My conversations with clients this month have focused extensively on this question.  All of us have strengths which are fantastic, enable us to achieve extraordinary results, work brilliantly with others, overcome a wide range of challenges and obstacles, and such strengths are quite simply part of who we are.  

And yet… there will always be specific, individual contexts in which specific strengths do not work for us, and instead, they work against us.

For example, if you are driven, determined, and willing to invest whatever time and energy is required to succeed, then clearly, these are strengths which contribute to your professional success.  However, when you are overly tired, under pressure, feeling unappreciated and are someone who hasn’t laughed enough recently, rested enough recently, exercised enough recently, and asked for help enough recently, then these strengths aren’t working for you, they are working against you.

So, quite simply, the answer to the question ‘when is a strength not a strength?’ is this: when the strength is overplayed.

This reveals a development opportunity for all of us.  Overplayed strengths are situation specific; they are not failings.  They are strengths which aren’t helping in a particular context.  As a result, they invite our curiosity, our openness and willingness to learn, garner the right resources, and get the support we need to be more effective in such situations in the future.

Until next time….

Sarah Brummitt