I had my annual performance review with my company's CEO last Friday. On Tuesday, I received a copy of the "review" to prepare for the meeting.
Our CEO's style is direct and open, and that style carried through to my review. My review was about a page and a half, summarizing major accomplishments from the last year, a few paragraphs summarizing some of the "360 feedback" he'd asked for from folks I worked with (mostly positive), and a couple of lines about an area where I can improve. And, there were no surprises in the review.
When we got started in the discussion, his conversation mapped pretty closely to those proportions: lots of time spent on accomplishments and positive feedback, but only a few minutes on things that didn't go so well.
I mentioned that I'd like to spend some more time talking about the areas where I'd had challenges or failures during the past year, so I could learn from them.
His reply really struck me. Here's what he said:
"Sure, we can discuss what you've learned from those challenges, but I don't want to spend too much time on that.
"One of the things I've learned in my career is that we all have areas of strength and areas of weakness. A 10% improvement in a strength can make a huge difference; a 10% improvement in an area of weakness probably won't have nearly as much of an impact.
"Let's focus on how to make the most of your strengths and make them even stronger."
I think this is good food for thought for anyone. When I think about the times I felt really proud of my results, it was when I was using my strengths.
You only have so much time and energy. Where will you invest your 10%? Always strive to make choices that put you in situations where your strengths can make a real difference.