I want to do something a bit different today and show you an example of what I call the shadow side of strengths.
For me, it was when three of my top talents banded together, in their very usual pattern, to hurt someone I care about.
This incident happened a long time ago, but it’s only now that I’m so hyper-aware of my strengths that I understand exactly why it happened and how these patterns still plague me.
When I was in my 20s, one of my best friends lost her father. I knew he was sick, and I called her a lot to check in and get updates. And then came the day when she told me he had just died earlier that morning. I froze. I remember staying on the phone with her for what seemed like hours, just listening, with tears streaming down my face.
After that, I wasn’t there for her as much as I should have been.
I just couldn’t get myself to call her; I was paralyzed with fear because I felt so deeply. If she was in pain, I was in pain and I couldn't handle it.
I was at constant odds with myself about this and it was tearing me apart inside. I knew I should call, but I was so afraid to hear her sad and to go down in those depths with her.
And now I know why.
My three top strengths are Empathy, Positivity, and Harmony.
Because of my empathy, I feel what others feel. Their pain is my pain.
Because of my Positivity, I'm naturally enthusiastic about things, and life, and I always try to see the bright side.
And my Harmony freaks out when my world is in conflict.
So those three seemingly sugar-coated strengths were like a recipe for disaster for me in this situation.
Back then, I wanted to just hide my head in the sand and pretend it hadn't happened.
So I didn't call.
I still deeply regret my actions; My friend needed me and I wasn't there. And I've had to live with that.
The best gift for me has been a deep awareness of the potential "limitations" of my very happy-go-lucky talents. Because now I can circumvent what I know might happen.
I’m on to myself, and it's powerful.
I know I’m not alone with this. We all have trouble dealing with things we're uncomfortable with, whether it be death, confrontation, praise, love, success, making money, feeling worthy...and the list goes on.
This one is my cross to bear and I work on it every day.
I encourage you to recognize your own talents – the why you do what you do – and all the ways those talents help you succeed every day.
But I also encourage you to be brave enough to recognize the shadow side of those talents. Because maybe, they're keeping you from charging forward in your career like you know you can, and you know you deserve.
I believe self-awareness is critical to our success as actors.
So knowing how you naturally show up, for better or for worse, and in whatever scenario or situation is thrown your way, is gold.
P.S. I have since apologized to my friend, and we're still very close.