Many times people attempt to improve themselves by picking one of their weakest areas and trying to get better at it. Introverts try to become extroverts, those mathematically inclined may try to improve their writing skills. While it is certainly worthwhile trying to acquire at least a minimum level of skill in such areas, it is possible to go too far. You are likely to reach your limits at some point. It would be more rewarding, both personally and professionally, to develop further those skills you are good at. Imagine if Cheever and Tate had spent their time focused on their meager mathematical abilities rather than their monumental literary skills.
Cheever and Tate had other limitations that are worth noting as well. Blake Bailey's biography of Cheever presents him as an alcoholic who exploited others to meet his sexual and emotional needs. Tate reflected the southern views of his time and extolled the values of a society built on slavery. These are more serious failings. Developing a deeper sense of compassion would have been better for both men. Compassion is arguably the one skill we all need to cultivate for our own well-being and for the well-being of others. How to do this? The Dalai Lama offers this simple approach: "First, we try to consider all sentient beings as equal. Then we consider that the lives of all beings are just as precious as our own, and through this we develop a sense of concern for others." This, of course, embodies a lot of sentiments found in different religions and in secular thought as well. It is a good step to get better at a skill we all need to have.