We adults know a secret that we withhold from kids until they’ve taken 15 AP classes, passed their SATs and graduated from an amazing college with a degree in something really practical.
That secret is…most of us are only really good at one or two things. Beyond that, we’re good at some, mediocre at many, and really awful at quite a few. Furthermore, if you try to make a career out of anything that you’re not really good at, you will be miserable.
I am very lucky. As a kid, I pushed myself so hard that my parents rarely put pressure on me to excel at anything. They gave me the freedom to try and fail at lots of things and to move on to something else. For example, I lasted one graceless season in basketball, eight months with guitar lessons, and only two humbling days on the swim team. The only time my dad showed even mild resistance to my quitting was when I asked to opt out of calculus since it wasn’t required to graduate and I already had a full ride academic scholarship waiting for me. But no honor student had ever opted out of advanced math. Why the heck not?
That said, when I found things that I loved and that were a better fit for my body type, brain composition, and interests, I committed and thrived.
Olympic athletes know to play to their strengths. Ever see a tiny discus thrower or huge gymnast? Michael Phelps was lucky to have a coach notice him at a young age and see that he had the ideal body for a swimmer. Phelps could have been a mediocre basketball or soccer player. Instead, he’s a legend.
Yet, in our own lives and in our own teams, how much attention is put toward building up weaknesses? In your last performance review, how much attention was put toward strengths? Instead of concentrating on weaknesses, we should be compensating for them, and using our energy to shore up strengths.
At Brilliance Inc., we’ve always divvied up the tasks by passion and strength. When there are chores to be done, we split those up. We could just divvy things up 50/50 but we’d be miserable, waste a ton of time, and produce lower quality outcomes.
P.S. Dear mom and dad, thank you for letting me acquire a BA in French, and a Masters in Liberal Arts even though you must have wondered daily how I was ever going to land a job that would pay the electricity bill, and even though you secretly thought I should attend Law School. As a result, I have a passion for learning that will be with me forever. Plus, I was able to get great grades from incredible institutions instead of struggling and resenting every moment of college.
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Tell us what you think! How much attention do you put on your weaknesses?