Should you focus entirely on becoming great at your strengths or try to improve your weaknesses? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Unless you are a heroin addict, focus on your strengths.
If you have a really debilitating weakness, focus on that. Otherwise, focus solely on your core strengths ... and keep focusing on them. Go deep rather than go broad.
In the winner-take-all world that we live in, you want to aspire to be the very best you can be.
Of course, that means you need to wisely pick what you will go deep on. No sense getting great at something that will not have much value in the future. For instance: let's say you are a great athlete if you work hard, you have a decent shot at becoming the very best lacrosse player in the world. You also could become a really good baseball player and maybe even get to the major leagues ... but you'll never be the best in the world at baseball. You have a hard decision.
You need to first figure out what will be very valuable in the future. Is the value of a lacrosse player increasing? Will it become the new hot sport of the future? Will that lead to the fame and glory you want?
The safe move is to focus on baseball. Baseball was needed in the past and decent chance it will be needed in the future. But you may have some unique insight into lacrosse. And no fun playing it safe.
If you are doing the full game-theory analysis, you also need to understand what most people in your situation would choose. Will they choose safety over glory? By understanding the competition (everyone else in the world) you can make decisions where the outcome of becoming great goes up significantly ... because you can choose to focus your time on building strengths in an area that few other talented people are focused on. Once you do that, you are half-way there. The next step is to pick the area that will be valuable in the future.
Another really hard thing: just because an area was valuable in the past does not mean it will be valuable in the future. In fact, the MOST valuable things to focus on were usually not the things that were most valuable in the past.
One thing is for sure: if you spend your time focusing on your weaknesses, you'll never ever become great at anything.