I’m mentoring a young man whose great strength and weakness is his energy. His mind runs at 100 MPH and it only turns off when he sleeps, if he does in fact sleep.
His physical energy may be even greater than his mental. He spends hours in the weight room and on the basketball court. Still, when he’s seated, his legs are pumping out a rhythm as if he was listening to speed-metal through invisible ear buds.
But, he looks me in the eye, and, so far, he appears to be listening. So, maybe he’s coachable. The truth of that will reveal itself over time.
If he is coachable, then I will encourage him to identify and harness his energy rather than fight it. That energy channeled will make him successful or, if unchecked, it will burn him and others around him to a crisp.
My old CEO, Pat, and I had a long conversation recently. During our chat, I was reminded of our personal strengths and weaknesses. We spent many years together learning to harness, rather than fight the best and the worst of each other.
She could take vision, my strength, and patiently but relentlessly build process, her strength. She led people to bring concepts to life.
The danger occurred when she allowed me to help her build process to execute concepts, which is a weakness of mine. On the other hand, her weakness was her strength – her obsession for process. She had to work through every detail before she felt confident in executing anything.
Early on we fought our strengths and weaknesses, and that often led to conflict.
“Just because you own a hammer, everything is not a nail”, she once said. Pat taught me how to bang away when there was a nail in the room, and to put the hammer back in my belt when she was working with nuts and bolts.
We became essential to each other’s success. Over time we had learned to stop fighting the other’s strengths and weaknesses and coach, then trust each other to harness the weaknesses. It took unending communication between us. We would talk frequently and without reserve. Over time we were able to learn to harness the best of self and each other.
And so, I will work with my energetic young friend on noticing how to harness his verve and use it more skillfully as Pat White taught me to only use the hammer on nails.
What strength are you forgetting to harness? What weakness of yours, if you have one, could be channeled as strength?