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  • Writer's pictureSarah Carter

Over Using Strengths = Time Debt

"What makes you great also makes you vulnerable" pg. 141. Go ahead and reread that one a couple of times to let it really sink in, I certainly had to.

In all of the worlds my experience comes from - sports, academia, the military, coaching - strengths are a central conversation. Your strengths are what set you apart and, more often than not, ahead of others. But what does Valorie Burton mean when she says they make you vulnerable, especially when it comes to time management? I was not sure I was on board with this concept at first until I listened to her podcast, and read the antic dote in It's About Time, where she described a "quick trip to Ikea." Spoiler alert: No such thing exists! This event led Valorie to explore the real, root cause of her 1.5 hour "quick trip to Ikea." She discovered, with a little help from a friend, that her core strength of optimism is what derailed her schedule that day and many other days.

Her reflection and research lead her to create a list of six "Core Vulnerabilities - a response to stress in which we over use our strengths, creating blind spots that keep us from making wise decisions" pg. 141 especially when deciding how to spend our time. These vulnerabilities all stem from characteristic strengths that are taken to extreme in stress driven situations. They are:

*Tidsoptimism (time optimism)




*Approval addiction

*Misplaced guilt

You probably claim ownership of at least one of the associated core strengths represented on that list, if not more. Think about a time where your piles of responsibilities kept you from scheduling a lunch date with a good friend who was passing through town. Or maybe a time where your perfectionism, or drive to achieve your goals, drove you to inadvertently take an opportunity from someone else. Ouch. There you were thinking you were making solid decisions but maybe you were really succumbing to stress pressures of false urgencies and not choosing the meaningful, timeless action. Your road to awesomeness does not end here! Valorie also provides suggestions from her coaching toolbox that you may want to add to your self-coaching tool collection.

I took the quiz in Chapter Nine and I lean towards tidsoptimism, perfectionism, and approval addiction. (That probably comes as no surprise to some readers in the group.) The tools Valorie suggests for these three tendencies are liberating.

*Tidsoptimists "talk to a more pessimistic peer who may be able to see the negatives that are hard for you to see" pg. 161. When I was beginning to consider separating from the Navy, I did this often! I saw the grass on the outside as emerald green but I needed to hear balanced feedback to be sure.

*Perfectionists "give yourself permission to be imperfect. Decide whats 'good enough' is before you get started...[it] can be a high standard, but don't make it an impossible standard" pg. 161. This is a big one for those who struggle to delegate and then wonder where all of their time goes. Set a standard, a limit for what you will accept, then delegate and stand by your standard. This gives others an opportunity and gives you back some time for the meaningful.

*Approval Addicts "get comfortable with being uncomfortable" pg. 162. You cannot please everyone all of the time no matter how hard you try. You cannot be in two, or twelve, places at once. Valorie began It's About Time with a sobering story of a woman who thought she could do just that, got to the hospital late from an "urgent" meeting, and did not get to say "I love you" to her father before his unsuccessful surgery and his subsequent passing on the operating table. "You're time is most valuable in those roles in your life that are irreplaceable" pg. 205.

Valorie concludes this field guide to choosing the meaningful moments over the seemingly urgent ones by describing some of her time experiments, asking you to thoughtfully complete a few exercises, and describing how to manage time like you manage your money (or at least how you should if you want to retire and buy a yacht/plane/land-off-the-grid). As with any habit, altering the way you view and manage your time takes time to cement into your routine. "The challenge with change is that we often commit to ceasing a specific behavior without first identifying what that behavior will be replaced with" pg. 181. Lucky for you that you found this book! She has filled it with replacement suggestions for you to try. Which will you choose?

What changes do you need to make in your time routine to choose the meaningful over the urgent? What core vulnerability do you lean towards? How much in time debt did you discover you are in after doing the time sheet in chapter 12? I would love to hear from you! Please comment below, email me, or connect with me over social media. Think you could use some coaching in this area of your life? Schedule a FREE "Is Coaching for Me?" session HERE.

Our next book, Permission to Screw Up, will start on July 19th after a little craft break so be sure grab a copy of the book (by clicking the title above) then come on back and join the conversation.

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