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Why I sell Lego on Saturday mornings – working to your strengths, not on your weaknesses

By January 8, 2020July 17th, 20202 Comments

Saturday night at the Henry residence in London. At a time of year where night and day interface through various shades of gloom and grey, people lose track of the day of the week (that perilous time between Christmas and New Year) and we all have a little bit of extra time to stalk everyone else and their cat on social media .I was about to send a witty response to an erstwhile colleague, who seemed genuinely worried about my financial situation. He had just seen me post about my excitement at flipping two matching Fitbits for a 100% profit online. At the same time a Linkedin message popped up with the good news of my boss having endorsed me for Project Management. I completed my witty (or so I thought) response by inquiring as to whether the ex-colleague would have any unwanted Christmas gifts I could take off his hands at 20% of the market price. And then dutifully thanked my boss for the endorsement – all the while examining a slight sinking feeling of trepidation that seemed to have accompanied the receiving of that act of professional social media kindness.

Sales – my first love

Here is the thing. I love sales, love to sell and have always done so. From the age of 6 when I sold pictures of kitchen utensils to old ladies and 7 when I imported Haribo Gummibears from Germany to Finland then repackaged them to sets of 4 sweets and sold them to the neighbourhood’s children at a 700% markup. When I am sad, I sell. When I am happy, I sell more. Selling is not in my DNA. It is my DNA. I love playing offense – I’d rather leave defense to someone more suited.

Project management – a necessary evil?

Project management on the other hand. I am good at it. How could I not, with more than a decade of management consulting under my belt, featuring a plethora of boot camps, certifications as well as long projects from ERP Rollouts to Post Merger Integrations. But I don’t love it. In fact, I hate it. There, I said it. Don’t get me wrong – I have utmost respect for the Art of Project Management. All leaders need it in their toolset in order to be effective. But it does not come naturally to me.

The formula for success: working to your strengths

Which brings me to my actual point: the amount of time we spend working on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Yes, there are undoubtedly, a large number of skills and capabilities outside our circle of natural affinity that we must (near) master in order to be effective in our careers. But if we spend our life working only on our weaknesses and not to our strengths – well then we shall be miserable and unfulfilled and we shall never be Wayne Gretzky, Cristiano Ronaldo or Michael Jordan but shall languish in the 5th league until we blame our parents, our ex or politicians for our woes and inadequacy.

If you have a boss who lets you off the leash to blaze a trail with your greatest strengths coupled with your greatest passions, rejoice – and send him a thank you note. If you are a boss, find out what your team members strengths are and help them fly according to those. Dig deep – people have a tendency to share what they think their boss wants to hear based on their insecurities around the things they think they should be better at. I.e. someone who is not very detail oriented will go out of their way to tell people at job interviews that they love details. Find out what people really love doing and unleash them to do their best work. The result is a happier, more effective team.

I just bought a ton of Legos at a garage sale. I told my wife they are for “the baby when s/he is older” and for my godchildren. That is only half the truth – what I am really looking forward to is flipping most of them online next Saturday!

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Congratulations on getting the endorsement. Enjoyed reading this piece because you allowed us to take a peek behind the curtain with the part where you talk about selling. It is easy to endorse working with your strengths. Speaking of children, playing to your strengths is a thing that can be encountered quite early already. One way they encounter it is through games. For example, games centered around teamwork, like role-playing games. Each player has a specific “class” they use and each class excels in some specific game mechanic/niché. It’s built right in. Everyone goes along with the nichés, everyone has fun. Same in real life. When we play to our strengths it feels much easier to gain desired outcomes. Positive outcomes are great to have. Looking forward to your Lego-flipping after-action report.

    • heryhenry says:

      Dear Oskar, thank you very much for your comment and I could not enjoy the role playing reference more as an old DM.

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