Why The Most Successful Professionals are like Snipers

Pretty much NO excuse required for me to quote from The Dark Knight movies…

It’s a powerful quote during a a fight where Bane just toys with Batman and defeats him.

 “You fight like a young man, with nothing held back. It’s admirable but mistaken” – Bane to Batman

Let’s talk about ‘nothing held back‘. What I have found over the course of my career is that too many professionals are concerned with amassing lots of certifications, skills and qualifications like they are going out of fashion. Nothing held back.

That is what I call the Mac
hine Gun approach

Where you stand in a crowd and with nothing held back, you fire a machine gun in frenzy, hoping to hit your target. People will run away from you. You will cause collateral damage and you WILL get caught and WORSE…laughed at.

When I meet people who have lots of skills and certifications, none of them are to a deep and meaningful level. Resumes with lots of skills and certifications, look like they have been put together by the person’s mother, trying hard to show off her daughter’s every talent.


Why do people just blindly hoard qualifications?

I’ve heard this over the years a lot…Jaspreet has an MBA, so I must get an MBA. Sally has PRINCE2, I must get that. The magazine sponsored by Microsoft suggested I’m an idiot if I don’t get my MCSE etc etc.

It’s a fear based, scarcity mind-set and it’s a race to the bottom.

Don’t participate in that race. You won’t win. No one wins.

I kid you not, I once got a 12 page CV given to me by a recruiter from a Business Analyst who had 15+ years’ experience, a PhD , MBA, CFA, ACCA, PRINCE2, PMP, CCNA(!). My colleague and I brought him to the interview just to see what he would be like. I actually imagined someone like this would turn up:


Let’s just say the interview didn’t work out well for him.

Yes he was okay in person, but succeeding in work, in big organisations requires a LOT of relationship building. Now, I was humane with him but what I really wanted to say to him was: listen buddy, you don’t need the MBA, PhD, CFA, PMP etc…you just need a bachelor’s degree, a few solid skills, a history of problem solving in similar organisations and a P.E.R.S.O.N.A.L.I.T.Y. All that other stuff is just distracting from what the world ACTUALLY needs.

Trying to become everything to everyone is the quickest path to becoming nothing to no one. The key is to FOCUS.

When you start focusing on you ‘the professional’, the person who is going to solve your team’s/companies problems. When you are aligned with senior people, then you are like a Sniper. You assess the situation, you have the ONLY skills you need, you know everything about your target and ALL you need is one shot.

  • You take that one shot
  • Hit the target
  • Move on to the next target.

You are not wasting time and energy (both of which you have in limited supply).

As we move from corporatism to a more gig based economy over the next decade, being a ‘one stop shop for everything’ just won’t get you very far. You will get lost in the noise.

During the period of adjustment, people who accept this reality and begin to FOCUS like lasers towards what precisely they are and how they are of help to organisations will not just be more visible but will be more attractive.

Now when you are young, it’s not bad to be a generalist, it’s part of the journey but treat your career journey like a sculpture; carve away and refine.

To share my own example, I have been an independent consultant over the last decade and have just about nailed down my proposition as being someone who helps deliver large transformation programmes for big Banks. I didn’t get there overnight, I went from Developer to Analyst to Excel/MI expert to Project Manager to PMO to Programme Management.

It was an evolution but I carved away until I found my laser focus.

So, put down the bloated, heavy machine gun and become a sniper.

Success in your career will be much more seamless and more fruitful.

Now, I help professionals, not just with career advice but ALSO in improving one of the most important hard skills: Excel. I have a FREE ebook that 25,000+ people have downloaded called ‘The only 27 Excel Formulas you need as a professional’, which is in line with my sniper philosophy. Click here to get the E-Book and I’ll also send lots of exclusive tips, lessons and guidance to your inbox that I haven’t shared anywhere else on matters of Excel and Career.


About the Author Earn & Excel

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