I have my fair share of flaws and all of you reading this do to. The greatest professional gift that I was ever given was from my previous job where I was under the microscope each and every day and was “reviewed” by my peers and direct managers multiple times a month. It gave me a distinct understanding of my own shortcomings, helped me improve, and ultimately gave me a thick skin. Most of my biggest issues flow directly from a condition known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) that I’ve had since I was a young child. As I’ve learned about myself, I’ve also learned to control many of the negative effects and have come to view my condition as an enabler of my success and not a disabler as most people do. If you follow a strategy that plays to your strengths and pair with people that have the exact opposite strengths it produces a powerful combination. Let me explain.
Since I was a young child I was the kid with too much energy and too little patience and focus. Unlike many of you, my thoughts are not linear. My mind jumps extremely quickly from one thing to another which makes doing things that require attention to detail very difficult. The jumping is not illogical, its just takes a different path than most people think along. For instance, if we are talking about a business concept I’ll likely be thinking about your company and a few others that have related underlying concepts. Clearly I miss some of the details and thats a distinct weakness. On the flip side, it makes me really good at brainstorming, comparative analysis and creative problem solving. I don’t need a lot of explanation to get the point, in fact I usually get it far before its made and so I’ll sometimes be an interrupter. Waiting around for a point I already understand doesn’t work for me. Is that presumptuous to assume I understand what people are talking about? Probably, but after 27 years of experience I’d say I usually have the point correctly.
The hyperactivity part of the disorder gives me a distinct preference for trying things versus thinking them through. I do things twice as fast as most people but also screw up twice as often. At the end of the day its usually the exact same outcome and time as someone using a more step-by-step approach. Most people say that my approach is wrong, that I should correct it. My old managers always brought up mistakes I made with details. What I’ve found is that when I pair my impulsive doing tendencies with someone like Chad who is a deliberate thinker we tend to get things done super quickly and without major mistakes. A great example of this is when Chad and I put together a ceiling fan. He immediately started reading the directions while I had already started putting in the screws. As I made mistakes he would point them out and we’d move on. It worked pretty damn well, and that fan went up super quickly. So is this flaw a disabler? I’d argue no if you understand it and correct by pairing with someone who is a thinker.
Its obvious that in many environments my flaws would be crippling and probably inhibit professional and personal advancement. In my previous job, I was acutely hiding certain character traits and not acting myself in order to advance. One of the unspoken reasons of moving to Boulder and getting into the startup world was my belief that this environment and profession plays to (and values) my specific strengths. At the end of the day, everyone has different issues to to contend with and how we choose to face them and leverage them has a direct impact on our happiness and success. Do any of you have “flaws” you consider to be enablers in some sense?