Strengths Have their Dark Side, Too

It should be no surprise to anyone who reads this blog or who knows me that one of my foremost strengths – and something that is immensely gratifying to me – is my passion for building relationships. I get a kick out of getting to know people better, contributing to their lives and organizations, and encouraging growth. This ability to authentically connect with others may be one of the foremost reasons I have achieved success in my career and business.


Tied to this is the trust and loyalty that is fostered as these relationships grow.


The thing is, relationships are a primary driver in my life. It is innate within me to deliberately seek not simply to work with others, but to connect, to engage, and to serve. For me, a relationship has value only if it is genuine.


This reality, however, is fraught with risk. And a few lessons and transitions in my career have been born of it. Because, though I may have a sense of loyalty to someone (client, friend, partner, colleague, etc.), this loyalty is not always reciprocated. And not everyone is hardwired with the same motivations as me. Which is not necessarily wrong. However, when I don’t get that loyalty in return, I’m not afraid to admit that my feelings vacillate from disappointed to annoyed to downright angry.


That’s when I have to stop and put things in check. Yes, my “relational” proclivity is a valuable asset but – as with all of us and our strengths – there is a dark side to these areas of top performance and talent. We all need to be aware of the weaknesses or drawbacks that come with those characteristics we consider to be so crucial to our success.


In my case, I realize that I often place my demands and expectations on other people. And that’s not always reasonable. Not everyone has this same approach or priority in their relationships, and that’s fine. We are all different.


Remember that saying about how we can have “Too much of a good thing?” Even sometimes the greatest elements can have their drawbacks. Some situations or dynamics call for us to manage our strengths. My answer has been to recognize that, with putting myself out there so much when it comes to connecting with others, there will always be risks. I may even get my heart stomped on a few times.


But that’s a chance I am willing to take.


We can only begin to “manage” our strengths when we realize that these strengths, like people in general, aren’t infallible.



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