EMPATHIZE: Strengths and Weaknesses Are Often the Same Thing
The same goes for all kinds of strengths and weaknesses. So let's take a look at this list now and who has a strength that is also a weakness? I tend to be disorganized and then also be creative. What do you got, Tudo?
Creative, disorganized. We know how it works. Who else?
It's the motivated and obsessive.
Yes, motivated and obsessive. Now here's, this is where, I'll call on you in a second, but this is really important in teams and in teamwork. Do you want a motivated obsessive person to kick off a project? Yes you do, cause they're the ones that are gonna get things going, they're gonna rally the troops, and they're gonna start things off. Do you want a creative disorganized person signing off on your detailed accounting documents? Probably not unless you're Enron, right? And so forth, if you're, any detailed-oriented perfectionists in the group? If you are, you are the person that you want to look over the final documents. And so putting people on yo...
ur team in for the right task at the right time based on their skill level and experience is the way to maximize this. So any direct honest, blunt rude people in the room? Come on up. I'm gonna pull up Tudo. I'm gonna have a little hot seat Q and A. So let's say you're in a meeting right now and you're being true to form, okay? So you're being you. You're not trying to fix something. And somebody brings up an absolutely horrible idea and everybody in the room is just sort of nodding and smiling. What do you say?
Ugh, I'll probably try to say a better idea.
Right, but you're not gonna just let it go, right?
No. And this is the thing. If you fixed being... If you fix a weakness you run the risk of destroying the corresponding strength. If you fix being blunt and rude, that's how bad ideas are born, because nobody in the room was saying maybe there's a different way to do this or does anybody besides me think this is a bad idea. And that's the danger of fixing weaknesses because you run the risk of destroying the corresponding strength. So I'm gonna teach you a way to deal with this based on a co-worker of mine that's done this. Now this may not work for you.
But here's one way to do it. So my friend, McRay, does the following. So we were, my third or fourth day of my new job and he pulled, so we're both pretty senior at this firm, right? So the senior ranks in the early goings that's pretty conservative and you dance around things. You don't get to personal too quick, right? The third day he pulls me aside and says, "Hey John, I just want you to know "I'm kind of an asshole." And I thought this is a really weird thing to say to somebody this early on and what does that mean? I thought it was a joke. I was looking for the smile, right? But he was totally serious. And I say okay. He said I just want you to know that whatever comes in here, comes out here. I have no filter, I just say what comes into my head. I'm probably gonna piss you off in some meetings. Sorry in advance.
And you know what? Everybody loves this guy because you know where he stands. There's no passive aggressiveness. He says what he thinks, you know he's gonna say what he thinks and we actually turn that, it's on it's head and we took that same weakness and strength and we made it into superpower for the team. We would bring him in to meetings when we were all in love with an idea and say all right, well we better get McRay in here. Cause somebody needs to tell the truth. So we called him the salty truth teller of the team. So that's one way to design around is simply to accept and announce that you have a certain weakness. If you are a detail-oriented perfectionist, you should probably tell people cause they're gonna wonder why you're nitpicking their stuff until they know but they day that they know they're gonna be like oh, well let's run this through Sara cause Sara will find the stuff we're missing. So anteing up your strengths and weaknesses is a great way to design around. Does that make sense?
Lots of sense.
Awesome, well thanks for coming up, Tudo.
Any other strength/weakness pairs in the group before we move forward? Yes?
[Woman In Audience] Detail-oriented.
And perfectionist, yeah.
Yeah, so you probably make people crazy sometimes?
I recheck a lot. (laughs) Which I shouldn't because it slows things down.
