Many people strive to be well-rounded in all aspects of their life. When they spot a personal flaw or weakness in talent, they’ll work very, very hard to improve it – often, they’ll spend a vast amount of time and money to make sure that this flaw isn’t as bad as it used to be. Unfortunately, this is entirely the wrong way to go about things, and often leads to frustration and dissatisfaction with the results.
A much better tactic is to work on your strengths. Because here’s the thing: our weaknesses are weaknesses for a variety of reasons. Either we’re lacking an inherent gift for them, or they’re something we really, really hate to work on, and so we never have worked on them, and they’ve languished, undeveloped.
But our strengths! Oh, our strengths. We’re already good at something, and if we work on it, we can be a million times better. You’ll never get to be the best in the world at something by working on your weaknesses – you might be more well-rounded but there’s also a downside: every moment that you spend attempting to improve a weaknesses is a moment that could be spent working on a strength instead, with much more positive results.
Our strengths are things that we’ve either got some inborn talent for, or, as Marcus Buckingham argues, something we love to do, things that make us feel strong. Either way, it’s a much more enjoyable use of time to work on our strengths, and the results pay off in spades — since you’re enjoying the time, it’s easier to get into a state of flow, where you can be more productive and create better work. And every time you do this, you get better and better.
Compare this to working on a weakness, which often feels like slogging through molasses and leaves you glancing at the clock every 30 seconds to see when you can stop working. It’s easy to see which choice pays off better, and is a more enjoyable use of your time.
So, the next time you think that you need to work on a personal weakness – turn it over to somebody else instead, if you can, and take that time and energy and work with your strength instead.