Monday, December 17, 2007

Strength Zone vs. Comfort Zone

One of the key themes of many self-development books is to focus on your strengths. Focus the majority of your time and effort further developing the areas you are good at (the strength zone) and less time in your areas of weaknesses. This seems to be conventional wisdom but I’ve got some issues with this line of thinking.

I think this perception of development is “linear” in orientation when maybe what is required is a more “tree-like” multi-faceted approach. The danger with solely focussing on your areas of strength is that it can result in you being stuck in your comfort zone focusing on areas where one feel’s secure and discourage venturing out and seeking new challenges outside your comfort zone. How are we so sure such areas of weakness cannot be transformed to areas of strength if we diligently apply ourselves to develop in those specific areas?

TD Jakes wrote that “if you are not moving forward then you are moving backwards”. I believe the focus should be on increasing the boundaries of one’s comfort zone as opposed to entrenching them. Even if we fail there is still a lesson to be learnt that would further increase one’s development. Better still, if we continually fail then we can truly say this branch is not for me, find a work-around against this particular area of weakness and start building a new one.

I suppose this raises other issues such as generalisation vs. specialisation. Breadth vs. depth. The answer to that seems more of a personal preference than anything else. But then again it depends on what dimensions we are using. If we view it in the context of the combination of our professional and personal lives it cant be such a bad thing now can it.

Anyhow, enough randomness for today.



DavidMTaylor said...

I believe your comfort zone and your strength zone are two different things. I think that everyone should always stretch themselves by doing things that they haven't done before and by learning constantly. However, you can do this by leveraging your strengths into new areas.

For example, if I am good at business processes and structure, I can take this strength and apply it to a different industry than I am familiar with or in a charitable organization setting or a community association. I believe I would add value in these areas if I worked in my strength zone but I would definately be outside my comfort zone.

David M. Taylor

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