Peter Drucker tells us that all great people have great weaknesses. Where there are peaks, there are valleys.
The best among us, he says, know that they can’t be great (or even good) at everything and they don’t try to become “well-rounded” people. He says that’s a sure path to mediocrity. Instead, we want to lean into our strengths so hard that we make our weaknesses irrelevant.
To bring the point home, he shares a story about Abraham Lincoln and his leadership of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was the first General who was willing to actually fight for the Union. This was exactly what Lincoln had been looking for. It was a great strength. Now, Grant also liked to drink. A lot. Oops. Weakness.
Lincoln’s response to this weakness? He said, “If I knew his brand I’d send a barrel to all my generals.” (Hah!)
Peaks. Valleys. Great people have them. So do all of us.
When I read that story about Lincoln and his general who liked his whisky, I thought of a modern duo — Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. In the jaw-droppingly inspiring documentary The Defiant Ones, we get a behind-the-scenes look at their creative process. At one point, the two are getting ready to sell Beats to Apple for a couple billion dollars. It’s still a top-secret, confidential deal. And, as we know, no deal is done till it’s done.
Then Dr. Dre busts open a barrel of Grant’s favorite whiskey celebrating the deal with his friends and creates a little video that goes viral. Oops.
Iovine sees the video. He maintains his equanimity and says, “That’s the horse I rode in on.”
Peaks. Valleys. We all have them.
So… Today’s +1: What are your strengths? What are the things that you’re REALLY good at? What can you do relatively easily that most people can’t do at all?
So hard that you make your weaknesses irrelevant. Quit trying to be good at everything and choose to be great at being YOU.
Important note: The only weaknesses that we DO need to take care of if they exist? Character and integrity issues. If you’re wobbly with your integrity, work on it.
Otherwise, double down on your strengths. Every time.