Right, but that same weakness is also a strength. At the end of the day if you want things right you should be the final fact checker, the final person to look things over. You don't have to do all the original creative work but you want someone like you to sign off on things. So this is where it gets really tough with teams because I think what we do a lot of times, I used to have eight marketing managers working for me. Same job title. And so in the name of fairness I used to have them all do the same thing cause that's fair. Disregarding completely that they all had different experience, different strengths, different skills, different backgrounds. All this diversity we hired for that I threw out the window because I wanted to be fair and follow the job spec. Now that didn't work very well. In fact my team was fairly unhappy. The first year review came back and it wasn't very positive. What I did then after that I learn about strengths finder and I had people take that and I started having people do the tasks they were best at, which was totally unfair. And one year later, to a day later, we had an incredibly engaged, committed team because everybody got to do more and more of what they were best at and delegate or defer away things that they were not great at. Not everything of course, but when you can spend at least a good portion of your day doing things you love, it really changes dynamics on the team. So that's a way to design for these things. Here's the other secret silver lining to strengths and weaknesses. First is that if you fix the weakness you run the risk of destroying the corresponding strength. When they fixed, tried to fix, my aerobic capacity, I got no better, right? I went from 52 to 52 to 52. But here's the other thing is my peak power, the only superpower I had as an athlete, went from 1,740 to 1,500 to 1,250 over two years. So I got no better at what I was bad at and I got a lot worse at what I was good at. This is the same risk review. The other thing that's true here though is if you have a weakness that you wrote down and you didn't identify the corresponding strength, you probably have it. You probably have it and if you don't know it, ask someone, they'll tell you. And if you are... You know, for example, one of the ones on here that I really like is if you're risk averse, you're probably also responsible. These are the caretakers, these are the people you need to put in charge of things to get done but if you don't know that you're responsible you just think you're risk averse, then you're not gonna be able to step in to be that caretaker, or be the one that follows up on all the details. I took a 360 review after my first year in enterprise and all 17 of my directs and indirects used the word calm to describe me. And I was sort of flustered because I'm like don't you see what's going on back here? Like don't you see the dog paddling under the water. Like I don't feel calm at all most of the time but probably from years of competing at a high level I apparently showed up as calm. I learned how to temper my reactions to crisis and events and I showed up as calm. But I didn't know that strength until they told me and after that when things would go off the rails and things would get crazy I would actually step forward for the first time and say all right, this is what the team expects of me. I can actually do this. I'm gonna show up as calm and get things done. So you might have a hidden superpower disguised as a weakness. So take a look at that list, ask somebody, and make sure you step into that superpower. So here's the thing that just strikes me. You might have this hidden superpower. This guy, does anybody know who this is? This is Matt Stutsman. Matt, I think, is the greatest living example of somebody who's weakness is also an incredible superpower. So Matt's 34, or 35 now. He lives in Iowa. He drives a pickup truck to work every day. He has three children and he's married. He hunts, he gardens, he's just a normal guy. That's my daughter by the way. He's a normal guy and, but Matt was born with no arms. So everything we take for granted with opposable thumbs is harder for Matt. But still he's learned adjust. He uses his feet to tie his shoes and feed himself and he's sort of learned to get by. But still it's a weakness. There's no way to hide the fact that having opposable thumbs makes us more capable of doing certain things like sports for example, right? Sports, cause Matt in sports, it doesn't make sense or does it? Matt holds the World's Record for the longest accurate archery shot. He won a silver medal in London. He was fourth in Rio and he's on the able-bodied Olympic team for Tokyo. This is not despite his weakness. It is because of it. Because his legs are just as nimble as our arms and twice as strong. So he pulls with more compression than anybody in the world and he shoots more arrows. He can practice longer cause he doesn't get tired and he's more steady than anybody in the world, hence the World Record. He is an amazing archer because of that weakness, not despite it. So maybe you have a superpower too that you need to lean into. So back to the Olympic Training Center. After two years of this, of banging my head against the wall, I was frustrated beyond belief and after getting at the US trials I was ready to quit. I was ready to quit, I mean it was terrible. I'd wasted two years of my life with no income, and suffering every day and I thought you know what, this isn't for me. I probably should just quit and leave the sport. But there's this window that occurs when you're willing to quit something but you haven't yet, be it a job, a career, a major, a relationship, where you get this thing called perspective. For a brief moment you can unwind your emotional attachment to whatever this thing you're trying to solve and say wait, should I keep doing this. Maybe I should do something different. Maybe I should quit it. Maybe I should reframe my approach and sometimes when you do that, this is what happens. When you back up and get perspective sometimes you realize that all you needed to do was step over a little bit and try a slightly new approach and design around that obstacle rather than try to plow through it and sometimes that leads to incredible, incredible results.