It's About What You Do Well, Not About What You Don't
Zuckerberg asked them (and moderator Lin-Manuel Miranda): If you could go back and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Each of them gives an excellent answer, but I was especially intrigued by Bill Gates' response:
"I was so naive about different skillsets. I thought, if somebody had a high IQ, they could be good at everything.
And the idea that you needed to blend these different types of skills together, that always...surprised me.
But that sort of notion that there was this simple idea of smartness, and that it could go and solve everything, I wish I'd known better than to think that."
I think this is something people grapple with in all walks of life, but, none more so than as an entrepreneur.
I know I've wrestled with this notion over the years myself, this idea that if I just put enough time and effort into it, I can figure everything out by myself. (The point is particularly acute when you have no money and you're bootstrapping the business, but even if you're not, it still holds true.)
The reality is, that we all have skills, areas of expertise, capabilities where we do certain things very well, and others, less so.
But we're often pushed to believe that we should be able to figure everything out ourselves. "We're smart guys! How hard can it be? This isn't rocket science!"
It's a notion that is often pushed by peers, society, conventional thinking, etc., one that based on the idea that, while it's fine that we have strengths, we should really be focused on improving our weaknesses. That our success is predicated on us becoming some sort of complete, well rounded, fully formed individual who can work through and manage all elements of an enterprise at an optimal level.
Actually, let me take clarify. That's NOT bullshit, if you want to build an average enterprise. One that does OK, plods along, and muddles its way through.
It IS bullshit if you want to build something great.
Because great organizations are built on the backs of great teams.
Great teams, by definition, are made up of different skillsets and capabilities. Everyone on the team isn't able to execute every role on that team.
Nor should they. You don't expect a goalkeeper in a football team to be able to manage the midfield and score goals as well, do you? So then why do we expect different (in terms of roles) in a business setting?
No. We need to focus on what we do well, and partner with others, to do those we are not as good at. Yes, with enough time and effort, maybe you'd be decent at that skill, but why would you waste that time and effort doing that, and what could you have achieved had you put that time and effort into what you're super good at?
Let's get focused. Emphasize your spikes. Focus on your strengths and go all out to maximize that strength for the betterment of your organization. That's where your focus should be.
If that's proving difficult, I'd suggest the issue is not with others (they're not good enough, etc.) but rather with us.
Maybe it's down to trust. Maybe it has to do with letting go and accepting who we are. Maybe we assign too much of a personal value judgement to the decision.
Because, when we look closer, we'll realize that we're not being "pushed to believe" anything, rather we're pushing ourselves to believe this.
Look, as entrepreneurs, we have enough on our plates. Let's not make it harder than it has to be - physically or mentally.
Trust. Partner. You can't do it all yourself.
You don't need to.