There is a constant discussion in my head about who I am and what I am about. It always comes down to what I am willing to accept about myself, what I want to work on, and what I need to do more of.
I learned an important thing in my education and experience in the business world. It is much more important to improve on your strengths than your weaknesses. I think that goes against our conventional wisdom. I think we so consistently like to root for the underdog, that we ignore the fact that he/she/they is/are working 10 times harder than someone else just to have a chance to achieve the same results. For example, the famous story about "Rudy" the kid who got into Norte Dame, walked on the football team, and made a tackle on the last play of the year. The story was excellent and really warmed our hearts, but in reality the kid worked 10 times harder than anyone else on that team and only got one play out of it. Hard work was this kid's strength, size and strength and football skills were not.
This is not to say that we shouldn't go against the odds or improve our weaknesses. I don't think any great thing in history would've happened if we people didn't go against the grain every now and then. What I mean by all of this, is that we have to be realistic and smart about the road we take.
I'm not a good dancer, you won't see me on "So You Think You Can Dance" anytime soon. I used to perform in theatre and choir and it was fun, but I was always realistic about it. I was in the upper echelon of performers in a very small sample space. I wasn't ever going to pursue performing as a career because I knew that the talent level I needed simply wasn't there. I surely enjoy it though, and I always have the option to do a community show or something like that. Same goes with football. I am athletic, but I don't have the skills to play in the NFL, so I play intramural flag football at my college and I have a blast. That's all that matters.
But that's not my point. I just think that we tend to focus too much on our shortcomings and how to make them better instead of on what we are good at and how to make those things better. I am an excellent thinker, I tend to understand people really well, I can multitask, I can learn quickly, I can relate to almost anyone. I find these things to be very useful in the business world. What's even better is that I actually enjoy all of this. I also realize that I'd make an excellent college advisor or something along those lines. Nothing looks better than someone who understands what their strengths are and utilizes them to their full potential.
Ever since I've adopted this thought process, my life has been happier and more fulfilling. I am very hard on myself, more so than even the most totalitarian superior. I find that when I accept my weaknesses and improve them where I can and instead focus most of my energy toward my strengths, I am more productive and successful. I will probably never stop being anxious about what people think, but I can be hyper-aware (something I've very good at) of what I'm thinking and realize that I'm being ridiculous. I probably will always wear my heart on my sleeve, but I can be excellent at thinking and exploring my emotions in a healthier way. And the list goes on...
Focus on strengths instead of weaknesses and you will find yourself performing to the potential you probably thought you always had. You will find yourself happier and finding more success. You'll look at the mirror and smile again because you are proud of something you are doing.
You may even find your niche. And that is the best place for any person to be in their life.
Business is an interesting thing. It is a mix of old tricks and new ideas. An ever-changing medium that one can never get comfortable with.
I'm thinking about this today because the world of journalism is changing so much. With that, the world of business, technology and everything else changes. I see many reactions across generations. Older generations are mostly stubborn, insistent on doing it the way they know how. They don't want to give up what they've grown up with. They write off the new ideas as unnecessary and harken back to 'better' times. This may be true in some aspects. Newspapers, for example, have a timeless quality to them. There is no news medium more historical and prominent throughout history. But that alone should not be a reason to stay stuck in our old ways. If a person has nothing to do with the world of journalism and just prefers to read a newspaper on his lap until the day he or the newspaper industry dies, then no problem.
The problem comes when you have people involved in the business or teaching it continuing to be stubborn. There is only so much history can teach us until we eventually need to rewrite it and make new history. A professor talking about the history of newspapers may be interesting (not to me), but how will it help those students get jobs in a world that will likely be devoid of newspapers in the next decade?
The same goes for business. Why preach the same old processes that don't work? The world of advertising has never been more confusing or exciting. Television commercials aren't as effective as they used to be due to DVR's and short attention spans. Staying power is extremely difficult these days. So instead of spending 3 quarters learning about the history of advertising, maybe make one of those classes into a brainstorm seminar on the future of advertising. After all, those who go to college now are supposed to be the innovators of the future right?
I'm not trying to blast the older generation by any means. In fact, I think the current generation's lack or respect or knowledge on the older generation's accomplishments is nothing short of a travesty. However, the older generation better get with some of the new ways or they will find that they will get flushed out, no matter how innovative and masterful they used to be. There is a time for pride and a time for survival. I don't know how you could survive in the world as it is now without knowing at least the basics of computers.
For that reason, I keep up with all the trends. Call me a sellout, call me a self-involved kid, call me a follower, but for all that I am also someone who won't be out of touch. That's one thing I hope never happens to me. At some point I will have my ways that I prefer (I already do), but everytime I see a new website, new technology, and new ways of doing things, I check them out. Why be stubborn and get left behind? Many will find this hard because they get sentimental attachment to certain ways things work, and I understand that. But I like change. I like seeing the new ways of the world. I see good business as a model that constantly improves on itself, constantly looks for ways to get better, constantly looks at competition and tries to take the good and the bad and improve.