Your Greatest Strength Might Very Well Be Your Greatest Weakness

On a recent podcast episode about personality profiles, I was explaining how your greatest strength (maybe your patience), if overused, can become your great weakness (you wait too long to act). Or if you are a take charge kind of person, that's what people appreciate. But maybe not so much if you're not thoughtful about those decisions.

One of your greatest strengths as a principal is your curiosity as well as your ability to find opportunity everywhere. Put those two things together, though, and you can easily be pulled off mission to explore all kinds of fun, interesting, supposedly lucrative opportunities. Exploring new things is what keeps you alive, especially if competence comes easily for you and boredom sets in long before it would for someone else.

In some ways, you're not a good fit for what the world has become. We're buying a 61-acre piece of property soon, just outside Nashville, and one of my first tasks will be to rebuild a gravel road that's 4/10 of a mile long. I view that as a fun challenge…and an excuse to buy the tractor and implements I've always wanted, too. You know, grunt and do manly things by pulling levers and not really doing any manual labor.

So after it all settles in and the enormity of the task begins to dawn on me, I quickly run to where everyone else does to figure this out: YouTube. Surely there's some farmer with a video camera and too much time on his hands who's laid all this out for me.

And sure enough: hundreds of videos in painstaking detail. Now, during every breakfast I'm watching tractor videos on my iPad instead of reading the NYT and WSJ. Duh.

But I went to the web with a dual expectation. First, I'd find all sorts of detailed, esoteric information and that I'd find it almost instantly. Second, that the information would be free.

So how in the heck do you run a knowledge-based business in a world where there's already so much knowledge, quick and free? How do you expect to change your clients' lives and make a lot of money in the process?

I'll tell you what won't work, and that's to keep getting distracted by your curiosity and your conquering attitude. All that new learning will scratch those itches, but it won't be terribly useful or lucrative. That sort of exploration is fantastic on your own time (our new farm) but it's a lousy way to make a living (e.g., if I started hiring myself out to build gravel driveways for other people).

You know what I mean, too:

  • Let's add this service offering. This new client asked if we do it, and I'll bet if we add it to the menu, we'll come across someone down the road who wants to buy it, too.
  • Let's branch out to this industry. There's got to be lots of additional opportunity over there. Besides, our people are getting bored.
  • Hey, we should develop our own product. I can't believe no one has thought of this yet.

No, my friend. The gold and diamonds are deeper. You've already got a great start in your dig and the world doesn't need another bored generalist.

Dig deeper and deeper and deeper.

And when you've started to make some money and things feel great, don't trash all that progress by reinventing your firm's positioning. Instead, reinvent the things you do for the same hungry clients who are desperate to hear your insight and objectivity.

Your greatest strength (entrepreneurial curiosity), if overused, might be your greatest weakness (mature averagenessness, if you will).

Dig deeper and find the good stuff, becoming less interchangeable with your peers.

  • Secret Tradecraft of Elite Advisors

    Secret Tradecraft of Elite Advisors

    Covert Techniques For A Remarkable Practice

    Buy Now