Tuning Our Strengths



My 16 year old son John is becoming quite an accomplished piano player. I love to hear him play, but I confess that I haven’t always felt this way.

When he was first learning it sounded more like noise than music. In the beginning, he found a song that we all enjoyed. We encouraged him, and he got better and better at that one song. He continued playing it over and over again. He never got tired of playing it, but we got tired of hearing it. He played it fast and slow, and loud and soft. He played it in the morning and at night. It seemed like it rang through our home every waking moment.

Eventually, this song that once sounded so beautiful to us became so annoying that we finally had to tell him to never play it again. We just couldn’t take it anymore. He was obsessed with the song. Despite our vocal objections, he continued to play it. He just couldn’t help it.

Learning To Use Our Strengths

That fact that he became good at playing that song did not make it any more tolerable for the rest of us in the house. He overdid it.


Successful leaders must guard against becoming one-dimensional


Most of us understand how our weaknesses make us vulnerable, but we may overlook the thought that our strengths may also make us vulnerable.

This raises a very interesting question. Can a strength become a weakness?

Some find this question to be very challenging. The abundance of evidence supporting a strength-based approach to leading and living makes it difficult for many to even consider the thought that a signature strength can be overdone; but it can.


We may overlook the thought that our strengths may also make us vulnerable


John solved his problem on the piano by learning many songs. He didn’t spend time playing songs he didn’t like; he simply focused his passion to play the songs and style he favored. Now we are treated with wonderful music in our home.

In much the same way, successful leaders must guard against becoming one-dimensional. Each must be responsible for developing many strengths. Learning how and when to use them appropriately is what separates the very good from the very best.

This is a great time of year to take inventory of your individual strengths and how you are using them.

Are you overdoing any of your signature strengths? Are you under-using any of your signature strengths?

Don’t just answer these questions; check-in with those around you. Leveraging their perspectives may help you change your tune before it is too late.


Image by  Paul Wesley

Dr. Andrew Thorn is the founder of Telios Corporation and creator of The Telios Experience™. He holds a PhD in Consulting Psychology, a Masters in Personal and Executive Coaching, and a Masters in Business Administration from Pepperdine University. Dr. Thorn is also the author of U-wun-ge-lay-ma: A Guide to Next-level Living and the upcoming book Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Whole? The Future of Meaning and Purpose. He lives in Apple Valley, California with his wife Stacy and seven children.

  • It would have been nice if you gave us an example of an overplayed strength aside from a music student playing the same thing over and over again. Now I have to guess what you mean.

    PS:. These days they have small portable electronic pianos that have headphones so no one can hear them but the player. I’m sure there’s a metaphor for life in that arrangement too.


  • Loved this blog. It is true that to be an exceptional leader, you must continue to leverage your strengths and have a small ego, realizing that you will realize even greater team results when you hire folks who can fill in your gaps, while still sharing the same core values and passion for work and life. Together, we become stronger.

    Further, as leaders we must value the differences in others and applaud their strengths, seeking every opportunity to catch people being amazing, whether they are a peer, someone who reports to you, or someone you report to, as everyone benefits in hearing what is going well.

    Last, it is proven that when you focus your career roles that play to your strengths, you will get greater energy, achieve phenomenal outcomes, and be recognized as a leader in your field.

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