Each one of us has our own idea about how human potential works.
Some of us think that each person is capable of almost anything. Success is just a matter of trying hard enough. Each of us can excel at whatever we choose. It is all a matter of setting your mind to it.
Others see each human as unique and therefore not infinitely capable. Each person is a distinct blend of talents and interests and, in order to excel, one must not only work hard, but match those talents and interests with the right tasks and/or positions.
Most current research into human behaviour and the human mind supports the second view. Many studies conclude that the innate wiring in our brains has a real impact on our abilities to excel at some activities but not at others.
Personally, I experience this when I play hockey. I can skate much faster than many of the players on the ice, but I am aware that my sense of space and time is not as good as most. I struggle to make the right pass or take the shot at the right time where it seems to be easy for others. Players much slower than me on the ice are often several times more effective. No matter what I do I can’t seem to “get my head in the game”.
On the other hand, not many of the beer-bellied hockey players who can get the better of me on the ice would be able go head-to-head with me in a half-marathon or in leading a business for that matter. I have my strengths and I have my weaknesses and I have adapted my life to use my strengths. By using and nurturing my strengths, I have achieved success and gained self-esteem. As a kid, where hockey performance was one of the main areas of comparison with my friends, I often struggled with confidence.
I believe that each person has innate strengths and weaknesses, and that these should be taken into account when you lead people. How do we do this?
The Gallup engagement studies show conclusively that employees who answer a strong “yes” to the question “do I get to do what I am good at every day?” will outperform those who don’t. The keys to having our staff answer “yes” are understanding that each person is unique and adapting the work and our approach to each person accordingly.