Welcome to my regular series titled My Light Bulb Moment, which highlights those blinding flashes of insight that business, cultural and sports leaders have had in their careers and how this changed their lives forever.
Part of the human condition is to continually compare ourselves with others, asking: "Why don't I measure up?" However, to become a real success in both business and life we instead need to ask: "What is it that I am really good at?"
Although now a substantial shareholder in Just Water, Bartercard and Pure SEO, Tony Falkenstein did not receive the traditional "gilt-edged" upbringing of many in the upper echelons of the business world.
The son of German immigrants who fled their home country just before the start of World War II, Tony had a slow start to success. "I had never been a winner," he says. "I had to sit School Certificate twice, never got into a school sports team, and it took me six years to get a BCom degree in accounting." Even when qualified it was not smooth sailing.
"I was a hopeless accountant," he says, "so instead I edged towards the marketing area, which I enjoyed."
Light Bulb Moment: "What is your talent?"
At 23 Tony found himself working in a finance role at Polaroid. It was here that he suddenly realised he had a talent which others didn't have to the same degree - he could think outside the box very quickly and naturally.
"My realisation came about when we were asked to quote for a photo card for one of the major banks. To do the job we would have had to provide about 200 machines nationally, however due to their strictly limited budget we could only provide 76 of them."
This provoked a lot of discussion and head-scratching by the senior management team at Polaroid. However, this was also when Tony had his light bulb moment. "My thought was to rent the machines, because our real payback was in film burn."
This was received very well internationally, with Tony receiving accolades from the United States head office and Polaroid starting a very successful worldwide rental programme.
"Once I knew consciously that I had this talent I made sure I used it," Tony says. He made sure to allow himself the time to think and nurture his ideas so he could then develop them further.
Tony blossomed within the company, and at the age of 29 was appointed general manager.
Take the time to find and invest in your talent
As Tony says, "everybody has a talent that is stronger than others. Just like we look different, we think differently. The challenge is to find out as early as possible what your talent is."
As Tony moved into the area of his career he was passionate about, it freed him up to find, then express, his talent.
This week, I encourage you to discover the talent you are best at, then spend some time to nurture it, letting it blossom throughout both your career and life.
• If you have had a blinding moment of insight (a light bulb moment) I would love to hear about it. Email Tom at tom@AchievementExpert.com