Join Jeff Weiner for an in-depth discussion in this video Optimizing for passion and skill, part of On Leadership by Jeff Weiner.
- You're going to make decisions differently when you know what it is that you ultimately want to accomplish. I would suggest making sure that as you continue to think more and more about this that you're doing two things. You're optimizing for both your passion and your skill. And not one at the exclusion of the other, which is what a lot of people have a tendency to do. Let's start with passion. Lot of people want to do what they love. And that sounds great, and it's really exciting. I love watching the Warriors play basketball. It's literally, it's one of my favorite things to do with my family. My family, my wife and I, we watch almost every televised game at home. I am not good enough to be a professional basketball player. I know this, and for those of you saying no don't be so hard on yourself. You can do it. Come on, let's be honest. Let's be honest. It's important to be honest, right? I'm not going to be a starting point guard for the Warriors. I'm not going to displace Steph Curry any time soon. I can channel that passion and combine it with my skill. I'm okay at management and business. And so maybe if I'm really passionate about the Warriors, I could work in their front office. I could aspire to be the general manager one day or the president of the organization. I can start at the lower ranks and work my way up. So that's an example of where just passion alone may not do the trick. And there's a lot of people who pursue a career solely based on passion who wake up five, seven, ten years down the road, and it hasn't worked out for them. And they're deeply, deeply unhappy. Conversely, you can also optimize solely for skill. And you will be equally unhappy if you're not passionate about what you're doing. Andre Agassi, famous tennis player, ranked number one in the world both when he was younger and then much later on in his career. What he revealed in his book, and it was very aptly titled "Open", the U.S. Open, French Open, Australian Open, all these tournaments open and him being completely open, like crazy transparent about his trials and tribulations, his successes and his failures. And it turned out that he was miserable for most of his career playing tennis. So much so that he was abusing drugs as a professional tennis player, which people didn't realize. He was larger than life and super charismatic and wildly intelligent. He had a huge following. I don't think many of his fans knew how unhappy he was. He was unhappy because the passion came out of the sport for him at a very young age. His father was living through his son. His father was an amateur boxer, aspired to be a professional boxer, an excellent athlete and saw Andre had incredible athletic ability and pushed him to be a professional tennis player at a very, very, very young age. And it took the joy out of tennis for Andre. And he didn't really understand that until decades later. And his career was already kind of on the back end, and it was in a downward trajectory. And then he started to recognize that he did love tennis and why he was so unhappy. And he this extraordinary career resurgence very late in his career, and he ended up winning another major and completing the career Grand Slam at a time no one thought it would be possible. There's an example of someone who was one, if not the best in the world at certain periods of time and who was miserable as a result. It's an example of what happens when you solely optimize for skill and not passion. And a lot of us can do that. It's easy because you're going to be rewarded for the things that you're good at. And so if you don't have this clear true north, and you're not optimizing for both passion and skill, you're going to go from one reward to the next. One promotion, one raise to the next. So it's really important to find and identify the nexus between your passion and your skill. And it's okay if you don't know what that is. Try different things in those moments. Through trial and error you're going to better understand what you're good at and what you're passionate, or you're most passionate about. And that's where you want to focus your efforts. So that's first. Second, be very honest with yourself in terms of your strengths and your weaknesses. And like any good effective company, double down on your strengths. Those are advantages, if not competitive advantages. Don't just focus on closing the gaps. A lot of us, especially overachievers, have a tendency to focus on the negative. They want to strive for perfection. And so they focus on the things they can't do, and they want to get incrementally better when they have these gifts. And you double down, triple down on those gifts, that's how you truly differentiate yourself. But it's also okay to invest in your weaknesses too. Get them up to a certain baseline of capability. But be honest with yourself in terms of what you're good at and what you're not good at. And that kind of self assessment is critical to effective leadership, and we'll get into that in just a moment when we talk about team awareness. And then lastly, once you understand what it is that you're good at and what it is you're not as good at, this is where effective leaders shine. Because they build a team that complements their own strengths and weaknesses. And you can't do that if you're not self aware and you're not honest with yourself about what you can and can't do. But once you do understand it, it is so liberating to not try to hide it. You know, some of us try to mask our weaknesses because we feel like if people understand what we're not good at, then we're not going to get the promotion. It's going to hold us back somehow or that other people are going to exploit the vulnerability. But at the end of the day when you're in touch with who you are and your strengths and you weaknesses, other people can relate to that. It makes you more human, that vulnerability. And it's upon that foundation that you can start to surround yourself with people who are going to complement your skills. And that's how you start to build truly world-class teams.
Learn about the importance of maintaining awareness of yourself, your team, your industry, and the world at large. Explore the topic of synthesis, which you achieve through developing your vision and values and by focusing on the most important priorities. Plus, learn about the role of inspiration in leadership, both in terms of being true to your own values and motivating others.