There are two contradictory schools of thought on developing skills. The first is to build on your strengths and forget about your weaknesses. The second is to strengthen your weaknesses until your report card is all As. Unfortunately, both schools of thought fail to nurture your inner genius.

The truth is, brilliant people often start with a lopsided skill set. They fall in love with a subject or activity for which they have a special knack, then keep adding to their skills while letting other subjects or activities slide. This creates a canceling effect: they get good at what they love, but their lack of ability ...

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