Focus and specialization


    Going along for the ride is no way to build a meaningful career. Let’s face it, most employees are average. That is how average gets defined. It’s like a bell curve where the majority of employees are in the middle and few set themselves apart as really great…or really bad.

    If you want a meaningful career, you have to get out of the bell curve and operate on the fringe — and that will take intense focus. Unfortunately, focus is precisely what so many design and environmental professionals lack.

    One theory is that technical professionals lack focus because they are extremely intelligent and therefore easily bored. This can cause them to think that they need variety in their work and that focusing on one area of the business is limiting.

    That thinking is flawed. When you focus on becoming really valuable to a company, you must focus on where you can maximize your strengths. Being a “Jack of all trades, and master of none” is not the path you want to be on.

    When you focus on one market or service, you get very good at it. And when you are very good at something, you get noticed by your peers and upper management. You also get very ef cient at things you are good at doing. When you are good at delivering a professional service, your clients notice and will start calling you and preferring you work for them. When you have favor with your clients, you can then charge more for it.

    When designing your career, focus on what you really want out of your life. When you keep in mind what you really want in your life, it helps you focus on the right things in your job. Getting focused will make you more successful — in business and in life.

    Chad Clinehens, P.E., is Zweig Group’s executive vice president. Contact him at