Your greatest strength is your weakness
I’m a talker who married a quiet person. I bet that’s no surprise. Over the years I’ve learned that my strength is my weakness. I talk too much. I’ve learned that I don’t have to fill silence with the melodic sound of my own voice. I’ve also learned that a few moments of silence is an invitation for my wife to begin talking and when she starts talking, I listen. She’s quiet not dumb. When she starts talking she says so much smart stuff my head spins.
Your greatest strength is your weakness. You’ll fail if you don’t expand.
- If you are a great talker, you talk too much. Listen more.
- If you are a great listener, you listen too much. Talk more.
- If you are great at execution, you rely too much on getting things done. Dream more.
- If you are a dreamer, you launch too quickly. Execute more.
- If you are great at encouraging, people walk all over you. Confront more.
- If you are great at discernment, you walk over others. Comfort more.
- If you are great at organization, you’re inflexible. Adapt more.
- If you are creative, you’re scatterbrained. Ask more questions.
- If you are a detail person, you’re rigid. Try things more.
Your greatest strength makes you interesting and useful. Use it, follow it, and leverage it for the good of others. However, it doesn’t take long for a one string banjo to irritate any listener. You’ll reach higher by adding a few strings to your instrument.
What weaknesses correspond to your strengths? Have you seen someone’s strength become their downfall?
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Reminds of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator! Same pricipal.
Thanks for bringing Myers-Briggs to the table. Some readers may enjoy exploring that side of things.
Great post Dan. I saw myself in several of your examples.
Thanks for joining the conversation. I’m with you. I’m definitely in there.
I was reading James Patterson toys when the saying your greatest weakness is greatest weakness. I was courious so I found you and I found out more than a meaning it told me to slow down stop look and listen. I never did that before so thank you for your site keep up the good work. Im more open mineded now .
I am also a talkers and doer. Over the last 9 months as we have been in the journey to be in busines for ourselves, God has had me doing a lot of listening and waiting. Very frustrating at times but its developing improvement in the area of self control.
Thank you for your ministry brother.
Great to hear from you Angel. Knowing when to listen and knowing when to leap…now that is a challenge!
Good questions raised in this post, Dan. We had a management consultant doing “management training” with us a while back. She had us split up into teams and solve a complex problem involving several different factors, some calculations, and analysis. I suggested the answer about halfway through but did not insist on everyone hearing. After a lot more time spent, we presented our answer. In the feedback session, the leader pointed out that I had stated the answer halfway through but because I did it in a tentative way and did not somehow engage the group, we wasted a lot of additional time getting to the answer. So I am trying to deal with that weakness of not speaking up when I know I am right by “sounding” more convincing the first time out and realizing sometimes a “correct” answer that gets brushed off initially needs to be repeated in order to gain acceptance (and sometimes the repeat needs to happen from someone else with different credibility so it’s important not to be a credit hog).
I used to role over and give in too quickly. I think state your point. Then listen to objections and then taking that next step of continuing to press your point. However, theres a line between being determined and being hard headed. I think listening really helps us not come off as hard headed.
Great ideas, and I see myself and work colleagues in your descriptions Dan. Should it be Dreamers launch too SLOW, execute more. I’m a “talking scatterbrain”, so am taking your advice and turning my attention on the detail for a change!
You are the second person to point out that dreamers launch too slow. I received an email as well. GREAT point. I was thinking of myself with that one and should have said visionaries launch too quickly. — complete more. That whole sentence about dreamers could use some serious work. I think you and my other reader are right. Dreamers sit around dreaming and don’t launch.
I’m leaving the poorly written sentence on the blog as an exercise in humility.
Amen to the one string banjo…I have to work on that all the time. Several of these at one time or another have caused my demise. One that I think might be added to the list is passion. Passion can raise us to the pinnacle or drive us to the depths. Life isn’t worth much without it and too much will ruin life. My mother used to tell me, “Moderation in all things.” Words that I could not hear in my youth now ring in my ears.
Great post, thanks!
Thanks for jumping in and reminding us that too much of a good thing is bad!
I’m guilty of too much passion…sometimes I scare myself.
WOW! I needed that today! Follows up with a great clinic I just attended…gives me more to think about and ways to stretch myself…The one stringed banjo is a GREAT analogy. Thanks!
Thanks for making your first comment on Leadership Freak and thank you for the kind compliment.
Blessed are those who are no good at anything!!! As Scott Ginsberg says I’m so stupid I’m a genius!
Seriously – a well expressed truism for all of us – thanks Dan for your concise and insightful blog. Richard
Thanks for leaving a clever comment and a good word.
Thanks Dan, for a great post.
I agree with you Tim – nothing works without passion. I am passionate about my work, to a fault almost 🙂 Can be found ringing team members in the middle of the night if an idea strikes me. Am a creative talker, dreamer, organiser, mentor and encourager. Tough combination, huh? 🙂
Have made a conscious effort to listen more, disallow people from walking all over me and find a balance between dreaming and execution 🙂
I think I still talk too much though 😀
Chaula, thanks for leaving your first comment with Leadership Freak. I look forward to hearing more from you since you are a talker :-). Cheers, Dan
I share with those who will listen my variant “Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. Your greatest weakness is your greatest strength”. I believe this a concept so powerful it requires no active participation, no recognition – it simply is… I see references dating to the beginnings of recorded history.
Some see it, some don’t – strength and weakness, life and death, good and bad – one does not exist with the other. They are the same thing. I take things a step further “all things exist within all things”. This sounds crazy – I keep it to myself.
I came to my beliefs based on an experience as a child. It took twenty years to understand what I observed so long ago – and most likely, every day since.
