I recently had a call with a new client. During the call, we discussed the blogs they wanted to create and the project’s general purpose.
The client had a vague idea of what they wanted, but my contact hadn’t determined the best way to approach it. I suggested some potential options, which prompted him to ask if I wanted to lead the project’s strategy and create a direction to present to the other company involved in the project.
I froze, just for a second. And in that second, I had the kind of frantic, micro-second argument that is only possible in your brain.
I really, really did not want to lead and develop the strategy. I’ve learned a lot throughout my career, enough to fill this role with a reasonable expectation of success. I could have done it. I should do it, part of me said. It’ll help you impress the client and maybe increase your chances of making this a long-term partnership. Doooooo it.
But a bigger part of me said no.
I flashed back to the episode with Lindsey Jo Scott, when she, Darryl, and Michelle talked about finding and focusing on your strengths. In the past year, different projects have helped me solidify my strengths. It’s been this podcast, though, that has helped me accept them.
I’m a writer and a damned good one.
I am, like Michelle, a great doer. Tell me what to do and I’ll get it done. I thrive behind the scenes, managing the tasks so someone else can handle the people and strategy.
Taking on a leadership role, however, leaves me uncertain and unable to make confident decisions. My brain just doesn’t work like that.
So I told the client that I’d prefer to handle the writing and leave the strategizing up to him. I’m happy to give suggestions and use my knowledge to support the project’s success, I said, but taking the lead is not where I can benefit the team best.
And you know what? He said okay. He didn’t even seem bothered or phased. We just finalized some more details and signed off, without it coming up again.
Even though I had built up the situation in my head, fully expecting to at least have to deal with some pushback, it was incredibly easy. Sure, there was some momentary discomfort and I had to take a few minutes to work through the lingering adrenaline, but it was well worth the stress I avoided later on.
As I’ve learned to accept (and champion!) my strengths, I’ve also been able to see my weaknesses in a new light.
On this week’s episode, Darryl shared a similar journey. He had, coincidentally enough, also been thinking recently about the conversation with Lindsey Jo Scott. The experience had helped him see how much he had struggled to accept his weaknesses. Despite the many ways he excelled, the things he didn’t like to do or wasn’t good at doing left him feeling inadequate.
It wasn’t until Michelle shared her strengths and the ways she enjoys coming alongside Darryl in their work that he could let go of the negativity he placed on his own weaknesses. Now, he can lean into his strengths and the incredible things he can do through them, without wasting energy on the things he struggles with.
When we dwell on our inadequacies, it’s easy to tear ourselves down. We put so much emphasis on all the things we’re not doing that we can’t spare any appreciation for the ways we excel. Putting so much energy into trying to “fix” these things means our strengths suffer. No matter how hard we try, this is a battle we’re never going to win.
Thankfully, we have people like Lindsey, Michelle, and Darryl to remind us to love every part of ourselves, even the ones we don’t like very much. Whether it’s telling a client no or simply stopping shoulding (and shitting, let’s be honest) on ourselves in its tracks, we can be more wholehearted in our work and personal lives.
Or, like Michelle, we can take the life-changing opportunities that come our way, confident that they are the right decisions. We can find where we fit, perfectly, without forcing ourselves to be something we’re not.
Get the full story here to hear more about finding your perfect place, the benefits of leaning into your strengths, and what else Michelle and Darryl have learned from each other through the podcast.