Well, this idea certainly flies in the face of conventional wisdom!

I’m sure that you, like me, have read and heard all your life that you must capitalize on your strengths to be successful.  Certainly, this is the accepted common-sense approach to life and usually “common sense” is correct.  While it is valuable to understand your strengths and “play to them,” I’d like to offer a different perspective.

When I was a skinny teenager afraid of bigger kids and bullies I looked for a way to not only defend myself but avoid the problem in the first place.  I discovered martial arts in the process and learned how one skinny person could reliably defeat bigger foes and many bigger foes simultaneously.  I realized I couldn’t out muscle the bullies, but I was faster than they were.  I learned I could hit them many times before they could recover, and I could use their size against them and to my advantage.  For the first time I realized my weakness had tremendous value.

In business if we don’t understand our weaknesses and only focus on our strengths we inevitably find trouble.  I find that most agency owners are excellent sales people and can sell more insurance than they can take care of.  Ultimately this leads to client dissatisfaction, defection and growth either stops or goes backwards.  If the agent understands this from the beginning, she can focus on finding people who complement her strength by bringing their own strengths to her weakness.  This is a powerful formula for never ending success.

Unfortunately, if we don’t understand this, we will focus on “systems” or “processes” or other means to deal with our weakness.  Not that there is anything wrong with this approach, but in my experience, it isn’t sufficient.

What is necessary to build and sustain success after we understand what we lack is to find the person(s) whose strengths and weaknesses complement our own.  When we do this, we move from thinking about “what” or “how” to “who”.  This is a subject Dan Sullivan explores in his book “Who Not How” available here: www.strategiccoach.com/go/whonothow.

The more I work on this idea the more I realize that I’m not equipped to backstop my weaknesses.  I need someone else to help me.  That is how I came to be in the national karate championships at the age of fourteen.  I learned to cooperate with those who had the strength of bigness to magnify my own strengths of quickness and agility.  The reliable result was winning.  It took me a long time to understand that the principle is the same in business and to build a company on that principle, but the result has been two decades of increasing growth and opportunity for us and dozens of others.

What are your weaknesses?  “Who” can make those into strengths for you?

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