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The following is an abstract from the book G2: Building the Next Generation and part of the curriculum of the G2 Leadership Institute

The principle of “focusing on your strengths” is so prevalent in management literature and coaching programs that it has become second nature to business owners. Time and again, we use phrases such as “It’s not my strength” or “I’m not really good at that.” This implies that since a task is not one of our competencies, we should avoid it, outsource it, delegate it, or even sweep it under the carpet. As a result, we rarely undertake any initiatives or projects that we do not perceive as being part of what we do well.

I often wonder if this method of behavior is a sign of sound strategy or mere conformity. After all, how do we acquire new skills if we never go outside of our comfort zone? If we stayed focusing throughout our lives only on things that we did well, we would still be arranging wooden blocks by color like we did in daycare. Clearly, we are capable of developing new skills. Things we are going to be very good at next year require a nascent and awkward effort today. So shouldn’t we spend some time addressing our weaknesses and turning them into strengths rather than always dodging them and doing the same things we have become comfortable doing?

There is a perception we all share that our characters and the skill sets that we rely on for the rest of our careers are developed earlier in life (although it’s unclear when this process is supposed to stop). We assume that our personalities and skills continue to form up to a certain point in life, after which we have little hope of changing and just play with the cards in our hands. In fact, there was a strong scientific following for this theory all the way until the middle of the twentieth century: Scientists believed that we form our major pathways in our childhoods and that our adult brains are more or less fixed. As Nobel Prize–winning neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal wrote in 1928, “In adult centers the nerve paths are something fixed, ended, immutable.”1