Save Us From Our Strengths – via The Energy Project

Save Us From Our Strengths – The Energy Project.

I can see it now. Like in a dream. In the not so distant future, workplaces will be more efficient than ever.

Imagine a scenario when newly hired employees are pre-assessed, assessed again and then surveyed about their strengths before their very first day.

When they pull their hybrid hovercraft into the parking lot and shuffle through the doors, perhaps they’ll be handed t-shirts to wear that display their pre-determined strengths… “Superb Listener”, one organic shirt might say.

Okay, maybe this is overkill…besides, hovercrafts are SO 2050… but Tony Schwartz and The Energy Project make a serious case that spending so much time and effort on building “strength-based” organizations “narrow[s] attention to the preferred aspects of ourselves [and] vastly oversimplifies who we are, what stands in our way, and what it takes to operate at our best.”

“So, too, for strengths. The missteps we make and the damage we inflict on others is less the result of failing to fully utilize our strengths and more the consequence of overvaluing and over-relying on them — precisely because they come more easily to us.”

Are we afraid to let weaknesses enter the picture, for fear that no one will take the time and effort to change? 

The challenge in developing strengths is not to over-emphasize them or to use them to pigeon-hole your workforce. Instead, as The Energy Project indicates  it’s to learn flexibility, adaptability, balance, and empathy so then we can dial up or down our strengths at appropriate times and moments.

“No strength is reliably a strength by itself. Too much passion eventually becomes overbearing, but too much sober moderation leads to boring blandness. Too much introspection devolves into self-absorption, but too little results in superficiality. Confidence untempered by humility turns into arrogance. Tenacity unbalanced by flexibility congeals into rigidity. Courage without prudence becomes recklessness. Charm ungrounded in authenticity is simply disingenuousness.

To make the most of what we’ve got, we must instead take on the messy whole of who we are. That means making the best possible use of our strengths, but also slogging away at the weaknesses they can serve to reveal.

We don’t need leaders who’ve got it figured out. Rather, we need ones who feel confident in and clear about their strengths, but are also courageous enough to recognize and take on their shortcomings. It’s a paradoxical challenge we all face: to hold ourselves fiercely accountable for becoming more of what we’re capable of being, but to simultaneously accept ourselves exactly as we are.”


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