My Biggest Strength is My Biggest Weakness

We all have a unique gift of perspective. After many hours of introspection, I’ve identified and embraced mine. I have a strong sense of empathy. Another time I may dig into why I believe I developed this gift. For today, let’s talk about strengths and weaknesses.

When I wrote this post a few days ago I was in an excellent mood. I had suffered through a couple of miles on the treadmill, eaten a light lunch and was thinking of all of the things I could accomplish for the remainder of the day. Then it happened and I’m sure it’s happened to you before. Everything is going great and then someone does or says something that bothers you and it’s as if all of the oxygen has been sucked out of your good day. You’re now in a bad mood. You’re still dreaming of the great day that could’ve been. Your gut reaction is to fight back. Mine too.

My biggest strength is understanding how people feel. I can empathize with them. My biggest weakness is that I’m a deeply emotional person. I feel everything. Even someone looking at me the wrong way can set me in a mood. And then it’s a downhill spiral. Nothing is right. Nothing is going my way. I want to disappear. And it’s in this moment of weakness that things really fall apart. I’m no longer able to work towards my goals. And even worse some of my natural, yet often negative traits, show up. I’m not friendly. I don’t make healthy decisions. In fact, in this moment, I’m just looking for something to make me feel better. Whether it’s drinking a delicious sugary beverage, ordering that expensive thing I don’t need, or ordering my favorite (but very, very unhealthy) takeout, I’m on the hunt for something that will take my mind off my very negative mindset.

I can’t accept the strength of being able to empathize with others without accepting the weakness of wearing my emotions on my sleeve. But what I can do is understand how and why I’m feeling. Lately, I’ve tried a new technique for managing these moments. Perhaps you’ll find it helpful when you’re thrown off your game:

Step One: Pause. Don’t do anything for one minute.
Step Two: Empathize. Think about the person/idea/situation that set you off. If you were on the other side of this, what would you be thinking? Would you do the same thing?
Step Three: Understand. Get out of your emotional mind and analyze the situation. A rational look at the situation will be far more helpful than an emotional one.
Step Four: Respond. Or Not. Now decide what you need to do. Sometimes you have to respond. Sometimes it’s better to move on or perhaps address the issue at another time.
Step Five: Move on. Go back to what you were doing before things fell apart. Try to forget they happened.

Give these five steps a try next time you’re thrown off your game. Chances are, you’ll make better decisions and be a much happier person.

Interested in hearing more about strengths and weaknesses? My third book co-authored by David Rendall, Pink Goldfish, comes out next year. We’re highlighting case studies of businesses who found strength by amplifying their weaknesses. Check out Dave’s TEDx talk:

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What Apple’s Latest Move Can Teach Us About Customer Experience

Screen Shot 2016-09-11 at 5.12.40 PMLast week Apple unveiled its new iPhone 7 to mixed reviews. Much of the conversation isn’t about what Apple added; rather it’s about what they removed: the 3.5mm audio jack. From a financial perspective, the technology giant’s stock price is down 5% since the announcement and analysts are blaming the lackluster product release. Amid all of this news, there are several customer experience lessons.

Blue Goldfish Lesson: Wireless is the future. Apple took a bold move by removing the 3.5mm audio jack. Many consumers dislike wires, but if asked if they wanted the jack removed, they’d likely say no. How was Apple to innovate if they kept the jack? Short answer: They couldn’t. Unlike many standalone products, Apple products are central to a larger ecosystem of accessories. Had Apple kept the 3.5mm jack, accessory manufacturers would continue making wired products.

Apple’s strong move toward wireless is a sign of things to come. Sure, wireless isn’t new. However, wireless is starting to offer performance that’s better than analog wired connections, of which the 3.5mm jack is one. Companies should take this as a sign that wireless isn’t just an option for convenience, it’s soon going to be the standard.

Purple Goldfish Lesson: You live or die by expectations. Apple came into the announcement with high expectations. Customers, analysts, and reporters were all trained by Apple to expect groundbreaking innovations at these product announcements. The iPhone 7, with the exception of the changes above, seems to be an incremental upgrade. Wait a minute? Two cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus? Waterproof to 1m and 30 minutes? These aren’t innovative features? To some extent they are, but why the lackluster reception? One word: Expectations. Apple has set expectations high, perhaps too high, and now they face the pressure of living up to those expectations multiple times a year.

Apple’s announcement and the resulting response should serve as a lesson to companies. Even the companies known for innovation and customer experience can fall short. You must constantly renew your customer expect not just to meet but to exceed ever-increasing customer expectations.

Today’s Lagniappe
Apple redefined advertising with its 1997 Think Different campaign. Steve Jobs unveiled the campaign at an internal meeting Sept. 23, 1997, just ten weeks after returning to Apple. You’ll hear about a renewed focus on the basics, quality, and innovation, which are the qualities we know and love about Apple today.

Ready to Move Your Business Forward?
A great first step is downloading a sample chapter from Blue Goldfish. Based on over 300 examples, Blue Goldfish explains how successful companies use technology, data, and analytics to drive customer loyalty and advocacy. Sign up for a account today and receive a Free Sample Chapter of Blue Goldfish.

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How To Ignore The Truth

Today I’m starting a new series of posts. My intent is to share some of my deepest thoughts with you in hopes they might be of help. Today I’m going to cover how I trick myself into ignoring the truth.

First, you should know that I’m terrible at consistency. Perhaps I’m easily bored and want to move onto the next thing. Perhaps I’m lazy. Probably some of both. Give me a project with an unreasonable deadline and I can knock it out. In many cases, I’ve worked insane hours, lost sleep and even missed other deadlines to make it happen. On the other hand, ask me to do something daily for a month, even something small, and it won’t happen. Sure, I might be great for a few days or even a week, but I will eventually crap out.

Why is this? Well, once I know I’m capable of doing something, my mind says “you’ve got this,” and now I have an excuse. Maybe it was building up my running distance like I did in April. By mid-May, I was back to old habits. You see, I had made it up to half the distance I wanted to achieve in only a quarter of the time I had planned to train. At this point, I knew I could do it and had the perfect excuse. So, somewhat subconsciously, I allowed myself to skip a run. And then two runs. And then four weeks had passed. And then I was back to square one wondering how to get started again.

I am, it seems, my own worst enemy. And perhaps you’ve experienced this, too. I’m still working through this issue, but I have developed a plan. Instead of relying upon my mind to set goals and track progress, I now rely on apps, spreadsheets, notes, or anything that can’t lie to me. By analyzing progress objectively, and not by how I feel, I’m able to tell myself the truth. Not the filtered version of the truth my mind creates—the actual truth.

One of my favorite management quotes is, “What Gets Measured Gets Managed.” It’s often attributed to Peter Drucker, although there’s no evidence he said it. I’ve seen the greatest successes in my life when I measured progress and managed to that progress. And, when I start thinking I don’t need to measure, that’s when I slip up.

What do you need to start measuring in your life? Maybe it’s a fitness goal, like me. Perhaps a financial goal. Or maybe you need to make sure you follow through on everything you say you’ll do. No matter your challenge, if you’re not measuring, you’re not managing.