The conventional wisdom of working on your strengths and ignoring your weaknesses is no longer relevant in today’s reality. We are still caught up in linear thinking of embracing one thing at the expense of the other. The protectors of this philosophy contend that instead of wasting your time working and worrying over your weaknesses, you better work on developing your strengths. They go on explaining that: why change who you are when you can become more of who you are. But, to work by the new rules, you need to work on the two dimensions simultaneously. On the one hand, becoming great by leveraging your strengths and becoming good by improving your weaknesses. The old complacent philosophy of either/or must be replaced by the vibrant and relevant both/and practice.
When focusing solely on our strengths they end up being a weakness. Think of yourself as a salesman and your manager tells you that your strength is your communication and social skills and that’s the thing you got to develop. Your weakness, on the other hand, is that you are not performing well in closing business deals. You ignored this weakness and consider it irrelevant. By developing your social skill intensely, you might become almost Machiavellian and manipulative. Still, being a weak closer, which is the main determinant of you success, is left idle and undeveloped.
Self-awareness is the first step in your self-improvement. You need to utilize your strength in communication skills to build confidence that will help you overcome your weakness in closing the deals. Your job is to be great and the best in the world in terms of this strength, and also your job is to be good at closing the deal. By working on these two fronts you become integrated and unstoppable in your work and in your life. Adversely, when you deny your weakness of closing the business deals, you won’t make a success in your professional life which in turn might shake and affect your social life.
The football match of the century is an example of the importance of working on the two fronts. It was the most important and interesting match in the history of football. The match was held in the year 1982 during FIFA World Cup. The match was between Brazil and Italy. Brazilians, at this competition, were being looked at as “God’s chosen footballers.” They, unarguably, had the best players in the world at that time. Their strength was in their strikers and their offence line. Their weakness was in their goal keeper and their defense. When the Brazilian football manager, Tele Santana, was asked about his weak defense, he responded by saying that what he cares for is his offence line. He even went on saying that, “if we received a goal we will hit back with 3 at least.”
The Italian team, led by their manager Enzo Bearzot, was not that powerful comparing to the Brazilians. But the Italians where smartly balanced, thanks to the ingenuity of the General Bearzot. The Italians are well-known, since the beginning of the football game, with their solid defense but they lack strong strikers in the offence line. Bearzot knows that matches can’t be won without a first-class striker. Therefore, he summoned the dangerous Italian striker Paolo Rossi to join the team before the championship. Now, the Italians have no weakness, while Brazilians ignored their weakness in their defense. Contrary to all expectations, the match ended with the victory of the Italian team with 3 goals to 2 goals to Brazil. What is interesting is that Paolo Rossi was the only one of the Italians who scored the 3 goals.
When you focus solely on playing to your strengths you ignore a serious area of your growth. That area is your weakness. Your development and maturity will start the moment you decide to play on your strengths along with improving your weaknesses.