Do you really think Tiger Woods logs practice hours just to maintain what comes easiest to him? Flip Flippen says forget about discovering your strengths, instead it's your weaknesses that hold you back from achieving your personal best.
The truth is, Tiger Woods is not working on his weaknesses at all. He's identified his strengths and is spending an excruciating lot of time and effort to fine-tune those strengths.
At 39 years young, I've figured out very few things in life, but here are a handfull:
- It's virtually impossible for people to change. But it's not impossible to people to adjust – sometimes they simply need a gentle push.
- Find out what it is that you love and what you excel at… and figure out how to make a living at it. You'll never be happier.
- Leaders that focus on your shortcomings aren't leaders at all. True leaders understand what people are good at and they align goals with capabilities. No two people are the same and should never, ever be compared to each other.
- Leaders that identify an employee can not be successful will do that employee the greatest favor by providing them a direction where they can succeed, even if that's out the door. It's cruel to put people in a position of failure and keep them there.
- When you provide people with the opportunity to succeed, they will rarely fail you.
Flip asks, “If you believe me, or even if you don't for that matter, answer this question: What is the number one thing holding you back from higher performance and fulfillment?”
Flip thinks it's your weaknesses that hold you back. I don't think it is at all. I believe the number one thing holding you back is that you haven't identified and found a path to fully utilize your strengths.
I'm a crappy golfer. Tiger Woods is a great golfer. If I spend my entire life trying to improve my golf game, I will never meet Tiger Woods' game. I'm not going to waste time on bettering my golf game – I'll spend more time on becoming a great technologist and consultant. That's what I'm good at, that's what I love… and that's what feeds my family. I want to figure out what it will take to get to the top of my game – since I recognize that I'm already great at it.
The difference between 99.9% accuracy and 100% accuracy is only 0.1%. But it's that 0.1% that requires the most focus and effort to overcome. Sometimes it can never be overcome. Tiger Woods has identified his strengths that have brought him to 99.9% and he expends all of his energy trying to master that last 0.1%. He may spend the rest of his career trying and may never actually get there. Key to his success, though, is that he understands what his strengths are and has confidence that he can absolutely push himself to 100%.
One of my earlier managers put it simply. A wrench will never be good at being a hammer and a hammer will never be good at a wrench. If you're a leader, figure out what you have in your toolbox and use it the right way. If you're just working on yourself – figure out if you're a wrench or a hammer.
I recently had a person sit me down and, concerned, he let me know what I wasn't good at. I think that he was expecting that I would argue or be upset. I quickly smiled and looked at him and said, “I agree with you!”. The fact is, what I wasn't good at isn't what I wanted to do nor was it what I was supposed to be doing!
Flip writes, “To be our best, we can?and must?learn how to minimize our behavioral constraints while maximizing our strengths because real success demands more than talent and ability.”
I would reword this and say, “To be our best, we can?and must?learn how to maximize our strengths because real success demands more than talent and ability.”
Case in point is Michael Jordan, arguably one of the greatest champions of our day. Michael Jordan made it to the top of his game and felt that he could do no better. He made it to his 100%. As soon as he did that, he turned to baseball. He quickly figured out that he wasn't going to be a great ballplayer.
IMHO, once Michael Jordan identified that, although he was a good baseball player, he would never be a great baseball player. He left the game he loved and returned to his strengths. Today, Michael Jordan is still a champion. Recognizing his strength would no longer be basketball, he's identified that business was his next game to concur, and he's working on that 0.1% to take him to the top.
Identify your strengths and maximize them. Don't waste time on your weaknesses. If you are able to improve your weaknesses, the best you can hope for is average. Nobody wants to be average.
According to Wikipedia, Tiger Woods enjoys working out, boating, water sports, fishing, cooking and car racing. You don't suppose Tiger will be running for Mr. Universe soon, The Bass Masters, or the Indianapolis 500 soon, do you? Yea, I don't think so, either.