How One New Skill Can Give You the Edge You Need

In the Arts, we are surrounded by people who exist in the same Zone of Genius as we do. There are likely dozens (at least!) of other highly trained people who do exactly the same thing that we do–going after the same audiences, grant money, venues, and press. 

How do we gain an edge over the competition? Add One Skill. 

This might seem to go against the advice to spend as much time as possible in your zone of genius. We’re told about The 3 D’s:




This means that we DO the things that we are the best at–the things only we can do, and we delegate the things that need to get done but can be done by someone else, and we delete the tasks that don’t really need to be done at all. 

Do we need to iron the sheets? Nope. Delete. 

Last week I talked about what your USP is….well, here’s how to get a bit more U in your USP. It’s a secret that people don’t talk about as often. 

Add one skill. 


Like that conductor who can also juggle…

KIDDING hahaha.


Seriously though, 

  • The conductor who is skilled at public speaking (and is extremely engaging with the audiences–who keep coming back over and over because that conductor made them feel like they were welcome)


  • The Painter who is skilled at making reels (ones that are more interesting than just a time-lapse of them making something)


  • The Chef who is skilled at watercolor and creates the most beautiful frame-worthy handpainted menus for their guests. 


  • The Writer who is so skilled at using dictation software, that they can write novel after novel while going on their morning walks. 


The Chef with the handpainted menus has an edge Photo by Kasturi Roy for Unsplash


So, you might be wondering…If that new skill isn’t in my zone of genius, should I bother to do it? And if I do, how do I go about acquiring such a skill, and how do I know which skill would be most helpful? 

As for the first part, I think that if it can be incorporated into the performance of your zone of genius, then it’s well worth it. If doing it adds too many extra steps to your process, and takes more time than it would to simply delegate it, then it’s not the right skill. Also, you might not have the funds available to pay someone else to do it, but you feel that it would enhance your work. In that case? Totally worth it. 

As for choosing which skill to learn, here are a few different ways to go: 


1. Double down on YOU

What is something you do naturally, but just a little bit? Maybe you’re a chef, and you like to make your menus as pretty as Canva will let you. What would take that beauty to the next level? Watercolors? Calligraphy? Bedazzling them? 


2. Zig where everyone else is Zagging

This is a personal favorite of mine. Are all arts organizations trying to “appeal to a broader audience”  by performing the kind of crossover artists that NO ONE likes? (because let’s be honest. There’s great genre-bending performances, and then there’s the other kind. ) Maybe you can get super niche and become the foremost expert on one thing. 


3. Learn something cutting-edge

From using an iPad and a pedal for your music to using AI to find grant opportunities to using that new dictation software, what advances in technology would help you do what you do faster, or more prolifically? 


4. Learn something old-school that would give you an edge. 

The Choreographer who can design and sew costumes. The musician who can improvise cadenzas. A writer who can do their own illustrations. What skills could you bring to the table that would cut out a budget line, an extra person, or a time delay for you? 


5. Ask yourself what’s holding you back

When you think about having more success with what you’re doing, or a project you’d love to take on, what is holding you back? Is it because you don’t know how to do some aspect of it? What if you could learn how to do it in a few short weeks or months? Do you have a blog? Learn SEO. Do you play a string instrument? Learn how to do a basic soundpost adjustment. Do you yearn to write a memoir? Learn storytelling. Know that you need to up your social media game? Learn how to make really great reels. 


Adding a skill like videography can give you the edge in so many creative fields.


If you’re reading this, you are probably really good at what you do. Artist, Dancer, Musician, Writer, Lawyer, Doctor, Accountant…Whatever it is, it likely has been a passion of yours for a long time, and I’d bet anything your training was long and intensive. 

But most skills in life DON’T require 3 hours a day of practicing for 20 years. Sometimes it’s just a matter of watching a few YouTube videos, taking a quick online class, or reading a book. 

If you started today, you could have a super useful new skill before the holidays. The only question is, what is it going to be? 



Let us know in the comments, and have fun!  




P.S. Do you know what the most successful people in your field are doing on a regular basis? I do. And I put it all together for you in my free guide, 10 Habits of Successful Artists. Chock-full of clear action steps you can start taking today to level up your own career. 

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