purpose is to equip people that leans more towards education. This is the reason why I dislike the term motivation. Sometimes when you think about motivation, you only appeal to the emotion. You’ve fired people up, but you haven’t educated them.
I would rather embrace the term inspirational speaker, because when you inspire somebody, you have to touch both the emotion and the intellect. Appealing to the intellect causes a person to begin thinking, and that person now becomes more self-motivated.
How can you tell if you’ve finally found success?
This is very subjective, but I find myself extremely happy in what I’m doing, so much that I am actually willing to do this even if I’m not paid for it.
But here’s the paradox, I can do it for you for free because I love doing it. But clients pay me high, because they know that I can deliver what they want.
I want to have my meaning, that’s why I give it away. So I continue to give talks to parents, teachers and students and I have never charged them. No matter how tired I am, I’d still do it. Some speakers won’t do that. They think I’m losing opportunity, but not even I knew that someday the rewards will be so visible.
Whenever I give trainings and talks to paying clients, they pay me well, and that makes me happy because that buys food for my family. But when I give talks to schools for free, it gives me a sense of fulfillment and inspiration that propels me to do my job better. So when I give my paid talks and seminars, I do even better. So there’s no loss.
And throughout years of giving talks to schools, I never imagined that many of my former participants would someday be my current clients.
My students would say, ‘You know Sir Francis, I recommended you to our HR because I’d never forget what I’ve learned from you when I was in high school .’
And I would say, ‘Shut up, was that so long ago?’
I never knew that I was able to help them. More importantly I was investing goodwill. No wonder the bible says, ‘The more you give, the more you will receive.’ It is now so visible to me, very visible. I don’t know if other speakers see that.
So for me, that’s success: That I could do what I’m doing, even if you don’t pay me, yet happy to share, and excited about the future. At my age, I still feel like a beginner because there’s so much that I can still do, and so much to explore.
Now, the antithesis of that is ‘I don’t want to do what I’m doing anymore.’ You get depressed. You feel like you’re in a deadbeat job. And the only thing you look forward to is retirement.
What if you find yourself stuck? How do you shake yourself out of that rut?
There are three things I want to share with you that might work.
1. You need to have somebody real and honest to you. You need somebody who can really shake you up and say, ‘Pare, let’s get out of this current situation and let’s improve.’
Human beings have a tendency to be blindsided. We don’t really see who we are and where we are unless there is somebody strong enough to tell you that ‘you’ve stopped growing.’ ‘Things are not working for you.’ ‘Pare, you got to get out of that one na.’
2. How do you improve? Some people attend a seminar. Some people read books. Some listen to podcasts. While others listen to audio books. But if you look at the four factors, they all have something to do with knowledge.
There will never be change unless there is new information. So you have to seek for new information.
I’ll give you a very good example. ‘Friend buy this french fries, these are good.’ You say, ‘No!’ ‘Come on friend, these are really good.’ You still reply, ‘I don’t want to.’
I’ll do it again, ‘Buy it now, it’s 50% off!’ And now you say, ‘Oh, you didn’t say that! OK I’ll buy it.’ So now there’s a change in response because there’s new information.
3. Make everyday the first day of the year with that sense of wanting to have a new beginning, and wanting to change. This may be difficult, but I say, make every Monday the first day of the new year. And then assess: ‘what have I done last week?’ ‘what are the new things that I need to do now?’ ‘Have you worked on it consistently.’ And the most important part is you go back to the first one and say, ‘Pare, i-mentor mo naman ako.’
You got to have a sense of accountability, accompanied by a firm determination to grow. Self-growth, and development should always be intentional. Why? Because you have a choice. You can live your life with miserable people, or you can live your life by means of design.
Designing will be a lot better. You can design a success plan for your life.
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