While I was obtaining my MBA I had an instructor who used to always say, “a strength overdone becomes a weakness.” She emphasized that we need to be aware when we take something to the extreme and the ramifications of doing that.
I didn’t believe her when I first heard this. I have always been of the belief that we need to maximize our strengths. By leveraging our strengths we can achieve much more than if we simply try to fix our weaknesses.
But over time I have come to appreciate her insight. The reality is that we all know people who have strengths that get overdone and become weaknesses.
Accountants are great with numbers and data. But if they overdo it they can easily become too inundated with numbers to be able to pull meaningful insight from the data.
I remember reading about a woman who wanted to work in drug rehabilitation facilities. She had her PhD and read everything she could on the subject. But when she got the opportunity, she couldn’t relate to the addicts. Often a former addict with no formal education did a better job helping the patients because he or she understood what it was like to be an addict, despite the fact that didn’t have any formal education.
Being good with numbers or having a formal education is normally considered a strength. But we need to understand the limitations that will naturally occur in these instances.
One of my areas of weakness that has been developed by overdoing a strength, is patience. Early in my career I was very ambitious. I didn’t realize that when overdone this can develop into a lack of patience.
But patience is incredibly important when relying on systems and habits changes to improve. If we are ambitious and want it NOW, we can easily sabotage all of the work we have put in and the foundation that we had built.
We have to be able to balance between ambition and patience. Being able to put in place small steps that can grow overtime is one of the best ways to improve. But it comes with a price. The price is time. We have to continue to work on building this habit over time. But if we can, the results are impressive.
One way that I have been able to improve my weakness of being impatient is by shifting my focus. I change from a focus on getting it done now, to a focus on making progress now. I focus my ambitious mindset to getting starting and putting in place systems and habits.
This allows me to develop patience. I can be patient knowing that I am making progress. I still get the occasional charge of ambitious energy where I want it now, but I have since learned to temper that emotion. As long as I am making progress I calm my mind and maintain focus on the process.
Overdoing strength can become a weakness. By ignoring the paradoxical nature of things we can miss that. But if we understand this principle we can continue to maximize our strengths without creating critical areas of weakness. We can take a much more balanced approach to reach our goals and objectives.