Q: Can my strengths actually turn out to be weaknesses?
A: This is a recent question from Eric, who says he feels that sometimes his strengths seem to hinder his growth in his current role. How can he ensure that he identifies when this is occurring and what steps can he take to ensure his ‘overdrive’ is not detrimental to himself and others?
It’s good to be aware that your strengths and the things that motivate you – however energising – can become your weakness. The things that motivate you, energise you and light you up can be to your detriment if you overuse them or use them in overdrive.
It is similar with strengths; the things you are strong at can sometimes be overused because you are good at them and enjoy doing them. This can occur quite easily, as you may not be aware how often you are doing these things. As they naturally motivate you, you may do them at a subconscious level.
We have both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators
Let’s start off by having a look at extrinsic motivation.
This type of motivation occurs where the motivational factors are external to us. Our actions here are performed as a means to an end and this is usually valued more than the actual activity itself. An example of this could be exceeding a sales or business target to receive a monetary incentive or an award on stage. Intrinsic motivation is a different case, as the motivating factors emanate from within us and are determined by the way we feel about what we are doing.
If working on achieving a business target or incentive, a person may feel they are gaining personal satisfaction, excitement and having fun. These are examples that the person, in this case, is experiencing intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation can have the greatest potential to create an ongoing behaviour of activity and adherence. Social psychologists have long identified that a sense of ownership is crucial for people to feel intrinsically motivated.
When an individual experiences development combined with a sense of autonomy over the actual process of development, they will feel an increased boost in their motivation to progress.
When working with people who may have different motivators to ourselves, we need to be conscious of these in order to work even better together and complement each other. In this example my colleague was more of a realist and was motivated to solve problems, where as I was goal oriented and optimistic. This frustrated her as she saw me as unrealistic; whereas I saw her as being negative. In either case, we were both right but just needed to understand each other better and fine-tune the level of what motivated each of us.
Feed and satisfy what motivates you, but always check in to ensure your self-motivators aren’t in overdrive and to the detriment of you and others.
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