I grew up collecting cards. Baseball, football, basketball, and hockey cards. As a kid, my mom would walk me to the local card shop, and I would spend hours looking at all the best cards in the glass cases. I’d spend my allowance on packs of cards, hoping to find one of my favorite players. Birthday money would bring home one of those cards from the case. At school, we traded cards over lunch.
I realized something collecting all of those cards. Every athlete has different strengths – you could see it when you looked at their card’s stats. On a baseball team, one might be a powerful hitter, and another is a lights-out pitcher. Each brings their own contribution to the field. At the plate, the hitter focuses on scoring runs. From the mound, the pitcher focuses on preventing them. Winning requires both, and when each one channels their strengths, the team’s chances of victory rise.
This dynamic isn’t exclusive to baseball. Think about football, with its quarterbacks, receivers, kickers, and players holding the line. In basketball, you’ve got point guards, centers, forwards, and those players who excel at grabbing rebounds. Step onto the ice, and you’ll find forwards, goalies, and defensive players. Every team has its own set of roles.
Fill those roles with highly skilled individuals, and the result is a winning team.
This concept isn’t exclusive to sports. Consider the team you work with. Certain individuals bring natural strengths in process and structure. Others are more relationally strong. Still others bring creativity and vision to the team. Combine each individual’s natural abilities, and you make the team stronger. Remove any one of those individuals and their strengths from the group, and the team gets weaker.
Great coaches and teams understand this. They build their teams around their role players, letting each one thrive in the areas where they are the strongest. A smart coach doesn’t take a powerful hitter and try to turn them into a pitcher or start with a talented quarterback and try to turn them into a kicker. Why? It takes a lot more work to turn a weakness into a strength than it does to double down on a strength and make it stronger.
I’ve experienced this first-hand. I am creative, visionary, and strategic in the way I think. I value relationships and connecting. These are my strengths. I am not strong in things that require tedious processes. I struggle to keep up with communication the way I would like. Notice that I used the words “tedious” and “struggle” when describing my weaknesses. That’s how those areas feel to me.
For a while, I chased learning to love process management and mastering communication. If I could nail those, I’d be the full package. The thing about chasing your weaknesses is this… it takes a lot of work to try to become something you’re not. It’s much easier to double down on your strengths and ask for help around your weaknesses.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t work on developing our weaknesses. Addressing weaknesses allows you to grow and develop as an individual. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, challenges you to learn new things, and encourages you to adapt to different situations. It’s essential for building resilience and becoming more well-rounded – a core element of personal growth.
Fortunately, I have people on my team who complement me, who are strong in those areas where I am weak, and naturally get excited by them. My strengths complement their weaknesses, and theirs complement mine. Together, we make a great team. Surrounding myself with great teammates has allowed me to focus on staying in my sweet spot.
At the same time, I am working hard to keep my teammates in their sweet spots. I want each of them to play and work where they are naturally strong. There’s no rocket science here. We’re asking pitchers to pitch and hitters to hit – to do what they do best. When we do this, everyone wins individually, and we all win together.
Double down on your strengths and use them to make your team stronger. If you’re a batter, hit home runs. If you’re a pitcher, throw strikes. Do what you do best, and work to position the team around you to play to their strengths. At the same time, don’t take this as a permission slip to stay in your comfort zone. Stretch yourself where it makes sense and look for areas where you can keep growing.
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