Human beings have been trading stuff for an awfully long time. Some say for 150,000 years. It’s one of the biggest differentiators between us and the animals. It’s made our lives rich and cooperative.

Here’s how it works…

If one guy is great at making stone axes, and another guy is great at making wooden spears, then it helps everyone if they stick to their specialism, and swap stuff. In one sense, it’s simple math.

Ug takes 1 day to make a stone axe. He’s good at it, because he’s practiced a lot.

Stig takes 1 day to make a wooden spear. He has a natural way with the tree’s product.

Ug never found the wooden thing easy, his fingers don’t work that way, so when he makes a wooden spear, it takes him 2 days. Stig is equally inept with stone axes. It just doesn’t bend the way his lovely wood does. It takes him 2 days to make one.

Both of them need both tools.

So if they are uncooperative and selfish, they simply make everything for themselves.

1+2+1+2=6 days total work.

However, if they stick to their specialisms, and Ug makes two stones axes, and Stig makes 2 wooden spears and they trade, then the calculation creates a different result.

1+1+1+1=4 days total work.

That’s two extra days created, one each, which they could use to make cave paintings, or practice their craft, or hunt more food, or hump Jane, or each other.

Trade has become outrageously specialized in today’s world. We’ve gone way beyond spears and axes.

What is your specialism?

What can you do that no one else can do? Or what could you do, given enough hard work, that no-one else can?

That’s what makes you special.


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Ewan Townhead

I hope you enjoyed the article. If you're interested further in my work, you can find out more about me here, and my coaching here.

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    I’m loving imagining Stig and Ug’s equal opportunities paleolithic Stone Age ☺️!

    Owning and honing my unique specialism in our social-media obsessed world feels increasingly fraught. How to differentiate my services and yet still fit in and find a market, how to be inspired by others in my field and not disabled by admiration or comparison, how to love and promote what only I can do without sounding like a mirror-kissing egomaniac?

    Increasingly I find myself thinking of myself as a tool (sorry Stig) or a conduit for Presence. Anything that opens me up, aligns me and keeps me clear will automatically be of benefit to my students. I can love the hell out of what I do for a living then. I can dive into the practices that polish me and focus me and widen my range, knowing they serve me and my students and the world.

    This is why I love reading your posts, Ewan. Thanks for meeting me there, and going further.

    • Ewan Townhead

      Susanna – smiling at your post 🙂

      Yes, this is the challenge isn’t it? How to stand out in a market-place full of mega-phones and hyperbolic claims. And yet fully owning the zone of our genius is EXACTLY what will have people in that marketplace find us, and get the help we can provide.

      I am personally in my own process around this too (thus the post about it) 😉


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