My buddy Adam is a guy you’d probably love to hate.
He’s a self-made millionaire at 30, owns a penthouse in NYC (yes, that NYC), and lives a so seemingly perfect life; you’d wish he would spill mustard on his shirt every now and again to prove he’s still human.
At least, that’s just me.
He made his money as a real estate developer who has an uncanny ability to find and quickly put together deals. Whereas a mere mortal would agonize over the details, Adam cannonballs into his deals and makes a splash.
But oddly enough — his greatest strength of being a quick decision-maker turned out to be his greatest weakness. Currently, he’s spending about $48,000 in legal fees, regretting not reading the small print.
The scary thing about Adam is… he’s just like you.
Do you know that one thing you’re really good at? The thing that makes you feel like a superhero, capable of conquering the world.
Yeah, that thing.
Well, I’m here to tell you that your thing might just be your Achilles heel, and if you’re not careful, it will be your undoing.
And it’s because you too may be a victim of the greatest paradox that exists:
Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness.
And today, we’re going to find out why.
The Paradox of Strength and Weakness
First, let’s break down this paradox like a seasoned camper breaking down a tent.
Your greatest strength is the attribute or skill that sets you apart from the crowd.
It’s the thing you excel at, the reason you receive accolades, and what keeps you in demand in your chosen field.
But, as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and sometimes your greatest strength can be your undoing.
When we lean too heavily on our strengths, we can develop blind spots that leave us vulnerable.
It’s like driving a car with a ridiculously powerful engine but no turning. Sure, you’ll go fast, but sooner or later, shit’s going to hit the fan when the road turns. And believe me… the road turns.
In other words, your greatest strength is more like a two-sided sword.
It cuts both ways.
Meaning whatever you’re really good at can also cut into you because it leaves your blind spot exposed.
To dive deeper, let’s go back to my friend Adam.
The Sword Cuts Both Ways
Adam is successful in real estate for many reasons, but especially because he moves fast — he does more deals in one month than most people do in one year.
However — sometimes, he doesn’t think things completely through. Sometimes he doesn’t notice the big details, disguised as small details — which has bitten him in the ass on more than one occasion.
From dealing with financial loss, zoning issues, and having to stomach an overflowing plate of buyer’s remorse, most of his problems could have been mitigated by showing some restraint on his greatest strength.
The sword cuts both ways.
One of my greatest strengths is my overactive imagination. Without sounding like a complete douche, (it’s probably too late), I’ve used my strength to make a career out of writing, which I’m incredibly blessed to have.
However, because I have an overactive imagination, I tend to overthink EVERYTHING, and I can’t turn my brain off. It’s very annoying and plays out in frustrating ways.
For example, if one of my friends were to innocently ask me, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” after I decline to go out — whereas a normal person may reach the conclusion, “Yeah, you’re right.” I can come up with a Stephen King novel of worst-thing-that-can-happen-ideas that’s all too overflowing with details. And frankly, that’s not too healthy.
As I said, the sword cuts both ways.
So how can we dull the blade to stop accidentally cutting ourselves?
You Can Fight Back by Building Up Complementary Skills
My friend Travis is a computer science genius who I suspect may be a robot. If you get him under the hood (casing?) of any computer, he can name every part and tell you what it does in excruciating, tedious detail. Sorry Travis, you know I love you!
He is legitimately so good with computers that he started an IT company that has taken off like The Roadrunner in a Looney Tunes cartoon.
However, for as good as he is, he lacks one key complementary skill — communication. And that’s the exact complementary skill he needs to take full advantage of his strength.
For as tech-savvy as Travis is, he SUCKS at communication. For example, he can’t really explain what he does in a way that’s easy to follow, especially to people who aren’t tech-savvy.
So when he’s on calls, helping people fix their computers — it’s usually pretty frustrating for him and his customers. They don’t understand each other, and there’s nothing more frustrating than having a problem and not understanding how to fix it.
And it’s not just Travis — we all have complementary skills we neglect.
As I mentioned, I have an overactive imagination that causes me to live in my head and not in the moment. The complementary skill I need to work on is restraint. I need to know when to turn it off.
My buddy Adam moves fast and can really benefit from practicing patience. (Or hiring someone to practice it for him.)
And you have what you have. But I’ve found that what helped me build my complementary skill the most was pretending it was a muscle at the gym.
Your New Fitness Regimen
Think of your complementary skill as that poor, neglected muscle you’ve been avoiding because it’s just too damn challenging to work out or dull. Or, let’s be real, it’s probably both.
Just as a personal trainer would have you work out the supporting muscles while rehabbing a knee injury, it’s time to show some TLC to those underdeveloped skills that complement your main strength.
Get down to business and flex those overlooked muscles. When I catch myself overthinking, I remind myself to pump the brakes and ask if it’s even necessary to dive that deep.
I work the muscle out.
For my buddy Adam, I’d recommend a checklist that makes him take it slow or even hire someone who’s all about the nitty-gritty. And that’s actually what he did.
He worked the muscle out.
And whatever you need to improve, find a way to work on it.
Be patient. It’s going to be a real pain in the ass at first. But that’s just part of the wild, chaotic adventure we call life.
C’est la vie, my friend. C’est la vie.
Striking a Balance: Embracing Your Strengths and Acknowledging Your Weaknesses
So, what’s the solution? Should you downplay your strengths and focus on your weaknesses?
Should you become maniacally crazed about improving yourself and swear off reading fiction?
Should you dye your hair red, buy a clown nose and join the circus?
Instead, the key is to strike a balance, embracing your strengths while acknowledging and addressing your weaknesses.
If you’re a fast decision-maker, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re considering all the relevant information and potential consequences before making a choice.
If you’re an overthinker, limit yourself on how much time is appropriate to consider a situation.
If you’re an IT wizard who can’t seem to relate to people, practice social skills and communication.
Find the balance in the force, Luke. Find the balance in the force.
It’s essential to recognize that your strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin. By embracing the duality of your talents, you can become a more complete and balanced person.
And who doesn’t want that?
Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. But with proper balance, you can help keep yourself from tipping.
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