By Brian Robben, For The Miami Student
When a great new opportunity presents itself, it’s easy to say yes right away. Maybe you get an email about a campus job or you see a poster for club sports and before you know it, you have seven meetings written down on any given Tuesday. The over-achiever in all of us wants to commit and wear our jam-packed schedule on our sleeves. We can’t imagine saying no.
So, when something new comes along, you’re stuck. Should you add another commitment to your schedule? The advantages of a unique experience, increased resume line and the attitude of “I’m only in college once” seem to prevail. Then the decision becomes more difficult as the disadvantages are released back into the picture. An added responsibility will leave you with less time for school, sleep and friends.
But, is it worth it?
It’s important to try new things and find what you might be passionate about, but only to a certain degree.
If you’re a freshman, then I encourage you to try out different organizations and clubs. Try everything like you’re going on a shopping spree. But after a trial run, it’s in your best interest to narrow it down to one or two main areas (ideally one) where you spend your time — and do it as soon as you can.Why? Because society values the top achievers, commonly known as masters of their field, disproportionately to the people who are average in multiple fields. It’s better to be a master of one thing than to spread yourself too thin.
A top achiever is valued because their production to their companies is unmatched compared to average employees. Because of this production, the master is given more opportunities to excel.
Also, top achievers are indispensable to organizations and therefore can make demands that have to be met. They have more leverage and more power. But as an employee with only average production, the company can make demands on you because you are replaceable.
If you’re thinking that you will go for mastery in different fields, stop right there. It’s impossible to compete at the same level as top performers when you spread yourself out with many focuses. Not to mention how frustrating and exhausting it is; there aren’t enough hours in the day.
So, let’s again visit the difficult question from the start about taking on another responsibility. First, ask yourself what career do you want? What are you most passionate about? Where do you want to be next year or ten years from now? What will help you get there? After thinking about this, think about that new opportunity and determine if it helps you become a top performer in that field. In fact, think about each activity you’re involved in, if it helps you reach your main goal then keep doing it. Otherwise, don’t do it. Invest your time in things that put you on path to mastery, not being average.
Do you want to be a lawyer? Develop the skills lawyers need and then get a high GPA and high LSAT score.
Do you want to be a CEO in the future? Start learning from current CEOs and building connections. Each field requires a certain set of building blocks.
Instead of being a secretary, treasurer and general member of three student organizations, lead as president of one organization that aligns with your future career. Or pick one organization to devote your time to and work your way up. You’ll learn far more, have more fun and walk out of college with real experience.
Brian is a senior Professional Writing major at Miami. For more posts like this, check out his website.