Skip to main content

Watch Out, Your Strength May Block Your Success!

July 21, 2023

We all have keys to success. These are time tested and reliable when we need to succeed. They also are our biggest blind spot. If they are so reliable, how could they be a problem? Here is a client who relied so heavily on her keys to success, she had to take medical leave.

A Good Employee

Nina was a good systems analyst at a demanding company working on an implementation team responsible for the regular updating of core systems. She was a key team member with a can-do, let’s-get-it-done attitude. She was smart, experienced, and willing to put in the extra effort to fill in the knowledge she needed.

One spring she took a medical leave as her doctor was worried about her health. Nina was fatigued, tense, and had raised blood pressure. She had been putting in long hours, deadlines were looming, and she felt like it was up to her to get the project done.

This experience scared her, and she was not going to return to the job. She wanted help to find a better fit, a better job.

The Job Is Seldom the Problem

As with all my clients, we start where they are with the goals they set. The people who have worked with me are certain it’s the job that is the problem, yet that is seldom the reality.

In our work together, Nina came to see her interest in synthesizing information, crafting processes to support the system alterations, and an ability to translate between systems and business allowed her to use her innate talents. She derived enjoyment and energy from being able to use these talents. So, she came to realize she liked and thrived doing the work of an analyst. It wasn’t the demands of the job that destroyed her health. It was how she worked, in subtle ways, that slowly robbed her of her vitality.

Her sense of value came from being busy, making sure everything worked, being the glue of the team. She also took on the emotional welfare of the team. As a result, she couldn’t ask for help or delegate because everyone was struggling to handle their tasks. She would work a little longer to make up the difference. She would not speak up or push back because she had believed competent workers didn’t do that. 

There were several of these beliefs that kept Nina from saying, “No.” She had positioned all of these beliefs as important rules for success. By helping her see and understand her unique situation, I was able to help her develop a customized plan for increasing her satisfaction at work she loved and at the same time, taking care of her health.

Nina’s rules and beliefs for success helped her achieve her level of success yet also led to her poor health. Once she realized this, we worked together to help her find the balance for how and when to apply these rules. She learned how to spot the signals and symptoms so as to change course immediately and avoid the once-toxic behavior.

Long-Term Positive Results

It has been two years now, and she continues to get promotions and maintain her health and joy. Nina demonstrated how our strengths can at times be our worst enemy.

If you can relate to any part of Nina’s story, let’s have a conversation. Maybe it’s time for you to uncover what is truly important to you and, if you determine it’s time for a change, you will be able to look for what you want instead of running away from what you don’t. We can work together to develop a customized plan for increasing your satisfaction and fulfillment at work.