In my consistent quest for self-awareness, I was chatting with my life coach and we were talking about how we always respond to negative things about ourselves as if they are something we need to improve. As in we need to constantly improve ourselves, get better and better each moment, day, week, month, year… YAWN. Is there anything more boring than that? (Oh right, a hamster on a wheel, that’s right, going. no.where.)
The need to constantly improve ourselves, and have our present or future selves be “better” than our past selves, means that we are competitive with ourselves. When we constantly improve ourselves, we spend a lot of time trying to overcome our weaknesses.
Is there a winner in this self-competition? Nope.
We lose twice: once by thinking we need to improve, and again by spending time and energy trying to overcome the weak areas that need improvement when we should be-could be-would be capitalizing on our creative strengths.
Einstein is not known for his interpersonal skills (most of his relationships were horrible), he is known for his development of innovative theories in physics. Same with Steve Jobs. The guy was an jerkface, being mean to people, but he helped invent some cool technologies.
Creativity means capitalizing on your strengths and not wasting time and energy on the areas where the payoff for the time and energy invested aren’t very high. That is because creativity takes resources – time, energy, and other stuff. In fact, creativity can take a LOT of time and a LOT of effort because it is based on trying something new; the attempt at creative problem solving could be wrong and the outcome is often unknown so the solution may need to be tried over and over. The more time and effort you are able to dedicate to being creative the more likely you are to be creative. And, the payoff for increasing time and effort toward being creative in the areas of your strengths is even higher.
Businesses are the same way. Businesses have creative strengths and weaknesses in the culture, and skills and personalities of their employees. Those strengths taken together define their creativity sweetspot yet most businesses don’t concentrate on what they do well — they concentrate on their weaknesses (i.e. often where their competitors are doing well) thereby missing their creative sweetspot. It’s been my experience to work for companies in the software industry who want to “be more like [insert latest hot company]” instead of believing in their strengths and developing solutions and markets based on their strengths.
If we chase our weaknesses, we chase something we will never have. We are greyhounds perpetually chasing the wagging rabbit fur in circles around the track.
Give up on your weaknesses. Just give up! Throw in the towel! Admit them right now and say “I suck at [something]. So WHAT?”
And then take the time and energy and put it toward your strengths, and hone them, which is much more constructive.
And don’t be a jerkface. 🙂