Face the Dark Side of Your Strengths

Before we dig into today’s topic, let’s take a moment to level-set. So what are strengths in the first place?

Provide definition

I am a huge proponent of being aware of, and playing to, our core strengths. In my mind, this is how we play our game true to who we are as individuals.

Our core strengths give us our path to defining and mastering our craft.

It is our combination of strengths that makes us uniquely positioned to make an incredible impact in our world.

And I don’t use the work unique lightly.

Note stats about having the same strengths and same order per Gallup

We each have an incredible opportunity to leverage our strengths in a way that no one else can – if we choose to understand them, work on them, and put them into action.

Logically then it would follow that we should go pedal to the medal on our strengths… right?

Perhaps not.

Ever hear the term, “too much of a good thing“?

adult-anger-angry-356147

Last week I had the opportunity and privilege to give a presentation for my company on the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment. Prior to the presentation, everyone at the company took the StrengthsFinder assessment and learned their top 5 strengths.

During the presentation, we walked through our collective team strengths and discussed the many benefits of leveraging those strengths to create an increased sense of fulfillment and job satisfaction while executing at a higher level.

I then highlighted the potential limiting power of our strengths if we aren’t mindful of how we are using them.

I outlined what my top 5 strengths were and how they can get me into trouble if I’m not careful, and I would like to share them with you as well:

Outline 5 strengths, description of basement and my personal narrative in how it shows up for me

It’s a scary thought. This combination of strengths is my unique approach to making an impact on the world AND I can absolutely think of examples where I end up in the basement of each one…

Let’s take the right actions and have the proper mindset to make sure we can play at our highest level without negatively hurting our teams and the ones around us in the process.

Don’t Let Your Strength Become a Weakness

So how can we become aware of when our strengths are hurting us instead of helping us, and preventing us from playing bigger and becoming our very best?

Define and identify your strengths

Whether it’s through an assessment or pure awareness, we first have to understand what our strengths actually are.

If you haven’t taken a strengths-based assessment in the past, then grab a piece of paper and write down the top things that you are naturally talented at.

What are the things that you can do at near perfection which also generate energy?

To help this exercise, here are some quick bullets on how you can known if something is a strength:

give bullets in how you know it’s a strength

Determine what situations benefit from your strengths

Once you have a clear picture of your strengths, identify where they are most beneficial in your life – and on the flip side, where you shouldn’t leverage them.

For instance, maybe the strength of competition doesn’t have a place while spending time with the family.

I know for a fact that this can become a weakness for me. More than once my daughter has crushed my in an innocent game of CandyLand, and you better believe I can feel my blood boil.

Know when to let your strengths shine, and know when it’s time for them to take a back seat.

Become aware when enough is enough

Even when we use the right strengths in the right context, we can still take it too far and to the detriment of our team and those around us.

For example, some people have the strength of being impressively analytical. They can crunch numbers and data like no other to help inform good decisions.

However, when analysis turns into paralysis and no action is taken, that individual strength becomes an organizational weakness.

Get clear on when too much of your strengths starts slowing down or sucking the energy out of the team’s momentum towards a goal or objective. So the next time you are full steam ahead playing to your strengths, pick your head up, look around the room, and note the atmosphere. The look on people’s faces and their body language will serve as a great barometer.

Seek out those with supporting strengths

One way to help ensure your strengths aren’t negatively impacting the team or organization is to surround yourself with those who have supporting or compensating strengths.

Leveraging team members with a diverse set of strengths can help balance us out and prevent us from thinking we can use our strengths to get through any obstacle, especially if they aren’t meant for the job at hand.

Just because a hammer is great at pounding nails doesn’t mean it’s the right tool to fix a sink or appliance.

To play with our analysis paralysis example above, look for those who have a more achiever-focused strength (they are the ones who love to get stuff done).

They can help balance and bring clarity to when there is enough data to take action. And the beauty is that the same check and balance works both ways.

Build up those around you

No matter what your strengths are, being of service to your teams, families and communities will always create the right energy, culture and support system to get all of us to where we want to go.

Just as we should always strive to improve, refine and master our own strengths, we must look for the opportunities to support and build up those around us.

Putting the focus on others instead of ourselves can help us avoid overusing our own strengths while increasing the collective strength and power of the organization, family or community.

Being of service is always a powerful tool for a leader to leverage. Use it and watch everyone become better and stronger in the process.

Know Your Dark Side and Play Bigger

We all have the potential to hurt our team more than help it if we aren’t focused on doing the right things the right way at the right times.

I hope today’s message will serve to open our eyes a little bit wider to see how our actions can positively or negatively impact the world around us – even if we have the best of intentions.

So with clearer eyes, let’s go play our game true to who we are while being good teammates and building up our team around us in the process.

Now get back out there and #unleash your Inner Athlete.

Discussion Question: How is your strength showing up as a barrier for you? How can you be more aware and ensure it isn’t holding you back?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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