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Friday, 16 April 2010

Passionately play to your strengths – Don’t obsess on your weaknesses

Recession biteback 2
Grumpy old Will’s first recommendation in coping with the recession was to encourage imitation, not innovation. Suggestion number 2 is to play passionately to your strengths and broadly ignore your weaknesses.

Regular feedback from colleagues, whether informal or in 360 appraisals, can be generally helpful in improving individual performance, but if the results are handled wrongly the process also carries serious dangers.

Chief of these is the intuitive and tempting kneejerk reaction to listen to well-meaning advice - perhaps even instruction from your boss - to focus on improving your areas of weakness. But this course is not the way to bite back against recession.

Strengths and weaknesses
By the time we reach mature adulthood, whether through nature, nurture or environmental circumstance, most of us have developed a couple of real strengths or things that we are “very good at”. These distinctive competences are likely to have taken us to whatever is our current level of success; and yes, all of us also have weaknesses which we should certainly acknowledge.

Performance improvement
However, the generally pervasive focus on improving performance by dealing with weaknesses, while helpful to some degree in bringing you up to a level of homogeneous comparability with the struggling masses, never ever produces the marked differentiations and uniquely valuable capabilities that you can attain by enhancing your existing strong points.

Don’t aspire to be goodish at everything. There are folks who are highly talented in the areas where you are weak. Leave them to it. Move on and lift yourself out of the pool of satisficing mediocrity by cultivating your distinctive performance strengths.

The way ahead
Aspire, achieve, deliver, study, learn, invest and specialise in your own strongest expert areas. Your boss and colleagues don’t know better this time. Bite back. Stand out from the crowd. Be better – at something! Be yourself and be different.

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