Get Real Week #94
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KFC Double Down


Last week I asked

What're your thoughts on whether to double down on strengths or improve on weaknesses? Any examples you can share?

I put all the answers for these many delicious things in this google doc, but put my favorites below 

*If you like the experiment, tell your friends to join. I like meeting interesting people!

**Round 1 of P2P Ted Talks was great! I learned a ton and met a bunch of people on the newsletter. Round 2 is tomorrow 6/28 - if you'd like to come just shoot me a message!

Huan Nguyen said:

"This question spontaneously made me update my beliefs about this problem:

strengths set you apart but weaknesses can ruin you. My [current] position is "get weaknesses 'over the bar', then allocate the rest of the effort into strengths."

Czuee Morey said:

“tl;dr: In the short term double down on your strengths, but in the long term work on improving your weaknesses.

It all depends on what your goals are - if it is for professional development or personal. For professional reasons, like getting a job or a promotion, you are generally looking at the short term and it makes sense to double down on your strengths and sell your best aspects. However, in the long term, it might help to slowly work on your weaknesses.

I was a very shy kid throughout my childhood and most of my teenage. I would rather read books at home than go out with other kids. Also, I was certain that I wanted to become a scientist so I knew I had to focus on studies. However, during college, I joined the Rotaract club on the recommendation of a friend which pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had to organize events, speak in front of an audience and work with others. I actually enjoyed it and knew it was contributing to a more rounded personality, even though I was clear (reiterated by my parents) that it was a distraction from my real goals. Through my Masters and PhD, I continued being involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities and committees. My strengths were still intellectual and analysis related, and I was nowhere near-perfect in my social skills but I was open to speaking to a person sitting next to me, could discuss about varied subjects, and knew how to work in a team to pull off a project. I was mostly doing it for personal gains - to have something else on the side to dabble in when my PhD project is stuck, to get a better world-view or just to make friends.

To my surprise, when I decided to go into a non-research career after my PhD, I realized that my social and people skills were really valued. Most PhDs did not have these skills and had generally considered being involved in different activities a distraction! That set me apart, has helped me to navigate the real world, connect with people and has been a great help in my professional life overall.”

Donald Marcke said:
I suspect you can slot people into different groups based on how they answer this question. Although this is purely observational I would split it like this: 

Group A:
They are unapologetic about their weaknesses and sell their strengths.  They do one thing really well. 
Psychologists call them hedgehogs I think. 

Group B: 
Those that say they are actively working on improving their weaknesses.

Group C: 
Those stuck. Not sure what to do. And so they try to do both. 
(I assume many people fall in this category since performance reviews love to assess the good and the bad and you always have the threat of being fired for the bad.) 

Personally, I would be in group C. 

Personal observation on the level of happiness and productivity of the different groups:
Those in Group A do seem to be the happiest at work. They are usually productive. (Also noticed that if they are really good they get away with things others do not get away with). Since they focus on the positive things in life they are usually optimistic. 

Those in Group B are usually doing something they dislike doing. Productivity drops. I suspect the time invested in getting better at what you are good at is more valuable for everyone in the office. 

Those in Group C do their best to find a balance.
I Personally think the balance should be to meet the minimum requirement for your weakness.
 And spend the other time on your strength. I guess the 80/20 split is appropriate (however it depends on many things)

I assume Ideally everyone does the 80-20 thing but it seems like some people get away with doubling down on strength and ignoring weaknesses. 

In addition, it depends on the company culture or your direct manager what group you are supposed to be in. 
This observation is by no means scientific. Personally, do not know what is best. On one hand, I would love Group A to be right. 
On the other hand, I believe management and company culture decide what is "the right thing to do".

A Real Life Story
There was a sales team that was constantly "crushing" targets while they largely ignored the more mundane tasks. 
The team manager, Chad, had told the team to double down on one target and to (mostly) ignore the mundane parts. By mostly ignore I mean spent a minimum amount of time on these those things. His boss, let's call him Allan was happy since, well $$$ and big $$$ bonuses. (I assume he was pragmatic about it) 
Some time goes by and Allan is fired or leaves (nobody really knows) the company. Lauren replaces Allan, weeks go by and Chad gets fired despite still "crushing" the targets. Because, well, she noticed the mundane things were largely ignored. 
After that, a couple of people on that team left or got fired as well because the new regime wasn't their thing. 

Time goes by and Lauren now loses the job since "the numbers ain't what they used to be". 

The lesson I took away from this event is actually pretty obvious: Your answer to the question above changes based on your management incentives and how you get rewarded. 
This could be the wrong takeaway so do let me know if there is a better lesson to be learned."


What's the best piece of fitness advice you've received or have to give?
  • Diet/meal prepping is like 80% of the battle, a slow cooker is your best friend
  • If you hate cardio like I do, sneak it in by doing HIIT
  • To get big looking arms, it's almost entirely about building big shoulders - not biceps/triceps

For Those Who Just Joined:

For why I'm starting this, here's the full post.

Here's how the process will work:

1) I'll ask a question
2) Reply to this email with your answer (if you feel comfortable doing so)
3) I'll look through the answers and email you individually if I think your answer might be a good one to share. I'll ask if you want to remain anonymous or have your name attached
4) The following week I'll post the top few answers and ask another question.

The formatting and style of this might change over time, but if you have any suggestions please feel free to reach out!


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