How many times have you heard the phrase, “Jack-of-all trades, master of none?” Obviously this is a popular phrase, and you may have even used it to describe your own wide range of abilities. If you’re like me, you have a lot of great ideas that span a wide range of topics. If left unchecked, however, this tendency can be very detrimental.
Different authors have addressed this subject in different ways, whether it’s the “Hedgehog Concept” (Collins, 2011) or the push to identify your greatest strengths (Rath, 2013). Whether corporately or personally, there are obvious benefits to identifying and focusing on your strengths.
The basic concept is that you should work within your strengths, focusing on the areas in which you are the most skilled. Personally, this means that you should identify your greatest skills and abilities and then work primarily in those areas. If working on a team, you should then seek team members who have strengths in different areas, so that your weaknesses are mitigated through the strengths of others on your team.
Corporately, you should determine which area your organization can be the best, and focus on that niche. Whether it’s quality, price, scale, or other metric, whatever your organization does (or can do) the best, is where the focus should be placed.
By focusing on your strengths, you can turn a strength into an elite ability.
Personally or professionally, the “shotgun” method does not work. If spread too thin, you will hit mediocrity (at best) in each area. Consider how many world-class athletes graduated at the top of their class in college? Could it be that there just isn’t enough time to study to achieve elite grades and train for elite athletic performance simultaneously?
So here’s the short challenge: Identify your strengths and focus on them. It’s the only way you’ll ever become elite.