I was about 12 years old fishing from a pier in Cape May. Five or six other folks were fishing as well, when a man and woman walked to the end of the pier. The man disrobed down to his Speedos, handed his clothes to the woman, then dove off the pier and began swimming out to Sea. I stopped fishing and went to the end of the pier for a better view. In a few minutes, all fishing had stopped as a crowd began to form. The swimmer disappeared from sight. The crowd and story circulating on the pier attracted others. Finally, a police car with flashers pulled up to the base of the pier. The officer pushed his way through the crowd while events were described to him. Standing almost next to the swimmer’s companion, one of life’s rules was laid out for that day. The officer asked – was the woman with the swimmer? Yes – she was. Why was he swimming so far from the shore? She replied, “that’s my boyfriend, he’s on the US Olympic swim team, he could swim the English channel – twice”. The officer replied, “that’s great, but where he’s swimming is shallow and he can stand up in many places”. The shallow water is warm and that attracts sharks. He was swimming where they are known to feed and that’s the problem. The swimmer returned eventually. He was fine. The police were pissed. This was in the 70’s – no arrest, the crowd dispersed.
Years later it came to me, only an Olympic swimmer could have reached the shallows where sharks congregate. That is a situation I’ll never face. Your strengths and weaknesses are inseparable – every second of every day.
I’ve seen other things in my life – different things, but those are other topics.
Some see it, some don’t – strength and weakness, life and death, good and bad – one does not exist WITHOUT the other.
– Important Correction to my last post
Welcome to Leadership Freak. Thanks for leaving your first comments. Stories help convey truths. Interesting story.
All the best to you,
Good stuff, Dan…
I am also a talker who married a quiet person. Not only that, am a thinker who married a feeler person. 🙂 That’s another whole deal that I wrote a blog about:
But back to your topic…
Indeed, the most successful people I know have opened up their “blind sides” either a little or a LOT, and this process has a little bit to do with maturation, and a little bit to do with opening up to, and **appreciating** the influence of those whose strengths compliment those blind areas.
As a dominant intuitive, I have had to work on execution and detail more (as you pointed out with the dreamer bit above..
As a thinker, I’ve had enriched my life with the perspective of feelers and now own that part of my makeup.
As a extravert (Jungian spelling), I’ve found the benefits of silence and introspection.
A nice bit to know is we all have all these capacities, and are strengths are often synonymous with our preference for what’s in our psychological inventory… and thus what we tend to practice the most.
I also agree with Maitin, that our strengths can prove curses if used without conscious, present, choice.
I believe life is often enriched buy such awareness. 🙂
Thank you for your comment. It’s always great to learn from the real life experience of others.
Your comment reminded me to listen to the people that see things differently…it’s easy to say but not always easy to do. One hindrance is my over eagerness to find a solution and move forward rather than taking a moment to challenge my own assumptions/perspective.
All the best to you,
I’m an excellent listener. What I’ve discovered recently is that I don’t talk as much as I used to. I had to examine my motives behind silencing myself and I realized that I didn’t remember to take that hat off when I was in the company of my peers. I would listen to help and not necessarily to share (my insights). I would defer to everyone else’s ideas and stifle my own. When I realized this, I began making a conscious effort to say SOMETHING while in the company of my peers. In those moments I was not the coach or counselor, I was the friend and we were shooting the breeze.
Thank you for this post. I appreciate your blog,its a liberating space that fosters our thoughts and sincere expressions.
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The idea that our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness is a great realization that most people really should come to recognize within themselves. As a great talker working in the veterinary field, it was imperative to learn to listen. Animals do not talk, but their owners do, and it is often in the smallest details that the real problem can come to light. By talking over people because you’ve already made the assumption that you have identified the problem, the real issue can be missed. It is after listening that the strength of talking can be utilized to communicate how to resolve the issue going forward.
Transitioning to the public health field, this over-utilization of one’s strength has often arisen as problematic with the implementation of public health interventions. Often individuals or organizations recognize a problem or need within a community and move forward with an intervention to address this concern. From their perspective, this need must be met, regardless of whether this is a priority for the community. These plans may be devised without the input of community leaders and organized in such a way that it benefits the functioning of the organization and not the people they are trying to reach. People using only their strengths, without expanding to recognize their weakness, has led to the downfall of many public health initiatives. What may work in one situation or community, may not work in another. By not listening to the needs of people and by making these assumptions without their engagement, can easily lead program failure. These failures highlight how an individual or group’s strengths can quickly become their downfall.
By recognizing that one’s strength can also be their greatest weakness, one can actually boost their strength by embracing their opposing weakness. Unfortunately, for most people it is difficult to recognize one’s own weaknesses and even harder to work to strengthen them. However, professionally and personally, this should probably be the personal focus for most people. Essentially, balancing the yin and yang.
Taking a sober assessment of one’s strengths and weaknesses is an important step everyone should take periodically throughout their career. It is important not to get locked down in one way of thinking about yourself. Over the course of a career your strengths and weaknesses can change, both as you gain new skills and lose the opportunity to practice others as well as the natural changes in how you interact with the world as you age and the world moves forward.
Considering how your strengths may in fact be fueling weakness (or might I suggest how your weaknesses could be parlayed into strengths?) is a good exercise to keep your self-image from becoming too crystalized. Clearly it is key not to go too far down the rabbit hole of second guessing yourself, a good leader needs to be confident and self-assured. Constant self-criticism to nit-pick the negative out of every positive will make you crazy. But as an occasional exercise to examine, then set aside I think there is a lot of merit to this.
Back to the inverse, do you feel that perceived weaknesses may have a hidden strength attached in the same way that strengths can harbor weaknesses?