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Improvement

Strength vs weakness

There are two trains of thought on what you should work to improve about yourself and your business: strength vs weakness. Some say you should work on your strengths. Others recommend working on your weaknesses. As you might expect, this isn’t a binary choice – and there’s something missing.

Work on your strengths

The work on your strengths folks, which I am mostly on the side of, describe the tendency for each of us to have a specific skill or competency that is notably better than everything else we do.

This isn’t to imply that we’re bad at every other thing we do. Instead, the idea is that we’re much better at a specific type of work than most people. Because of our skill in this area, we should focus exclusively (or as much as possible) on those tasks.

There is speculation that the work we’re really good at happens to be the work we really enjoy. Naturally, there are exceptions, ie: some of us are good at work we really don’t enjoy.

You might be tempted to think that you don’t need to work on your strengths because you’re the best in your industry, or at your company. Sometimes you can get away with that. Other times, you’re asking for it.

If you’re the best quarterback on Tampa Bay Bucs team, and decide not to work on your strengths, what happens to you when the Bucs sign Tom Brady? If you’re so good, why did the team sign him?

Work on your weaknesses

In contrast to the “work on your strengths” proponents, there are some who advise that you should work to improve your weaknesses – the things that you / your company do poorly, if at all. The idea is that these things become your Achilles’ heel, so you should work to improve them so that they don’t become your downfall.

If customer service is your / your company’s weakness, you should certainly work on it – unless you’ve calculated weak customer service into your entire business model.

While that’s not my recommendation, I make note of it because some businesses are built around letting certain things go in favor of others the business finds more important. Low-price-centric businesses are often an example of this. You probably don’t expect good customer service at a store called “Cheapest Stuff Town” and your expectations will likely be confirmed.

In many cases, your weaknesses don’t matter so much. Until they do. We’ll get back to that.

Decide using work value

Some in the “work on your strengths” camp are all about the value of the work. They will coach you to never mow your yard, for example. The idea is that it’s “$10 an hour” work & your time is worth more, so outsource that work so that you can use that time to attend to $50, $100, or even $1000 an hour work. Yes, $1000 an hour work does exist and it doesn’t necessarily mean you bill someone that much.

As you might imagine, there’s a spectrum here, not a binary decision. For some, that hour following the mower around the yard gives you quiet time. By quiet time, I mean mentally quiet time to ponder decisions and things that merit deep thought, not that you have a silent mower.

Extreme proponents speak almost as if they’d outsource lovemaking if it took time away from work. Be careful about extremes.

Sure, pay $35 for someone to mow your yard if you despise mowing, particularly if you’ll actually make good use of that newly-freed hour.

Some weaknesses are best delegated. Work you despise. Tasks that don’t require your expertise. Things you’re seriously bad and/or slow at. Work that, once delegated, opens time for work that no one else can do except you. And yes, work that you might do because it has to be done, which takes time away from high value work you could be doing.

The ability to delegate the right tasks to the right people is a superpower worth improving upon.

And yet, there’s nuance

What tends to go unmentioned in strength vs weakness discussions is fundamentals. Whether they’re your strength or weakness – they’re an undeniable requirement. Houses have foundations or they crumble. Business people need foundational skills & knowledge, or they likely fail. For example, the need to understand a balance sheet & income statement is important, but it doesn’t mean you need to gain CPA skills.

Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash