When I was writing Friday’s post about being a Corporate Athlete, I spent some time reflecting on my own “athletic career” that other than being the best right-handed first baseman in Little League, consisted on High School Basketball.
What I remember more than anything about basketball in high school was playing on the same team as the best player in our league. His name was Ben and he wasn’t the tallest, fastest or even the most athletic guy on any team, but he scored the most points, got the most rebounds and carried our team to victory.
The crazy thing about Ben was that he wasn’t good at a lot of the skills important to being a great basketball player. He wasn’t a good shooter and was a terrible ball handler. What made Ben great was rebounding. He had a great instinct for where the ball was going to go and how to get it. Once he got it, he was really good at putting it in the hole from three feet. He made a great career out of being in the right place at the right time and making the most of it. While that’s a great skill to cultivate, it’s not the point of this post.
The point is about how Ben practiced. How much time do you think he devoted to doing the things he was bad at in practice, the shooting and ball handling? Zero. Ben knew that he helped our team best when rebounded and put it back in the basket and that’s where he focused his energy.
If he had put all of his energy into shooting and ball handling, Ben could have made himself average. Average wouldn’t have helped us. Average wouldn’t have won us games. By throwing all of his energy and focus into what he was already really good at, he became great, and it was his greatness that carried us to victory more times than not.
The unfortunate truth is that most of us when we train, try to better develop our weaknesses and ignore our strengths. We practice really hard at the things we aren’t good at and forget about those that we do really well. Worst yet, some of us don’t know what it is that we do really well, to begin with.
All of this focus on our weaknesses most of the time leaves us average when we had it in us to be great.
We all have something that we do really well. It may be a head for numbers, a way with words or an ability to inspire your team, regardless of what it might be, we should spend our energies and our focus on those things. Take our good and make it great. That’s how the greatest in history made it. They found what they did well and then hustled like crazy to make themselves the best at it.
What’s your skill? What are you really good at doing? Once you figure that out, spend your time learning, developing and practicing it until you’re great and don’t worry about your weaknesses. That’s what the average people do.