Why ignoring your weaknesses and focusing on strengths is bad advice

You are browsing the web and chanced upon an article of a multi millionaire giving some advice on his success. He claimed the key to his success was focusing on his strengths and ignoring his weaknesses.

I didn’t know how computers work, and still don’t. But I delegated it to my team of engineers. Now I have built a million dollar e-commerce store!

It was how I succeeded, he declared boldly.

Delegate-able and non delegate-able weaknesses

If you are not good in finance, you can hire an accountant to do your finances for you.

If you don’t have time to pick investments, you can invest in an ETF, mutual fund or investment plan and let others do the heavy lifting for you.

If you are not talented in sports, but you are great in music, by all means be a musician.

However…

No one can do the exercising for you if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and have high cholesterol

No one can speak on your behalf if you are required to do an important presentation to your big boss but suck at public speaking.

Well actually they can… and they would also be getting the credit and the promotions.

If you constantly fail to get along well with people, your career will stagnate at some point no matter how technically brilliant you are. And your social relationships would suffer as well.

You can focus on your strengths, but only up to a point

At the time of this writing, the Delta coronavirus variant is surging. Countries are tightening their borders to buy time for citizens to get their vaccines. And they are trying desperately to increase the capacity of ICU beds.

In Singapore where I live, we have about 220 beds available for COVID patients. Initially I was puzzled. Why was it so hard to add a few more beds here and there? I’m sure cost isn’t the main issue in adding another 100 ICU beds.

It turns out that the bottleneck wasn’t in the equipment, but in the manpower. At a time when every country in the world is scrambling for trained medical personnel, nurses and doctors are in short supply.

Which brings us to the main point – you can focus on your strengths, but only up to a point. And that point is when your non delegate-able weaknesses become an unavoidable bottleneck.

And the most successful people know this

Warren Buffet had a fear of public speaking right until the age of 20.

“Just the thought of it made me physically ill…I would literally throw up”, recounts Gillian Zoe Segal who interviewed him for her book “Getting There”.

So what was the thing that changed it for Warren Buffet? Attending a public speaking course, and continuing to practice after that.

“That $100 course gave me the most important degree I have. It’s certainly had the biggest impact in terms of my subsequent success”

One small step for you, one big step for your life

The way to fully harness our strengths is to ensure our weaknesses don’t become bottlenecks.

If not you’ll be riding a bicycle with the brakes on. No matter how big and developed your thigh muscles are, it will be terribly inefficient.

So here’s a question for you to think about

What is the one thing that would change your life today if you committed to working on it?

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