Over-Playing to Your Strengths: The Cause of Your Greatest Weaknesses

How many times have you heard that you should play to your strengths? This is very appealing because it encourages you to do what comes easiest for you. The difficulty comes when you focus so much on a strength that it gets over-played and becomes your greatest weakness. This is when your strength goes bad on you.

Grab a notepad and pen. Write down your top 5 weaknesses on the right side of the page. Then on the left side list your top 5 strengths. Now take the first strength you listed and think about what happens when you go too far. For example, if you are really thorough and detailed, that could go bad when you get bogged down and overwhelmed (think analysis paralysis). If you are extremely outgoing and personable, that could go bad when you avoid necessary paperwork by finding someone else to have a conversation. If you are extremely trustworthy and have high integrity, that could go bad when you become critical of others and judgmental. So, take a minute and draw lines from your strengths to those weaknesses that show up when going bad. You might have more than one line from each strength or more than one line to each weakness. This can be quite illuminating to discover.

With this knowledge you can really lean into your strengths all the way up to the tipping point but back off before they start working against you. Similar to super-heroes learning to use their super-powers for good rather than for evil, you can do the same to be as healthy as possible in all situations.

It can be really helpful to ask those who know you well what they think are your strengths and weaknesses. Many people hesitate here because they have the misconception that asking for feedback is a sign of weakness. It is just the opposite. When you ask for input you are communicating that you want to improve and constantly keep growing. You are expressing self-confidence that you can take an outside assessment of how you are doing. This can also be inspiring to those you ask and cause them to consider self-improvement as well. To take this another step you could ask for others to let you know if they ever notice your strengths going bad. This will give you constant feedback and increase your potential for personal and professional growth.

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