Maria Connolly, LPC Facebook Facebook Facebook

Have Your Strengths Become Your Weaknesses? Time to Use This Secret Weapon!

Your strengths become your weaknesses when you mindlessly hold onto behaviors, even good behaviors, that don’t match or help the situation you’re in.This may startle you, but many of the excellent behaviors that help women rise in their field will eventually become the behaviors that keep them from further advancement. How can that be? When can excellent behaviors hold you back? Have your strengths become your weaknesses — how can you determine that?  And then what can you do about it?

As we travel through life, we develop habitual ways of doing things. Because we successfully get through one situation doing XYZ, we conclude that XYZ is the way to be always. However, that’s supposing that the next situation has exactly the same elements, which is highly unlikely.

Each situation is unique, deserving a fresh approach. We must mindfully match the best tool/behavior with each job we do. Relying on the old, comfortable tool/behavior may make us spectacularly unsuccessful. For example, an anchor can protect a 10,000-ton ship from experiencing shipwreck. That’s awesome! But leave that anchor in the water when you need to get to your destination today, and it becomes a real drag. Similarly, a quiet demeanor may keep the peace under stressful situations, but it’s not going to get you noticed and promoted.

The Secret Weapon to Determine if Your Strength Has Become Your Weakness

Being analytical may not come to you easily. You have no time or energy to spend on going back and dissecting what happened, who said what, how everyone reacted, what progressively led to the outcome, etc. I get that! We, as Renaissance Women, have a lot of interests and we want to keep pressing forward and enjoying life to the full.

I’ll let you in on a huge secret… when you develop a practice of mindfulness, you don’t have to backtrack through an experience, trying to figure it all out. Mindfulness helps you be present throughout each step of the experience — and get this — you’re doing the assessment and making course corrections to a better outcome, while you’re in the experience. I wish this had been taught to me as a child. It’s something we all can use to make our lives more manageable.

This is so empowering! You control how much you notice. The more you notice, the more you can adjust and choose different tactics that work in each new situation.

Identify how your strengths become your weaknesses

What behaviors are you tied to, because they worked in the past, but if you examined them in the light of today, they’d be less than helpful? Consider the list below and see if you relate to any of them…

Apologetic. Owning your responsibility is good. However, it can become too much, when there’s nothing to be sorry for. Perhaps it’s a habitual way of avoiding confrontation or it’s how you deflect attention away from yourself. If you have nothing to be sorry for, convey what you really mean.

Communicative. Nothing gets done without adequate information, but too much information slows things down or reveals what is best kept private. Mindfully assess what they need to know at this precise time and share only that. Get to the point and let someone else add to it.

Controlled. Control gives us confidence and helps us determine our way. Too much control weds us to a preconceived idea of how it should be, which sucks the joy, spontaneity, and creativity out of life. Of course, there will be mistakes made, but that’s how we grow. Micromanaging stifles growth. Trust yourself and others. 

Detail-oriented. We get things right when we’re meticulous, but when we get bogged down in details we leave little room for being warm and human. Don’t be afraid to show that you’re fallible. Perfectionism is never a desired quality. It slows things down and stifles innovation. We connect over shared mistakes. The key is to not take yourself too seriously.

Generous. Giving is a wonderful virtue, however, it can become people-pleasing, when you fail to ask for what you need. Likewise, if you hold back from leveraging relationships — asking them to support or promote you — you’re robbing them of an opportunity to give. It takes strength to say “I need…”

Humility. Recognize the contribution others make. Similarly, give credit to yourself for your achievements. You can do this without boasting or putting others down. It’s all in your attitude, “they need to know what I can do and how I did it because that tells them it’s doable and we all can build on it.”

Loyalty. Keeping your word and doing a good job for your boss or clients, doesn’t mean you can’t move on when it’s time. There comes a time when you’ve fulfilled your commitment. You’ll know you’re there when your dreams are drying up. 

Modesty. Women tend to hold back and stay in the background so others can shine. There’s space for all of us to shine! We can only be effective contributors if we hold our place with dignity and respect. Our tasteful display of power empowers others.

Patience. No one likes a pushy person, however endlessly waiting for people to notice your expertise and reward your contributions is wasting time. It’s not bragging to point out the steps you’ve taken to get a project accomplished. That’s leadership!

Reflective. To avoid the same mistakes it’s good to think about what we could do differently. However, when this becomes rumination, a process of beating yourself up, blaming yourself, getting stuck in the past, well, then you’re stuck. Mindfully assess and adjust what you can, then let it go. 

Self-critical. We make progress by critiquing, without criticism. Mindful assessment without judgment is the key to creating helpful feedback for yourself and others.

Sensitivity. Caring about other people is good until it becomes unbalanced and you get lost in “sensing” others — you get too invested in what others think of you. Let others be accountable for themselves. Respect their right to choose their own way. You don’t have to make them happy. You can’t make them happy! They have to find happiness within themselves.

I hope this gives you an idea of how excellent behaviors can become weaknesses. This is not a comprehensive list, so I invite you to do some mindful assessment of what you see in your own life or in the lives of others. What behaviors have been strengths in the past, and how are they now getting in the way of advancement? 

Am I advocating that we all become selfish, insensitive braggarts? Not at all. I’m advocating that we make sure we have all the tools/behaviors we need and that we know how and when to use them.

I know how difficult it is to uproot an unhelpful, behavior, habit, or attitude. However, if you know there’s more out there with your name on it, then I invite you to my Stepping Forward Program. This program gives you 5 more indispensable tools that will empower you.

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