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When it’s wise to neglect your weaknesses

“Do not neglect the gift which is in you, [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you…” (1 Timothy 4:14, Amplified Bible )

This verse recently got me thinking about a counter-intuitive lesson I learned while starting a business a couple of years ago.

Being the creative type, I could cook up a great product, but completely sucked at sales, accounting and a couple of other skills needed to run a business. So I immediately hired a business coach with the goal of mastering those areas.

While my coach was invaluable in getting me to think and act strategically, improve internal processes and close a few more sales, one thing became clear: No matter how much I worked on my weaknesses, they remained my weaknesses. Meanwhile, I neglected my core strengths because I spent so much time and energy polishing those weak spots.

One day I shared that concern with Tiffany, a seasoned marketer and business strategist. Tiffany told me something that still rings in my ears today (to be fair, I think she got it from some best-selling business book):

On a scale of 0 to 10, let’s say you were born a 5 in one talent area. You work hard at it, and over time, you climb up to a 7. The problem is that the world only pays for a 10.

Now, I’m not saying we should give up on bettering ourselves – on the contrary: Added knowledge, wisdom and practice are essential to success in any facet of life. The problem is that many of us are miserable and overwhelmed because we’re trying to pattern our lives, habits and performance after someone else’s. The truth is we make the most impact (whether in profits or people’s lives) when we operate in our innate gifts.

Dan Miller, best-selling author of No More Mondays, agrees: “How sad that we often diminish our best gifts by struggling valiantly to develop in someone else’s area of ability.” He adds, “Find an area where you run like the wind, with few competitors. Then you’ll rise from mediocrity and experience uncommon success.”

The advice proved true in my experience. I found success by focusing on what I do best — my “10” areas — and joining forces with professionals whose skills complement mine.

Along these lines, Dan offers the following rule of thumb for our work strategy:

  • Work where you are the strongest 80 percent of the time.
  • Work where you are learning 15 percent of the time.
  • Work where you are weak 5 percent of the time.

What strength have you neglected while trying to develop a weakness? What weakness can you delegate, delete, trade or outsource so you can focus on your gifts?


7 Responses

  1. It’s interesting to me that he suggests working in our weaknesses at all. I think that’s wise.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Mark! I’m honored that you stopped by!

  3. First of all, love the name of your blog, and secondly, welcome to High Calling Blogs.

    I really appreciated this concept that you highlight when I was working in HR, and we went through the Gallup book. Not to mention, personally, it’s a bit of relief to know that my time is better spent focusing on my strengths, rather than beating myself up over my weaknesses.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Spaghettipie – thanks for the kind words and the visit!

  5. […] that our strengths is what is going to make this whole thing work. Sure, we all have weaknesses but instead of trying to cover up and fix them, we’re going to focus on where we have strengths. We accept one another’s weaknesses (a […]

  6. This is a decision that everyone should take very seriously. I don’t think it’s always an easy decision either. Sometimes there are certain skills or projects that are just too important to avoid. If neglecting your weaknesses was your primary goal, it could be very easy to take it too far and avoid anything that you find at all difficult.

    On the other hand, it’s a big benefit to everyone to work on the projects that are easiest for them. That’s where good team leaders come in. They can divide up the tasks among the team members to make sure that each task goes to the person who can do it best. The end result is better and people are happier.

  7. What great advice! As I look back over my work experience, I had a boss once that gave me projects primarily based on what I could do well, but then there was always this small nugget of something new, something that I needed to learn or work on.

    Over time, I looked back and could see HUGE growth in my skills, and today I excel in areas that I was once clueless in.

    Today, I try my best to manage others the same way…

    Great post!

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