This question was always stuck on my mind for years.
“Should you focus on your strengths or weaknesses?”
Before I can answer your question think about this for a minute.
This represents your life, it’s your pulse beating. It’s represented by highs and lows. There is no way to change that, you could never live only on the highs or lows independently. The essence of life is a rhythmic mix of these two.
Now, what is this?
This is death. This is lethargy. This is stillness. It’s just a flat line. An average of the highs and lows which sum up to nothing.
The same metaphor could be applied to your life’s purpose. Our purpose is defined by our contribution to the world. It’s not about taking something, but about giving something, this is what gives us a sense as human beings.
Businesses, architecture, families, industry, education they were all created for the purpose of giving. The consequence of all of these is relationships, love, money, knowledge that are given back to us in exchange.
Now you can focus all your life on your weaknesses, to try and cover them up and patch them as much as possible as you can. In the meantime, your strengths, your potential remains untapped because it was never pushed beyond its tipping point. You were too preoccupied with becoming a flat line, your highs were never pushed to the extreme or maintained, you just fiddled around with your insecurities and weak points, trying to bring everything to the same level. Congratulations! You achieved flatness. You are now average and dead.
Now imagine if you focused on your strengths. There is a rule that derives from the art of being self-aware. If you focus on your strengths and push your limits you, let’s say you improve 200%. The discipline and methodology that got you to hone in on your strengths and expand them will also drag the rest of you to improve a bit. Your weaknesses will grow from 5% to 10%. Not a huge drastic difference but it’s the same as the pareto rule: 80% of your results will be brought by 20% of the contribution. Make that 20% focus on your strengths and the rest will follow. Mastering self-awareness allows you to also bring exchange to the table of negotiation. If you are a strong and remarkable in a couple of things people will be attracted to you, they will want to help you, they will want to cover your weaknesses. If you are a strong CEO with a powerful vision, people will want to help you achieve that vision even if you can’t go into the nitty gritty with them.
There is all this talk about A – players, B, C and D players. Everyone falls in a different category depending on the activity they are carrying on. So while you are preoccupied moving from D to C in a specific category you are ignoring the fact that you could move from B to A in another one.
Instead of trying to be an average of nothingness, be a mountain of a couple of peaks of strength, become a person of value and people will want to be around your presence and take part in making that vision a reality.
Self-awareness doesn’t only mean betting on your strengths, it also means accepting your shortcomings. Your weaknesses are there for a reason, to steer you towards your greatness.
The moment you accept them, you accentuate your strengths and your life goes on the offense.