I’ve said here before the real picture is that you can spend hundreds of hours working in areas where you’re not competent or skilled and you’ll only ever be average.
So should you ignore your weaknesses entirely? No.
For me, this is when I work smarter, not harder. Being smart about my weaknesses positions me to do meaningful work.
And being smart about my weaknesses means I categorize them as either essential or nonessential.
Essential weaknesses are necessary parts of the job, dream, or calling. For example, Say communication is a weakness of yours. Well communication is necessary in almost everyone’s job. You can’t just stop talking to people and sending emails. Communication, then, is an essential weakness. You can’t stop doing it and still be successful, even if you focus on your strengths entirely.
Nonessential weaknesses are things that can be ignored and the vision still achieved. If I’m a mid-level manager who doesn’t have a knack for administration, then I can (and should) stop doing it. (I’ll explain what to do instead in a minute.) Nonessential weaknesses can be ignored at little or no peril to the mission or calling. The upside is greater than any potential downside.
Categorizing your weaknesses does nothing for you if you don’t then act accordingly.
In the case of essential weaknesses, this either means spending an appropriate amount of time honing the skill, or setting aside realistic chunks of time to complete the tasks I know will take you longer since I’m not particularly good at them.
For nonessentials, this means doing one of two things. First, I can outsource the task to someone who has it as a strength. This is a win-win. I get relieved of a nonessential and they get to play to their strength.
Second, I can ignore the task altogether. This isn’t always an option, but when it is it’s worth considering. Think of a report you always do that’s not being acted on. If it’s not being acted on by anyone, what’s the point in having it? It would be wise to stop doing it altogether. The upside is having more time to do work that matters.
Being strategic about my weaknesses is a constant process of experimentation and trial and error. But I can be smarter about them. And it seems I’m better off when I am.