There is a school of thought that professes strengthening the strengths to grow in life. And there is another that asks us to get out of the comfort zone of strengths and take action to recover from the weaknesses. The arguments in favour of each school of thought are compelling. What does one do?
I do not think, it’s an either-or situation. Rather it’s a situation where one has to follow both the approaches.
Possibly, the practitioners and gurus of management in our times have started liking the virtues of the digital world so much that they recommend one option and reject the other. The world appears in black and white while the truth is that all natural processes around us are analogue and continuous; they are not binary. The ON/OFF situation is easy to deal with; possibly, that is why people find it convenient to think in simple terms. Possibly it’s their comfort zone? Let’s try handling the tyranny of AND!
Running on a Treadmill doesn’t take me ahead!
A child does well in Maths by scoring a centum. Everyone appreciates her; she becomes known for her strength in Maths in her school; she helps the weaker children in solving the sums in the book. Maths is her strength. Where does it take her – nobody knows! What we are sure of is a centum in the exam. Scoring a centum in Maths exam becomes her comfort zone or the strength! It is not necessarily true that she is a wizard in Maths.
This is like running on a treadmill with a particular pattern or program. If she has to go forward, she needs to run on the roads outside and deal with the vagaries of running in the streets and roads that she didn’t run earlier on.
A leader who is able to run an organization well for a period of time may or may not be able to consistently deliver the same results because she might not have all the strengths required to deal with all the uncertainties that come along the road! If one aspires to grow, one has to keep looking for new challenges that test one’s assumptions and set practices in the new situation. Sticking to familiar grounds for too long could make one outdated and rusty. In essence, change your job at regular intervals – within your current organization or search for a new one!
So, it is important that one goes out of the comfort zone and at the same time, keeps challenging one’s strengths to fine-tune them!
Taking the bull by the horn is good, but don’t be over-zealous!
There are times, one has an opinion about how the other person should carry out the job. It is good to express the opinion, make a point and try to influence the other irrespective of the other person’s credibility and past track record. That’s taking the bull by the horn. However, there are situations when one crosses the line and tries to take the position of an expert about another person’s work. That’s utter disregard for the role of the other person and hence, over-zealotry.
In organizations, CXOs are expected to have opinions about how each function or business must deal with the challenges faced by them. That is why they sit on the same table to help one another achieve the goal of the organization. However, in cases where we notice zealotry, the organization becomes dysfunctional.
By the argument that one must get out of the comfort zone and expand one’s area of strength, some go a bit too far and create distress. So, it’s important that one should expand one’s circle of strength and recognize that all territories need not be conquered. The Fine Balance between venturing into uncharted territory and focusing on one’s strength is required to grow up.
The tyranny of AND:
It’s not easy; it’s natural that the journey of growth is multi-dimensional. It is a tyranny to mult-task. That is how life is! One has to figure out which zone is best left untouched and be allowed to remain weak. All weaknesses need not be vanquished, but some need to be worked upon. And at the same time, there are enough strengths on the plate which need to be worn on the sleeves and applied on different situations. That’s the recipe of growth!