Do you have the innate talent that pushes you to take something already great and make it out of this world?
As always with the first article of the month, I am focusing on one of my talents and how it has shown up throughout my life. This month: Maximizer.
According to Gallup, “people who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.” In my particular case, my Maximizer has always been focused almost exclusively on seeing people’s potential. This hasn’t always ended well for me, but it is the one consistent thread of Maximizing I see throughout my life, even as a young child.
As a young girl, I was a bit of an outsider, a tomboy and not terribly concerned with fitting in. I had friends, but often those friends were also more likely to be found in the outcast category. However, I always saw something special in them, whether it be a particular kindness or intelligence or creativity, I was drawn to their uniqueness. Maximizer in my case is about seeing what’s unique in people. I also think it’s a big reason I never felt it necessary to succumb to peer pressure (this is actually an A-Ha! moment for me as I write this).
As I got older, this would weave its way into my relationships, but remember I said this doesn’t always go well for me. In my relationships, I would always find the passion of the person easily, and I would do my best to help them follow that passion or dream and make it a reality. What I didn’t understand was why so many of them didn’t want to do that. They weren’t happy with where they were, but that weren’t uncomfortable enough to make a change or take the risk. I would continue to encourage them, asking how I could help. What I didn’t realize, is that my belief in them looked more like high expectations to them.
When my relationships ended, I was often told that they felt they could never live up to my expectation of them. I could never understand this as I could only see potential and the possibility they had before them. This happens a few times and you start to see the pattern.
I still do this, but I don’t push as hard. I present opportunities, but I am also keenly aware that I am powerless to do anything about it and now follow the lead of the person I am coaching or helping.
The dark side of Maximizer is almost always perfectionism. I must admit, I had a bit more of this when I was younger, but a quick lesson from a carpenter turned it all around. When I was 26, I was managing a brand new, upscale seafood restaurant in Baltimore. Before we opened, the new bench in the bar area had a metal mesh netting which served as the back support for the seating. It was held together with clasps so that it represented a fishing net. In nearly 10 meters of netting I spotted one little clasp, hanging on its own, doing nothing. “Oh no, there’s a loose clasp, John, you must cut it off!” He calmly looked at me a replied, “No, I put it there on purpose.” What?? A mistake on purpose? He explained that he always put a flaw in his work to remind himself that he was only human and would always make mistakes. Only God was perfect. This one little lesson had a huge impact on me and my perfectionism has been in check ever since.
Do you always seek to make things better? Do you see flaws or only potential? It may not be with people, but may be with processes. Or maybe a bit of perfectionism? If so, then you too, may have Maximizer.
Jo Self is Peru’s only Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and is on a mission to disrupt the status quo and raise a Strengths-Based Generation. She believes in a world where everyone can live to their full potential, talents aren’t wasted & happiness is contagious. As a mompreneur & expat living in Peru, she understands the challenges and rewards that both entail. When she’s not helping others create extraordinary lives, she can be found at the sewing machine, at the movies, enjoying a glass of wine with friends or horsing around with her terribly precocious little boy, affectionately known as O. http://joself.consulting or email@example.com