You might be surprised to learn that your weaknesses are your strengths. How can that be, you ask?
For example, let’s consider the strengths that many leaders and entrepreneurs possess. Goal oriented, driven, hardworking, competitive, and achievement oriented, to name a few. Great strengths to have as a leader. These attributes are fundamental for businesses to get off the ground, grow and break-through milestone, after milestone. So, how can a high achiever orientation be a weakness?
I have worked with many CEOs and entrepreneurs who take great pride in these strengths. One leader described how he is driven to keep moving the goal posts. He said that as soon as the goal is in sight of being accomplished, he is no longer satisfied with getting there. He immediately compels himself to set a new more distant goal. And again, you ask… so what is the problem?
The damage is two-fold. First, there is a negative consequence on the people who are doing the work, those in the trenches getting the goal accomplished. Secondly, although not as obvious in the short term, there is a cost to the leader as well. Let me explain the consequences for both.
Assuming that the original goal was clearly defined and the value in achieving it was well articulated, people are working steadily and faithfully to get the project completed. If the goal posts move before the work is completed, people lose faith in the value of the work they are doing. They start to feel as though their efforts are not good enough, that their work won’t make enough of a difference in the end, since the end (as first presented) is no longer the prize. When people work towards a stated goal that fades with importance and there is no celebration for its accomplishment, then people feel defeated and under-valued. They feel as though they have become ‘units of production’ rather than partners in a quest. It reminds me of the myth of Sisyphus, a Greek King who was punished for eternity to push a large rock up a steep hill, only to have it roll back down as he neared the top.
Consequences for the leader who changes the goal post comes in two ways. First, they lose the efforts and faith of the team they were counting on to achieve the goal. Secondly, it becomes a self-fulling prophecy to be dissatisfied with any accomplishment. Even if there is a celebration when the first goal is achieved, the sense of satisfaction quickly fades, and attention goes to what is not yet accomplished. As the brain loves patterns and readily repeats a thought, the untrained mind repeats the pattern. As Shirzad Chamine explains in his book “Positive Intelligence” many people go to their graves trying to complete their next task, achieve their next goal. Chamine names this pattern of thought as “hyper achiever”. The hyper-achiever is “dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation. Highly focused on external success, leading to unsustainable workaholic tendencies and loss of touch with deeper emotional and relationship needs.”
An untrained mind does not recognize the fault in the pattern, the negative impact on themselves and others. The energy and joy of laser-focused action is compelling and infectious, while the energy of a striving, urgent and insatiable inner voice creates separation and disillusionment.
The question that begins this article is about recognizing leadership weaknesses, but it is also about recognizing how to control or balance your strengths for your own good and for the sake of your colleagues.
If you are looking for ways to shift the weakness of hyper achievement to a strength, join the thousands of people practicing in mental fitness programs across the globe. For more information contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a free coaching session via https://calendly.com/diane-tnt/30min
This is one in a series of stories about nasty self-talk. The things we say to ourselves as we go about our daily activities and that grows louder when we need to sleep. These saboteur messages are based on a body of research that includes Positive Psychology, Neuroscience, Performance science & Cognitive Psychology and adapted for the Mental Fitness Program designed by Shirzad Chamine author of “Positive Intelligence”. The stories are based on how I experience the saboteurs.