Conventional wisdom has it that we play to our strengths.
I wonder how limiting that might be. When we play to our strengths, it is natural to choose competitors who are weaker than us, because as a society we have a bias for winning.
However, we don’t get better by playing people who don’t stretch us. Failure is a necessary part of growth.
Over the last couple of years I have become interested in the power of archetypes; specifically the work being pioneered by Olivier Mythodrama
Much of the business work done around Jungian Archetypes takes the form of analysis and categorisation – Belbin, Myers Briggs etc – and are valuable when looking at how we operate as individuals and as a team. However, I have increasingly found that those who have done them tend to label themselves, and play to those strengths.
Which would be fine, if things weren’t changing as quickly as they are.
We are all much more than we appear. In addition to our expressed strengths, we have ones waiting in the wings. Which is why I like the Olivier / Hillman work.
In my own case, I am changing the way I work as I get older. The archetypal strengths I have used to get me to here are not the most appropriate I feel to get me to where I want to go next. I am moving from having my order and action capabilities as my lead players to bringing out those around creativity, relationships and change.
I am finding it requires very definite action. It is very easy to fall back on my historic strengths, but that means regression. I have to be willing to let my less experienced archetypes loose. Recognise they may fluff their lines now and again, and laugh about it.
The upside is what’s emerging. Just because they were less dominant turns out to mean that they are not strengths. I am finding avenues and options that open up new possibilities. It is really quite energising.
I am also fortunate that I work independently, which means that I can explore these changes freely. It would I think be more challenging if i were part of a team where the changes I am making could disrupt the status quo.
Playing to our strengths is great for winning today though the danger is it keeps us in the same game with the same players, when the game is changing out of all recognition.
I suspect most of us, like me, have been heavily reliant on our competences in the order and action domains. However, as things become ever more fluid and unpredictable, and as technology becomes much more effective in those domains we may all need to bring those latent qualities in us that focus on relationships, creativity and change to the fore.
That which makes us Human, and helps us deal with the unexpected.
Recognise and use your strengths, but be equally aware of where they may trap you. The game is changing.