How one client discovered that sometimes your strengths are a sword that cuts both ways
I started working with a new client recently who needed some help turning around her failing relationship…and she wanted some support in starting her new business at the same time. While that might correctly seem like 2 very different jobs, the truth is that human beings aren’t compartmentalized very well and we tend to use strategies that work for us in one context of life and then carry them over into other very different areas. There are no “fences” in the human personality. In fact, I made some huge changes in my life after someone I trusted pointed out to me that frequently “what you do in one thing is how you do everything.” I know that may sound unbelievable at first but I’d be willing to bet there are undiscovered patterns running (or ruining) your life as you read this. In fact, it’s DISCOVERING the undiscovered patterns that will help you turn your life around with A LOT less stress.
Here’s a great example of what I mean…
My client and I were able to make a great deal of progress in a very short period of time. One of the first things I asked her to do was take an assessment I recommend that helps identify your greatest strengths. However, when I got the results back from her, I was a little taken aback. That’s because it became obvious to me that her greatest strengths in business were simultaneously sabotaging her relationship success. She had been in a long-term relationship that had been going downhill for years and in fact, she had recently moved out of the home they shared and moved far away to begin anew. However, when her guy seemed to come to his senses somewhat and was ready to follow her to a new city, she wanted my help to figure out if it was salvageable.
It’s not a strength if it weakens you!
Despite my disagreement, this particular assessment revealed that significance was her 4th greatest strength out of her top 5. The way the test reveals it, she is driven to be significant and valued so it is her drive to succeed that fuels her and leads to much of her success in the business environment. However, I see how that sword cuts both ways…especially in her intimate relationships. The truth of the matter is – in order to have both success AND fulfillment that LASTS – significance is an inside game. It’s not something you get from what others say…or how much they pay you…or what they think of you. It comes from you knowing your value from within and performing from a place of “fullness” rather than “emptiness.” In fact, most of my work comes from helping my clients rediscover their value and feeling great about what they bring to the table in any aspect of life, whether it be an intimate relationship, as a parent or on the job, etc. In this particular client’s case, not knowing her value led to her accepting way too little for way too long. What’s even worse, the less she got, the more “undeserving” she felt and the downward spiral continued for years until she couldn’t take any more. Can you see how this can happen?
Let’s take a look at her other “strengths”
My client’s top 2 strengths seemed like polar opposites on paper so in some ways, that might appear to be very balanced and effective…but not in her relationships. Her greatest strength of Futuristic made sure she saw and got mesmerized by potential and her 2nd strength as an Activator drove her to take action and make things happen. You can’t beat that in a corporate environment when vision and a can-do attitude are highly valued attributes…but it was a train wreck in her relationship because it caused her years of inaction, confusion and paralysis that kept her stuck and settling. In essence, she spent years of her life in a relationship with one foot on the brake and one on the gas. I don’t recommend that by the way…
What about the last 2 strengths?
My client’s 3rd greatest strength was learner and again, that served her in her career very well. The problem was it kept her in her head more than in her heart and made her far more analytical. The problem with that is that she could argue both sides of a position ad nauseum – and she’d done just that for years. Her heart knew the truth even if her head wouldn’t hear it. Lastly, her 5th greatest strength was maximizer. That’s about constantly trying to make something unacceptable into something great. That might sound like a great trait in your staff, but when it comes to trying to change someone who doesn’t want to change, it’s a huge waste of time and energy. In fact, when you take a step back and look at her complete list of strengths, it wasn’t so much a list of traits as it was a recipe for being totally and completely stuck.
Can you see why this is valuable?
In just the moments it took to read this, I just explained how a woman stayed stuck literally for years trying to fix a nice enough guy who just blocked her at every turn. To be fair, he acknowledged that he was severely wounded emotionally but that is a condition best met with compassion and support for him to do the work that only he can do; no amount of patience will compel him to go where he fears to go. Ironically, this woman tried to hand him the key to a prison of his own making but he wouldn’t take it. My point in sharing this story is to point out that all this information was right there hiding in plain sight. That’s because human behavior is not nearly as randomly confounding as some unaware people might believe. In fact, it’s entirely predictable when you see the invisible patterns that others can’t or won’t see. As a coach and behavioral strategist, I helped my client see this pattern quickly and solve it. Today, she’s well on her way and in a better place than she’s been in years.
What’s sabotaging you?
As a neurostrategist, I may be able to help you connect the dots in a way that will give you a new understanding on an old challenge. For instance, maybe what kills it in the boardroom is killing you in the bedroom. Or maybe your needs aren’t being met because you haven’t understood them, communicated them or requested them in a way that makes your partner WANT TO meet them. There is a way to turn this around. Not all relationships need to end – but sometimes we need a new strategy to shift them. After all, when you keep doing what you’ve always done, the predictable result is getting what you’ve always gotten. Let’s talk and I might very well be able to show you a better way.