“Sometimes, I react too quickly.”
“I can be inconsistent.”
“People tell me I am overly sensitive.”
Like everyone else on the planet, you have less-than-perfect moments. Welcome to the club.
Sometimes, you may annoy others; other times, you may annoy even yourself. You envision a version of yourself who responds appropriately in every occasion, who says and does the right thing in all situations. If you could just rid yourself of the weaknesses on your list, you could become that “Perfect You.”
Having a tendency to be rash, inconsistent, overly sensitive or any other weakness that may come to your mind isn’t as bad as you may think. That “Perfect You” who you imagine is found by recognizing your weaknesses as the keys to success, not by ridding yourself of them.
In truth, your weaknesses aren’t actually weaknesses at all. They are your strengths overdone.
Your strengths serve as the basis for how you excel in your professional and personal relationships. They are your personal superpowers.
Like superheroes, you have to consider when and how much of your strengths to use. In this case, there can be too much of a good thing. While you believe you are contributing them towards a greater good, an overdone strength can ruin a working (or personal) relationship, a departmental project or even an entire company.
Using too much of a strength, can distract from your original intention, no matter how good it may have been.
Often instinctual, strengths feel very natural to a person and well-established in their comfort zone. How could a gift so familiar and well-intended cause harm?
Remember, Superman lost his powers when he was close to kryptonite. Being from Krypton is what made him special on Earth, but when exposed to a rock from his home planet, he became weak. Something that should have been familiar to him and in his comfort zone made Superman lose his strength.
In the same way, factors that can lessen your power are not totally foreign to you. Your personal kryptonite easily could be something so familiar and ingrained in who you are that it might be difficult to recognize. Overdoing a strength that you’re comfortable with may weaken your professional potential. The saboteur to your success may come from within.
Finding Your Weakness
Identifying your own overdone strength can be as easy as asking yourself what strength you’re most proud of. Typically, that is the one you risk overdoing the most.
Here are a few strengths and the weaknesses that may show when they are overdone.
Looking at a weakness from a different angle reveals the strength behind it. This paradigm shift helps your personal and professional relationships, enhances your leadership style and provides the keys to success.
Making Your Weaknesses Work For You
Seeing the strength on the other side of the weakness provides room for some self-forgiveness. It also helps you better live and work with what you consider faults in others.
You find yourself more tolerant of another’s annoyance when you recognize how that weakness goes hand-in-hand with the strength the person contributes to the team.
- Colleagues you may consider ruthless could really just be ambitious.
- A team member who may ask a ton of detailed questions may be analytical and detail-oriented.
- An executive you think of as rigid might be very methodical.
- Someone once thought of as overly sensitive brings great empathy and a high level of emotional intelligence.
- An overthinker is the team mate who points out missing details of a project plan.
Help those you lead find their own keys to success. If you see a “weakness” in someone you lead, provide opportunities for the team member to fully display the strength that lies behind it.
As a leader, your job is to find the right balance of strengths, both your own and those on your team. It may take some time and may vary from project to project. Here’s how you can approach the balancing act.
1. Praise the Strength.
Whether it belongs to you or someone on your team, give proper recognition for the strength. It could be the reason you or your team mate were hired. The strength might be a major contributing factor to a project’s or the company’s success. Whatever it may be, be careful not to focus on the resulting weakness so much that you choke off the strength in which it resides.
2. Own the Weakness.
For a more productive personal and professional life, own that you can go overboard with your strengths. The strength may come very naturally to you, and you may believe the amount you use is appropriate. However, the interpretation and feedback from coworkers provides valuable insight. Listen to others and honestly evaluate what you receive. Are your words and actions in proportion to a healthy use of your strength? As a leader, it is also your duty to invest in the development of those you lead by providing opportunities for this type of growth as well.
3. Find the Triggers.
When do you or those you lead find it most tempting to overdo the strength? Do stressful situations or arguments trigger the strength to go on overdrive? Take time to think of occasions when your weaknesses revealed themselves. What were the influential factors? Also note at what time and in what circumstances you see it happen with your team members. Finding what triggers strengths to be overdone will help you prepare to keep them in check for yourself and those you lead.
4. Be the Change.
Once you have identified the overdone strengths and their triggers, now you can do the work of making adjustments. No matter the size of your team or your company, a perfectly balanced leader is a difficult thing to become. Work on your own personal responses, directing and redirecting strengths in productive directions. Also, build a diverse team within an honest culture that helps you balance and offset overdone strengths across your organization. It may feel like spinning plates at the beginning but once you truly know your team, the strategic positioning of strengths will become clearer.
Keys to Success
History tells us stories of how Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity by flying a kite with a key on the string during a storm.
He kept his strength as an experimenter in balance and did not overdo it by becoming aimless. Mr. Franklin was able to be a risk taker without becoming a reckless gambler. His strength of being analytical never crossed the line to be lost in the details, unproductive and nit-picky. Benjamin Franklin provides us a great example of not overdoing your strengths.
Considering the raw and stressful moments 2020 has provided, it is important now more than ever to evaluate yourself and your team to identify overdone strengths. They can damage a team and relationships if not in check. If redirected and encouraged, they can also be the keys to success for the individual and the team.
Not everything has to be done full force. It’s all about balance.
After all, you don’t need a hurricane to fly a kite… just a good gust of wind.