I recently read through the book 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall, and I really enjoyed the challenge that the book presented in terms of thinking through your daily activities with a more critical eye. Perhaps my favorite section of the book was a Marketing DNA test that Marshall offers online. If you’re considering taking the test, be sure to buy the book. It’s more affordable that way ($15 compared to $37 as of this writing), and the book really is worth your time.
I’ll blog more about Marshall’s book in a future post, but taking the Marketing DNA test really got me thinking. The test was very helpful in understanding more of my strengths and my weaknesses — much like the StrengthsFinder 2.0. (Can’t believe I haven’t written about StrengthsFinder yet. Another future post.)
Direction or Limitation?
The interesting thing about learning your strengths and weaknesses more clearly is that you can come away with either a sense of focus or a sense of limitation.
Don’t get me wrong. I think that both tests were quite accurate in their assessments, but they left me with an odd feeling that I shouldn’t be doing some of the tasks that are currently on my plate. Honestly, I enjoyed some of those tasks. I wasn’t really ready to give them up yet.
Malcolm Gladwell writes about the folks that overcame adversity in the book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, in one chapter citing several entrepreneurs who overcame dyslexia — including Richard Branson. Gladwell specifically writes that the traits that might make someone seem weak in a particular pursuit are actually the challenges that help that person rise above the rest of the pack. After all, if an entrepreneur is focused enough to overcome dyslexia, what’s a few challenges in the market?
But I can hardly think about a test that reveals strengths and weaknesses in that same degree of severity. These tests are meant to show you where you’re more likely to succeed and where you’re not.
We can’t be talented at everything. Regardless of the challenges before us.
Hence the 80/20 rule (or the Pareto Principle). 20% of your effort yields 80% of your results. Continuing to try to do more will not help you gain substantially more.
I can keep on doing a passable job at the tasks that I’m not as strong in, and the work will get done. However, if I work with someone else, then that person will excel where I’m only okay.
It’s a bit disorienting to try to figure out which things to set aside, but it’s worth it. For someone who tries to take on too much, it’s a wonderful lesson in trusting others and in working together.