Strengths or Development Areas? where to spend your time

Strengths or Development Areas? where to spend your time

Conventional wisdom asks us to become well rounded individuals.  Which is an approach, but not necessarily a good one if you want to reach your potential.

Should you spend your time on building on a strength or improving a development area (call it weakness or whatever you want)?

Before we answer the question, let’s take an example: Let’s say you’re in school and receive 5 marks: A, C, C, C, F; on which course would you focus on?

Conventional wisdom says to spend the time on the F.  While that is true to a degree, consider that process.

  • You probably got an F because you didn’t like the course
  • The subject matter was hard to understand
  • The reading was dry
  • You maybe get a tutor who painstakingly helps you turn that F to an E, the D then C
    • probably with many excuses, groans and grumbles in the process…
  • But you did it; you got it up to a C.

Now what if we went against conventional wisdom and spent that extra time on your strength, but in a different way than you might think.

  • Take a look at the A and try to understand why you learned that material so well
  • Was that material really more interesting?  what about the material was more interesting?
  • Or perhaps it was the way the material was taught?  The delivery method or some other aspect
  • Now teach that understanding of your strength and see if you can apply that to the F subject
  • Could you learn it differently?  approach the material or the problems in a different way?
  • Now, can you take that understanding and get yourself to a C
    • You’ll find that you would have done that a lot faster than you did in the first scenario

The interesting thought now, is what do you do with the extra time?  Apply it to your strengths and see if you can take it to the next level.

Here’s another way of thinking about how spending more time on a strength versus a development area adds value.  The typical  definition of a strength is something you are good at” and an alternative definition is “something that makes you stronger”.   Think about that for a minute.  You’ve
probably had those moments where after doing or accomplishing something, you felt invigorated as well as mentally (perhaps even physically) stronger.  You sometimes have those “in the zone” or “flow” moments where time passed by so fast, and you almost can’t wait to do more of that (whatever that is).  Now if something made you want to keep doing “that” over and over again you could probably see how that repetition would eventually make it something you
are good at and it just snowballs…


Most great people have found a way to focus on their strengths.  That’s not to say they do not have development areas, everyone does, but instead of ignoring them, great people make them irrelevant.  They often partner with someone whose own strengths are the opposite of theirs.  Think about it: Jobs had Wozniak, Gates had Balmer, Hewlett had Packard, Proctor had Gamble (I couldn’t find anything to say that they had complementary personalities but believe they would have in order to have made P&G as successful a company as it is).

So back to our question: Should you spend your time on building on a strength or improving a development area? The answer is: spend it on the development area to the point where it becomes irrelevant (which could be as simple as finding a partner whose strengths are exactly your development areas), then focus your remaining time on your strengths.


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