Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

Lessons from Gaming: Leading with Your Natural Strengths

In this post, I’ll discuss the reason for these resultant correlations between wealth and range of skills invested in (from What the Most Successful People Have in Common by Nicole Carter):

…middle class survey respondents reported having six skills. The high-net-worth group, on the other hand, reported having only two skills. That’s because the most successful people are aware of their limitations and strengths, and focus on what they’re best at, Schiff said. In fact, 58 percent of middle class millionaires said they work to improve on skills they lack, but only 7 percent of high-net -worth individuals do the same. The wealthiest respondents? Not one of them said they worked on improving areas of weakness.

How is this possible? If you’ve ever played a role-playing game (RPG), whether a console or classic paper-and-pencil version, then it’s likely that you intuitively understand the logic of this. For everyone else, excuse me while I nerd out for a moment. To build a powerful character or team, RPG gamers learn how to be efficient with character development. This means turning the character whose points are originally stacked as a mage into a powerful mage and turning the character whose points are originally as a warrior into a powerful warrior instead of wasting time making them into well-rounded characters and so on. The reason for this is that a generalist is outperformed in all areas of endeavor by a specialist in each endeavor. So, unfortunately this strategy is integral in a world that favors specialization.

Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS, a singl...

Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS, a single-player role-playing video game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the bright side, if you really know yourself and what you want to do with your life, this means you can go far by honoring who you already are and focusing on the skills and abilities you value most (within parameters imposed by real world demands). Sure, you can use “nurture” to change your “nature.” Experts have been pointing out that neural wiring in the brain and even genetic alterations are possible through environmental and behavioral change. However, the time and energy spent developing an area of weakness translates into the opportunity cost of not developing your strengths.

If you think about how easy it is to engage in a habit you find rewarding and how hard it is to eliminate that same habit, you realize how developing your areas of weakness turns out to be more of an uphill battle than developing your strengths as we are talking about your natural preferences here. This is not to say that you should always avoid addressing your weaknesses. However, make sure that if you decide to, that you are doing so for the right reasons. No matter what others want you to do (you can’t please everyone), what do you want? Are your areas of weaknesses causing problems in your life?

Who hasn’t experienced having people coming out of the woodwork to tell you what’s a “good” way to be and what’s a “bad” way to be? By and large, people do this because they perceive the way they’re going about life as ideal. However, there’s room for all kinds of people in this world. That’s why I don’t take unsolicited advice too seriously. For example, as an introvert, if I’m social enough for myself and live a functional life then I’ll continue to indulge in activities that introversion lends itself to, like research and writing. How about you? How do you decide to allocate your time and resources between developing your strengths and addressing your weaknesses?

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