You have your strengths, and you’re feeling good about them. You want to move in and develop those areas. You know there’s more to be gained by investing in strengths than trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
But what if I told you the worst thing you can do once you discover your strength, is to “Let it go?” To let ‘er rip? What if your greatest limiting factors weren’t your weaknesses, but your strengths?
Let It Go
You’ve probably watched the Disney movie, Frozen. The big hit song from that movie is, “Let It Go," when Elsa comes to grips with her powers. She’s gifted with the ability to freeze things. But instead of hiding her “true self,” she lets it out, lets it go, “becomes herself.”
(Graphic is copyright The Walt Disney Company)
"It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I'm free!"
But how does this work out for her? She creates her “kingdom of isolation,” nearly kills her sister while alienating herself from everyone around her and plunges her kingdom into a frozen climate change disaster.
Pain, destruction, and loneliness follow in her frozen wake. It turns out that Elsa letting her “strength” GO isn’t automatically good. Her gift ends up controlling her—leaving her frozen, stuck, and alone.
Why does this matter to you in the real world? Because every strength has a dark side that limits your effectiveness.
What is Your Dark Side?
Think about it like this: your strength themes have tremendous power to do good, but they also have power to do ill. Just as each strength has a genius and edge that gives it power, each strength also has a dark side. The “dark side” is the overuse of your strength.
For example, the strength of “Command” ends up bullying people and “Positivity” disregards the suffering of others. “Achiever” can’t ever take a break and “Communication” shares other people’s secrets. “Context” gets stuck in the past and “Futuristic” keeps your head in the clouds.
These are examples of strengths operating on steroids, strengths in raw power. Without guidance, they can turn into something ugly. But you will be more effective in using your strengths if you’re aware of the dark side of your strengths.
I encourage you to watch out for them more than you watch out for your weaknesses. Why? Because you might trust in them too much. The worst “results” don’t come from your weaknesses, but from the dark side of your strengths. Your greatest strengths may do the most harm, just like they did for Elsa.
Come Into The Light
What can you do? Discovering your strengths is a wonderful step, but as you grow in them, watch for the dark side. Bring your strengths into the light. Seek to understand how you may overuse your strengths. Be aware that you have blind spots in how you may use your strengths.
To do this, you need honest people in your life to help you see them. Be open to their feedback. Remember, your strengths aren’t a law, they're not determinative, they're not an excuse to cop-out and say “well, that’s because I’m a ___________.”
Your strengths give you a genius and edge, be careful they don't hold you back. To learn more, download the dark side of all 34 strengths.