Is Your Strength Your Weakness?
When I was in graduate school, I had the opportunity to intern for a small boutique consulting firm specializing in management consulting and executive coaching. My work included analyzing an executives 360 degree assessment, summarizing the data, and putting together a development plan showing them how to leverage their strengths and work on their areas of opportunity. For those of you unfamiliar with the term 360 degree feedback, it is feedback you would receive not just from your boss but from your peers and subordinates as well. If we were to give you a 360 degree feedback assessment in your personal life, we would collect data from your partner, children, friends, and other family members - maybe a sibling or a parent. Gaining feedback from multiple sources taught us a lot about the individuals we were assessing. It taught them a lot about themselves. We were able to understand how strong their strengths were and how problematic their areas of opportunity would be. We learned these individuals had hidden strengths, things they didn't think they did well but everyone else did. They also had blind spots, areas they thought they excelled at but others thought there was much improvement needed. However, what was most fascinating to me was how for some of them, their strengths actually became their weaknesses. How was that possible? For any number of reasons, these individuals OVERUSED their strength. And like anything else in life, overuse (or misuse) leads to an injury or a weakness.
We all have strengths. A lot more than we even realize. Among my strengths is "mental toughness." This is something I exhibit in all aspects of my life not only when I run. I focus. I compartmentalize. I stay calm amidst chaos. I am in control of my emotions (even when you think I am not). I calculate. I push through adversity. I have demonstrated the ability to mentally persevere through challenges that might cripple others.
This strength serves me well. Until it doesn't.
I overuse my mental strength.
Too much on my plate. Spread too thin. This warning voice in the back of my head letting me know I need to back off.
Banish those excuses.
Over the course of the last month I have tried to ignore the niggles in my shoulder, neck, left hip flexor, ITB, my knee, my increasing irritability and fatigue. I would look in the mirror and the face looking back was tired, lifeless, with dark circles under its eyes. I was too tired to put on make up to cover up how tired I looked. There was a hysterical phone call to John a few weeks ago about how "I can't do this anymore." "This" was never quite defined. Then the kids got sick. John's work hours went crazy. I got even more tired all the while slogging and grinding along.
I take on too much and I take care of my SELF too little. I realized a few weeks ago that I have lost my margin. All the white space. Gone. It's been gone for a LONG time. The buffer that allows me to breathe, to think, and to be MINDFUL in my decisions. Gone.
As I sat at my computer planning how I was going to jettison obligations from my calendar I had the distinct feeling that something was wrong. My "spidey sense" told me it was going to be bad.
Seven days later I am able to get out of bed. I am not well but I can type and think a little more clearly. The fever and horrible pain through my body is gone. My breathing is labored and the fatigue is all encompassing. Pneumonia is no joke. The mental strength that was going to help me complete the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler next weekend, I overused it and will result in a DNS.
The moral of this story - Your strengths can derail you just as much as your weaknesses.
The BODY knows the truth. Listen to it.