Seth Godin talks about the difference between hourly work and linchpin work and refers to the story of his college professor Henry who solved a damp problem in a high rise building and saved tens of thousands of pounds in the process. It reminded me of the old Henry Ford tale where Ford explains a problem he’s having to the famous engineer Nikola Tesla.
Tesla hears him out, has a good think and then chalks a small X on piece of machinery. X marking the spot. The source of problem. A short time later Ford receives the bill – $10,000.
Asked for an explanation Tesla tells him: “$1 for marking the X, $9,999 for knowing where to put it.” Ding dong. Know how.
The distance between knowing how and not knowing can be immense; years of experience, insight, practice or study. It might be innate, intuitive, it might be something you read on the bus this morning. Who knows? What’s certain though is that if you want to succeed in an ultra competitive world, to scratch your mark on history then talent rules. You’ll need to factor in some X. X is where it’s at. X is the difference.
Anyone can tell a story, anyone can write. Not everyone knows where to put the X.
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Thanks to Eva the Weaver for the Flickr photo