Focus on your strengths

You’ve probably heard about the famous 10 000 rule (popularized by Malcolm Gladwell). The idea is that if you practice the thing for 10 000 hours, you’ll be a master.

Maybe it’s not so straightforward. What if the “thing” is not your cup of tea? I bring you an example.

Let’s say there’s a computer programmer in some company, and he’s very talented at programming. One day he needs to do a presentation, but he doesn’t want to do it at all. He’s terrible at public speaking.

The management insists. He stumbles through, but it’s a mess.

After the mid-year performance review, the manager concludes that he needs to focus on his public speaking. He is sent to training, and he does indeed becomes better. But not much.

In the next review, his public speaking issue is again brought up. The manager is not happy and insists on his public speaking skills. Somehow his talent in programming is not that remarkable.

No wonder almost everyone hates the mid-year reviews.

The problem with the (typical) story above is that the company doesn’t focus on the strengths of the programmer and shifts the focus to something he’s terrible at. They put a lot of emphasis on the area he’s awful and no stress on what he’s good at. In the end, he will be a mediocre programmer and less than an average public speaker.

If they would focus on what he’s good at and put all the resources in that area, he’d become a superstar programmer. Perhaps not, but probably quite close. Public speaking is not what he does. He does programming. So there’s no point on insisting that he’d get good at something, that he doesn’t like doing at all.

Giving him only very minimal training in the public speaking area is enough. The focus should be on his strength(s) instead. And it should reflect on the performance review too.

We can’t be good at everything, and that’s fine. Einstein wasn’t good at basketball, and he did not care.

No need to waste your time on the areas you’re bad at. You’ll never be an expert at them. You can get good enough, but not the best. You do need talent.

Find your strengths and focus on them.

KRISTJAN