Everything Can Be Taken Too Far

September 1, 2020

Moderation has never been a strength of mine… or a preference… or a way I lived or worked. All my life, I have been the ‘go big or go home’ kind of person. It’s a part of who I am.

When I find a new hobby, I buy every single supply and tool to start.
When I start a new project or explore a new topic for work, I read every book that was ever written about the subject, and search the web to download every article, video, and critical review. My “To Read” folder in Outlook is in the 10,000+ message range.
When I play any competitive game, with cards, on a game board, or on the field… well, let’s just say real competition might bring out the worst in me! (My kids have some bad Mommy stories to prove it.)

When a friend or family member needs something, anything, I am willing to drop absolutely anything to help. (And, before you read that as me seeking a pat on the back – I often take this too far!)

My ‘go big or go home’ mindset and the resulting way of living, working, playing has often served me well. It has also been my downfall – taking my ‘go big or go home’ too far has resulted in wasted time and money, a lot of started projects that never get finished, and a lot of relationships with sore spots.

It’s what happens when you take a strength too far. Even the good things in life can be taken too far.

Here are a few examples I see often in the work world.

You can be a leader who is known for getting a lot of work done well and quickly. But if on your way, you bulldoze people to get those things accomplished… you’ve exercised a strength, but taken it too far.

You can be a leader who is known for being very good to your people. Everyone likes working for you; you are fair, you offer consistent recognition and rewards. But, if that is all at the expense of tough, honest feedback and timelines are missed… you’ve exercised a strength, but taken it too far.

Or, you might be a gifted idea generator, bold brainstormer, and a rigorous debater. Every conversation in which you participate leads to incredibly innovative and exciting paths forward. But, if you have consumed all the air time and not allowed others to feel a part of the process, you have exercised a strength, but taken it too far.

There is a pattern here and it is one that is very valuable to recognize.

The next time you get constructive feedback, or you notice a pattern of your own behavior that is not serving you well, try to identify the thing that you do really well that you might be taking too far.

We often look for the weakness we need to fix or the gap we need to fill. There is a time and a place for that approach. But, I find more often when there is a pattern of problems, its root cause lives in a strength that we can make work for us if we know the boundaries.

How far can we take it to see the benefit and what is the tipping point that takes it to the ‘dark side’?