Where Are Your Strengths Holding You Back? (Part 1)

Several years ago, I followed the common business advice of the day to “pursue your passion”.  And I did.  I left a well-paying job in corporate America to start a business doing something I was truly passionate about and very good at doing.  That’s the American dream, right?  Find something you’re truly passionate about, pursue it obsessively, and become wildly successful and wealthy, right?

All you have to do is work harder and longer than anyone else.  Be smarter and stronger than everyone.  Sacrifice everything to achieve your dream.  And that is what I did.  And I promptly started working longer and harder producing more mediocre results that lead nowhere than I had ever produced before.  It was a horrible experience.

Where did I go wrong?

This is a painfully true story I often share with audiences during my keynote events.  And it illustrates one of my key Mushin Way principles:  Being strong can make you quite weak.  I’ve also seen this principle in action time and again in learning and teaching the Japanese martial art of Aikido.

For example, a big, strong person can power through a martial arts technique that a smaller, weaker person has no choice but to learn to execute perfectly.  With enough practice, a smaller person can consistently make his technique work on anyone at any time and under any circumstance.  Whereas a big, strong person has a difficult or even impossible time performing the technique on someone bigger and stronger because all they understand is brute force.

And just like my original story above, a strong person can power through all the work required to set up and run a new business, take on a big promotion, or launch a new product.  Yet for me, my strength became a weakness when I insisted on doing everything myself, when I let my fear and ego tell me that no one else could do the work as well as I could.

I wasn’t good at delegating.  I didn’t play well with others.  I was afraid to “let go”.  I cut myself off from the world, built a wall of to-do lists, and tried to use brute-force to get through all the tasks necessary to run a new business.

My biggest strength — my indomitable work ethic — had become a huge, crippling weakness.

And once I started applying the elegant principles of Aikido to my business life, the difference was almost instantaneous.  I became better at hiring and training staff, I learned to delegate efficiently, I learned to let go to achieve more.  I tried to not let my ego get in the way of my success.  And it worked!

So I would like you to think for a moment:  Where in your life is your strength holding you back?  Preventing you from really succeeding; actually cause you more harm than good?  Let me know by leaving a comment below or by posting to my Facebook page — look forward to hearing from you soon.