It’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses. Technically, professionally and personally.
On a technical level, you might consider areas such as musical styles, particular instruments, approaches to production and aesthetic. For example, my strengths include composition, keyboard, guitar, drum programming, mixing and mastering, clean to aggressive aesthetics, etc. My strengths don’t include recording large (>10) ensembles, jazz guitar (though I enjoy listening to it), singing (I prefer to get others to do that), etc.
On a professional level, you might consider areas such as prospecting, client/artist relationships, accounting, project management and strategic planning. For example, my strengths include understanding and empathising with artists, discipline with accounting and administration and balancing my workload while getting projects done. My strengths don’t include marketing myself (I rely mainly on word of mouth), interior decorating (my studio is more functional than beautiful) and creating cross-industry strategic partnerships. These are things I’m working on.
On a personal level, you might consider areas such as relationships with friends, family and partners, diet and exercise, work/life balance, engagement with non-musical activities and maintenance of your personal living space. For example, my strengths include caring for my personal health, maintaining good relations with my family and keeping my apartment in good condition. My strengths don’t include interior decorating or anything social outside music-related activities (such as gigs). I’m not sure how important that is to me. Probably less than it should be.
Knowing my strengths and weaknesses helps me to make deliberate decisions about how I capitalise on my strengths and how I focus my efforts on improving my weaknesses.
However, knowing your strengths and weaknesses isn’t about avoiding difficult work. Partly, it’s about knowing where you can do your best work. How can you use your strengths to give yourself an unfair advantage? How can you put your best foot forward? If you’re going to push yourself beyond your current capabilities, which direction will put you ahead of the pack?
It’s also about being strategic about managing your weaknesses. Which weaknesses will you ignore because they don’t matter to you? Which weaknesses will you route around or cover up? Which weaknesses will you focus on improving because they’re necessary to your music? Which battles will you fight knowing you have it five times harder than the next person?
You have many paths ahead of you: Which uphill battles will you choose? Where will you give yourself an unfair advantage?