My volume was blaring and his head was throbbing…but maybe not in the way you think.
Seven or eight years ago, in our years pre-kids and pre-sleep deprivation, David and I had a lovely morning routine that consisted of driving to CrossFit at the break of dawn to boost our endorphins and fire up our competitive juices for the day. We shared buckets of sweat among friends and heaved ungodly weights to the sounds of “Black Betty.”
It was bliss.
One morning, as we began to warm up our bones and slowly urge our bodies to awaken and join the world, I was jolted by an unexpected CRASH. What I thought had to be the sound of a weight barreling out of control onto the floor was actually David’s head slamming into the acute corner of a wooden box, as his body succumbed to both gravity and momentum when a piece of equipment suddenly failed. He crouched, face down, holding his head, stunned.
At this point, I wish I could say that I rushed over with the fervor of the other, more empathetic humans in the gym. But, I didn’t. After my set of squats, I sauntered over to check on him. He was surrounded by a half dozen friends when he saw the first drop of blood hit the floor. Then, it wouldn’t stop bleeding.
In my ever empathetic reaction, I recommended he put ice and pressure on it. Then, I went back to work.
Sure, we might need to get to the hospital, but surely it could wait until after my workout. In the middle of my next set of pushups, I glanced over and asked how he was doing. From all accounts, he was not doing well. By this point, he was pale and queasy, holding his head with blood stained fingers and a dirty gym towel.
I am not sure what eventually made me turn the corner, but my best guess is that it was the good amount of social pressure and unbelieving disdain from my peers that finally pushed me over the edge. My morning workout was to be left undone. We had to head to the Emergency Room.
This is a story that we can now laugh about.
At the time though, neither one of us were laughing. David was in complete disbelief that I could be so uncaring, thoughtless, and selfish. I was completely annoyed that I missed my opportunity to workout and was already behind schedule due to some minor bleeding.
Turned out that “minor” bleeding required 12 staples. Who knew?
That morning, the Volume of several of my Strengths were maxed out. I had arrived at the gym ready to get something done—start my day off with a big check mark—with the extra exhilaration of some friendly sportsmanship. My Achiever and Competition Volumes were turned up high, appropriately so. They drove me out of bed and into the dark morning air—to win.
When the scenario changed, however, at the crashing down of my husband’s body onto a misplaced box, I did not modify my Volumes. I allowed my Achiever and Competition to reign and did not make room for my Talents of Connectedness (all things happen for a reason) and Belief (I actually do CARE about David) to break through. As a result, I created a disaster in our relationship that day.
And I made myself look like a real jerk.
The very things that served as my greatest Strengths in one moment, were the root of a very foolish decision and mindset the next. I failed in that moment because I did not control the Volume of my Strengths.
Just as my kids’ choice of Alice in Wonderland on Spotify is hardly enjoyable at maximum volume, norhardly recognizable at minimum volume, so your Strengths have an ideal volume to get the most value from you.
Similarly, just as my ear buds need constant upping as I attempt to enjoy my favorite podcasts in the rush of the subway, I can hardly tolerate that same volume when I finally escape the noise into the low rumble of Plowshares coffee shop.
Such is true of your Strengths. They must operate at appropriate (and varying!) volumes according to the environment you find yourself in.
Loud Talents in a quiet environment become overbearing.
Quiet Talents in a noisy environment are lost.
Becoming a master Volume dialer of your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths is a task that allows maximum impact with minimum frustration (to you and those around you!).
Based on Steps 1-4, you know your strengths, what they mean to you, how they appear to others, and you even have a daily stretch to help aim them for success. So, now in Step 5, try out this activity to master your Volumes:
- Close your eyes and imagine setting your StrengthsFinder Top 5 CliftonStrengths in a row in front of you. Each one has a volume dial. When you think about how that Talent works (or doesn’t!) in your life, at what volume does it tend to operate?
- If you’re feeling burnout, excessive conflict, over-bearance, check your Strengths for volume Overdrive.
- If you’re feeling unheard, shame, distaste for your Strengths, check your Strengths for volume Underdrive.
- When you are feeling energized and collaborative, see your Strengths operating at Optimized volume.
Where you find Overdrive or Underdrive, you know it is time for an adjustment.
I walk you through a detailed description and activity of this conflict in Episode 31 of the Isogo TV video podcast. Watch the video and grab the free activity download to really zero in on your daily work and life activities and where they play out in your Strengths volume.
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One of the best places to join the conversation is over at our Facebook Group — Energy Up Frustration Down by Strengths. Join us for weekly chatting, complaining and commending, as we all try to figure out just how to use our Strengths to impact the most important things around us—in our work and life.
If you’re ready for expert insights about your StrengthsFinder Top 5 that go beyond your standard report, but maybe are not ready for a full-on coaching conversation, I’ll send you my maven insights and a real story on each of your Top 5 Strengths, straight to your inbox. Would love to help you make your Strengths “work” for you.
Until next time! Be Strong!