I believe that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. I believe we all have something we’re naturally gifted at, but can harm you if not harnessed and used properly. Something the can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Your double edged sword.
For me, it’s my intensity.
People always call me “intense”. When I was a young age, my friends used to call me “passionate”.
I believe that I have more energy than the vast majority of people that I meet, and that my excitement at the most mundane of subjects sometimes makes others feel uncomfortable.
I know this because people have told me. It’s the most common piece of feedback that I receive from other people.
My energy is too intense for some people. It makes them feel uncomfortable. Anxious. Annoyed. Frustrated.
On the other hand though, it’s my biggest strength. My passion and my enthusiasm are what make me unique. My energy is what inspires and motivates the people around me.
The problem is the oscillation between being a motivator and inspirational person one second, and an annoying asshole the next.
Sometimes I challenge people in a great way and inspire them to take action. But other times I am met with resistance and people become angry or frustrated with me.
My biggest challenge in life is learning how to navigate this fine line. How to know when I am being inspirational vs. a annoyingly ranting. How to know when someone is receptive vs. resistant. Learning how to balance my intensity with gentleness.
My life has been a process of discovering how to hone and refine this energy. To learn how to harness my strength, but also know when to hold it back.
It’s made me realize that you have your sword out all the time you’re bound to eventually cut yourself. It requires discipline to know when to take it out, and even more discipline to know when to put it back in.
The journey of life lies not only in discovering your double edged sword, but teaching yourself how to properly use it.
For example, I have a few friends who are the opposite of me. They are amazing listeners. They are tranquil, calm, and even-keeled people.
While this seems like a strength on the surface, they often struggle to voice themselves properly. in difficult times they have a hard time communicating and expressing themselves.
They struggle to feel understood, because they are always the ones who understand others around them.
Their challenge lies in learning how to become more outspoken. Their great listening prevents them from taking the same effort to try and express themselves.
While my struggle is to turn down my intensity and speak less, their challenge is to turn up their intensity and speak more. Depending on our individual dispositions we have different swords we must learn to yield.
As individuals we must learn to examine ourselves. Be honest with ourselves and identify where our strengths may lie, but vulnerable enough to admit how those strengths might also be hurting our efforts.
It’s difficult to do this level of introspection on your own though, so sometimes it helps to get an outside perspective. Source opinions of those who are closest to you to see how your strengths might have some accidental drawbacks.
For example, when I was working at a job after college my boss told me,
“I love your energy and enthusiasm. When you dive into something, you dive into it with all of your spirit. You live and breathe what you are doing. HOWEVER, in your eager enthusiasm, you tend to overlook small details. In your conviction of what you want to do, you become combative defending your points, instead of remaining open to feedback. Then your energy overwhelms the other person, and they stop giving you feedback because they know you aren’t open to it.”
I knew that all of this was true. My eager enthusiasm was both my strength and my weakness.
Similarly, the other day I was having a conversation with a friend about this topic. He said to me, “I scare people sometimes” in reference to his intensity at work.
The same intensity that drives sales is what intimidates teammates. The same energy that contributes ideas that are valuable to the company, rub people the wrong way because he might not be sensitive enough when delivering the message.
The good news is that we can learn to overcome these double edged swords of ours. Get feedback from friends, family, and colleagues. Ask people what they think your greatest strengths are. Ask them what your biggest weaknesses are. Examine if there is any corollary link between your strengths and weaknesses.
Once you discover the drawbacks of your strengths, take action to create systems for yourself. Do what you can to prevent yourself from falling into the downsides of the trends you have previously identified.
If/when you get cut, it’s ok. Be grateful that you have this opportunity to learn and improve. Let the cut heal and do your best to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again.
Discover your double edged sword so you can become the best version of yourself. So that you can become the samurai master of life and cut through problems with precision mastery. 💪
Also published on Medium.