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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