“Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength.”
~Henry Ward Beecher
The other day a client and I were talking through her Leadership Circle Profile™ 360° feedback assessment. We were discussing her “Reactive Tendencies” – those “fight, flight, or freeze” behaviors we often overuse when we feel as if we’re in real (or imagined) danger.
“The challenge – or opportunity – with the Reactive Tendencies,” I explained to her, “is to learn how to be in choice about them. To learn when we need to be Driven, but to not always be Driven. To learn when we need to Comply, but to not always Comply. To learn when we need to be strong – and to be intentional in using our strength wisely.”
This often baffles my clients, but it also offers them a new, exciting way to view themselves. The Reactive Tendencies – the Complying, Protecting, and Controlling behaviors such as Passive, Critical, and Perfect – are behaviors that all of us have adopted (some more than others), and we often slip into them unknowingly. Over and over again.
Exhibiting strength is like that. Many of us are conditioned to believe that we need to be strong and to be able to withstand everything and anything. Especially as leaders, we think strength is required and expected. Strength is a leadership competency…but only when it is used wisely and well.
It is greatness only when we are strong when strong is what is required. It is greatness only when we are strong in ways that help and support the business, organization, team, and individuals, not in ways that cut others down. It is greatness when we are intentional about using our strengths – and about using all of our behaviors, even the “flight, fight, or freeze” behaviors we somehow think we might be better without.
This is greatness – when we learn about ourselves and can more intentionally and Thoughtfully show up as our best selves. As Henry Ward Beecher described, it’s not strength for strength’s sake that makes us great but rather the ability to flex and adapt our strength to achieve the best results.
How have you learned to be strong…and not strong?
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