Stärken stärken

Nice and handy term. Looks very german. Essentially, it means to build on your strengths (as opposed to mitigating weaknesses).

Time and again when people are struggling with their next career steps, trying to understand where their path leads, or who are unhappy with the options that present themselves, they turn to self-discovery. And in doing so, they invariably are confronted with their weaknesses. Our knee-jerk reaction is to tackle those head-on and mitigate them.

Don't do it.

Or, at the very least, be intentional about it.

I have a colleague who is in just such a situation right now. She's found some areas she calls “weaknesses” and that's where her development focus ended up.

When I suggested, she should not do that but focus on “Stärken stärken”, she was confused: Aren't people supposed to mitigate their weaknesses first?

I asked her a simple question and her eyes went wide:

Do you want to stand out or fit in?

This is really the key distinction. When mitigating your weaknesses you get to a “well-rounded” skill-set. Jack of all trades, very employable. Master of none, vanishing in the crowd.

When focusing on your strength, you build a skill-set that is much more specialized, but you get to operate on a much higher level. You're qualified for very different jobs.