‘What’s your niche?’ is a question I have often been asked and, I have to confess, I do find it difficult to answer. It is largely due to the fact that I have had many different experiences where I’ve had the opportunity to turn them into something special and then into regular paid income. But more crucially, this is all in the context of doing something that I love.
It is very rare that somebody has a skill or capability they have discovered and been able to monetise very quickly. If you look at all the people who have been successful in being able to monetise their passion you will see, behind the scenes, thousands of hours of commitment, joy and – let’s not forget – disappointment. It’s said that in order to develop muscle memory one must do something with repetition for 10,000 hours. I initially treated this idea with scorn, but actually, it is true. It is less about the hours of dedication but more about the experience that is generated in remaining committed to developing an expertise which becomes integrated into the very fabric of one’s identity.
It is this integration into identity that enables an individual to manifest their niche in a way that is utterly compelling, completely understandable and fully believable. Why? Because it becomes an expression of who you are and what you stand for. This is conveyed subliminally it is subjective, and yet having been through this process a number of times in my life, I can attest that it is completely true.
The experience of the dojo.
I only have to think about the first time I stepped onto a dojo floor with my Japanese teacher at the age of 14. I was transfixed, captivated, empowered, confused and all in a single moment in time. What became interesting from this early experience was the simple fact that my teacher became a model to which I aspired, to which I focused my attention and commitment.
This has led to a lifelong absorption into the study of traditional Japanese Budo simply translated Martial way. The secret is in the word ‘way’ an indefinable and unimaginable process that is utterly unique. You either step on or you don’t step at all.
What I learnt from this lifelong experience was an integration of teaching and practice that was manifested in the very way I live my life. What was clear is that mastery created the context from which my niche began to take root.
This leads me to the second of my experiences which although significantly different are nonetheless related. From a young age I experienced an innate quality to be able to read the story of people’s lives simply by looking at them. I didn’t know where this had come from. I couldn’t even describe the experience other than a deep sense of knowing.
This led me to pursue a lifelong study of applied psychology.
It took me to Zen, Sufism, large group awareness training, psychotherapy and group therapy, studying under many teachers and masters of the art of human understanding – Osho, Werner Erhard, Robert Daubigny, Petruska Clarkson, Marcia Karp and many more whose names I’ve forgotten. Each reflected a different mirror of my experience and the manifestation of my soul. All this in service of a deep yearning to understand something unique about the human condition.
These experiences lay in my ability as a communicator and a storyteller. Somebody who has the ability to capture the essence of the moment and the aspiration of the human condition. More importantly as somebody who is prepared to dance the very spirit of what it means to be a human. What is so interesting about this part of my journey has been the immersion in life itself.
Developing one’s niche is a combination of the ability to translate one’s personal experience into usable skills, to communicate this not necessarily by the demonstration of charismatic behaviours but by an expression of identity in a way that is immediately connected to other human beings.
Developing your niche begins with you
Some pieces of advice when undertaking a self-discovery:
- Understand your own expression and how this expression is a reflection of you
- Be curious, about everything and do not cease to understanding
- Be cautious about being in a hurry – to desire to hurry is understandable but unfortunately, other people may misread this for desperation
- Focus, commit, and learn from your plateaus
- Become a manifestation of your own energy and enthusiasm. This is infectious and people will love you for it.
- The power is in your network – if you want to know what your niche is find out what your network says about you and what you stand for.
- Be prepared to say yes more even when you don’t feel like yes is the right thing to do. For only by saying yes will you open up the possibility of something new.
- Be prepared to laugh and cry, and to learn the richness in failure and the secret gift of disappointment.
Start here. And let us know how you get on. Let us know about your experiences of finding your niche by commenting below or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org