Play to your strengths or develop your weaknesses?

There are two schools of thoughts in terms of maximizing your potential, and both have merit. They go something like this:

1. Play to your strengths: If you are good at something, stick with it and become great at it. Your time will be much more productive if you are working out of your sweet spot.

2. Develop your weaknesses: Find the areas that need improvement, and turn those into your strengths. You will be a more fully developed person with fewer weaknesses holding you back.

As I’ve studied athletes through the years, I’ve noticed that the really great ones tend to follow the second school of thought, people like Michael Jordan.

Jordan had three main flaws when he entered the NBA: he was a poor shooter, he was weak physically and he was a poor defender. When you ask people about Jordan now, a decade after his last game in the NBA, people will tell you about how great of a scorer he was, his incredible strength and his defensive prowess.

Conversely, those who are average tend to stick with the first school of thought, relying on their natural ability to keep them afloat, so to speak. They are able to compete, but they never reach greatness because their weaknesses eventually caught up to them.

If good is what you are pursuing, then just stick to your strengths. You’ll enjoy life and the fruit of your natural ability, and you’ll probably do just fine.

However, if greatness is your goal, you must honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses, and find ways to develop your weaknesses into strengths. This approach will take you from good to great over time.

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