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Finding your own personal sweet spot

In the world of business there’s this little thing called the COP model.  COP is an acronym where each letter stands for “Competency”, “Opportunity”, and “Passion”, respectively.  Opportunity means there’s a demand, or a need for what you do.

If you imagine each as a circle (as I diagramed above), the area where all three intersect is known as the “sweet spot”.  This is the spot where you will be at your very best.

In areas where you have competency and passion, but no opportunity – that’s a hobby.  If you have competency and opportunity, but lack passion, then you’re going to be bored and miserable, and underperforming.  If there is opportunity and you have passion, but no competency, then you’re a novice, and need only experience and training.

But where they all intersect is the sweet spot, the area in your life/career that you will be at your very best, and the most happy.

Taking it personally

In whatever you do, you should seek out your sweet spot.  Find what it is that you’re the most passionate about, and which you have the most natural talent to do, and then find opportunities to do it.  Find the demand.  If you can do that, you’ll find success.

You also don’t have to find all three, whereas passion is difficult to create, competency and opportunity are not.  If there’s something you’re passionate about, and there’s demand for it, then you’re job now is to build your competency.

If you have competency and passion, but can’t find demand – perhaps your role is an innovator.  After all, most of the biggest innovations, the truly revolutionary jumps, come from people who are competent and passionate, but whose thoughts are unbound by the current perceptions of demand.  These are they who think freely, and who find ways to leverage their unique talents to add value in ways that are not mainstream (at least yet).

For the leaders

If you’re a leader, you’re job is to help those you lead find their own sweet spot.  This applies to business leaders as well as parents, teachers, and all who lead.  As you help those with whom you associate find their sweet spot, you’ll find fulfillment unlike any other as you watch them begin to excel and progress beyond their prior imagination.

If you have someone that is passionate about something, help them build competencies in that area.  For as you focus on what you’re naturally best at, you’ll truly start to stand out from the crowd and become remarkable.

But whatever path you take, please don’t stop short of finding your sweet spot, no matter how long it takes or how much you may have to change in your life.  The peace and fulfillment of living within your sweet spot are simply too great to surrender so easily.  Keep looking.


7 replies
  1. Eric Nielson
    Eric Nielson says:

    This is something I have a bit of a problem with. Maybe you can help a brother out. I will use a personal experience to illustrate.

    When I was young (about 10) I was probably the best athlete in my town. I was expecting to be a professional athlete of some type – just a matter of which sport. I loved sports, and still do. If I have a passion it is in this area.

    Unfortunately by the time I was in high school I was a very average athlete, and couldn’t enem make my high school teams. It was very sad for me to realize I simply did not have the talent to pursue that passion. All passion with no competency and little oportunity. So now what?

    I knew I was good in math and science, and decided to choose mechanical engineering as a career based on competency and oportunity. I really am not greatly passionate about it thoguh. It is just a job to me. So I am sort of an average engineer and I look forward to going home at the end of the day.

    The point I am trying to make is that most of the world simply does not have a sweet spot. And I feel should accept something less. This speaks against what you are advocating.

    So what should I do? Without the athletic skill, and as a 41 year old, should I quit my job and try and be an ESPN guy? Should I try and spend my kids mission funds and try and get my PGA card and be a professional golfer since I like golf? I have a wife and four kids to worry about.

    Dropping what I feel are my responsibilities to try and find my personal sweet spot seems ….. irresponsible. I just wonder if following our passions regardless of competency and opportunity usually lead nowhere. And what we are really passionate about is probably pretty limited in range. How many things can a person be passionate about? And if someone is passionate about many things, are the just to emotional and not very rational?

    Anyway, I struggle with this concept, and wonder what advice to give my four boys as they grow up. If their passions are not practical or marketable should I really encourage them to invest everything into that passion anyway? Or encourage them to keep that passion as a hobby and invest in something that will provide for a family?

    I would be interested in your thoughts.

  2. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    I don’t think the “sweet spot” HAS to be related to how you make a living. Maybe for you it’s your blog or something else you love to do that fills a need and you’re good at. For most of us our job isn’t the best part of our life, but we have to make a living. Maybe the best sweet spot is giving some kind of service and doesn’t involve money at all.

  3. Rusty Lindquist
    Rusty Lindquist says:

    I do agree with Margaret, perhaps it’s improbable to reach a sweet spot in every aspect of your life, but working to find one sweet spot gives your life excitement and meaning. Perhaps your sweet spot is your 4 children, so you work as you must so that you can come home and be in your sweet spot. If you’re passionate about parenting and your family, and there’s clearly the opportunity for you, and you’re growing in competency, then that’s what constitutes a sweet spot.

    But in response to your career questions. The point wasn’t just follow your passion, but find your sweet spot. If you’re passionate about sports, but there isn’t a lot of opportunity, nor sufficient competency, then that’s not a sweet spot, that’s just a passion. Passion without opportunity or any real level of competitive competency is fine, it’s called a hobby. Should people pursue their passions? Absolutely, but usually not to the exclusion of all else. The point here is that if you pursue a passion where there is no opportunity or competency, then beware the results.

    Instead, if you can find the things you are passionate about (even moderately so), that are also in demand, and in which you show at least moderate (and improving) capacity, then this model advises you to focus on that, for in doing so, you’ll end up having more fun and being more successful.

    Also, I do think that people can get down on life. Passion can be killed, or at least stifled. As such, passion can also be found. A life without passion is like cereal without milk! Dry and crunchy ;-)

    But it’s never too late (or too early) to find new passions. People do it all the time. For some, they try fly-fishing, and fall in love with it. Some start running, and exercising, and become passionate about it. Passion isn’t something you’re only given so much of. It’s something that can be found, acquired, and built.

    I’ve now run two marathons, and I’m passionate about running. But boy, it sure didn’t start that way. Running was the last thing I wanted to do. But one day I decided to set a goal to do it. I’d never been a runner, but I thought it would be a valuable endeavor (if for nothing other than diminishing my ever-increasing love handles). Then to my great astonishment, I simply fell in love with it.

    I shouldn’t quit my job to become a professional runner though, because as much as I love it, I’m frightfully bad at it (I run stiff like a board, and I’m slow as molasses!), and there’s not much opportunity or demand for runners. But that doesn’t mean I should stop pursuing it.

    Life should be passionate. We should be passionate. But what I intend by this post is that amongst our passions, we ought to simply keep searching for that one wherein the greatest opportunities lie and for which we show the most promising competency. When we do, we’ve found our sweet spot, and there’s simply nothing like having an aspect of your life where you’re in your sweet spot.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] at last when the summit is reached  our goals will bring forth a paradise in our own lives. Our passions and opportunities will be combined with the hard work and labors of the journey to bring the light of the morning sun […]

  2. […] where the COP model comes in (read about the COP model on my post here). The COP model helps you determine your sweet spot, that area of focus where you’re most […]

  3. […] post).  It’s a decoupling of their pursuits from their passions.  They never found their sweet spot, and ended up pursuing something that they were assured could pay the bills, rather than something […]

  4. […] (see here). And we know that charting a trajectory towards a career more aligned to our sweet spot (see here) will take […]

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