On Uncommon Strength

 Misha Bogomaz, Psy.D., C.G.P., ABPP

I’ve been taught that to grow I must identify my growth areas (my weaknesses) and work on improving them. “What are my weaknesses as a clinician? As an administrator?” – I asked myself. I would identify an area and intensely concentrate on it. “I am not that good at details” – I’ve told myself when I got the Training Director job. I improved, after consciously working it on. I even read books about using checklists! All my efforts certainly helped me evolve into a better clinician and an administrator.

Apparently, I was not doing it right. To be great at something is not just identifying and improving weak areas. It is mainly about identifying something that you are uncommonly good at and taking it to the Nth degree. Details will never be my strength… much less an uncommon strength. But, I’ve discovered, my uncommon strength is to see the big picture. I see the forest but struggle to see trees kind of a person. I have learned embrace it.

The session I learned is that by concentrating on improving weaknesses one becomes mediocre. Maybe even a well-rounded good professional with no big peaks and no low valleys. On the other hand, when concentrating on developing something one is uncommonly good at, there will be at least one huge peak. And I am not talking about identifying several strengths you might possess. There are a lot of things we are all good at. I am talking about identifying one uncommon strength. Because it’s uncommon, there is typically just one of them.

What was my lesson? Identify my uncommon strength and concentrate on elevating it even further. Don’t worry about peaks and valleys. Work on weaknesses that constrain my uncommon strength. That is the path to become a great professional.

P.S.: one caveat is that ethical weaknesses cannot be ignored.