Can Your Strengths Hold You Back?

Never in my 20+ years of coaching have I ever forgotten a client’s name. But there it was a name on my schedule that I didn’t recognize.  I searched all the names of my clients past and present with no success.  It really bugged me.  Who was this person?  

To make matters worse I had scheduled a series of appointment with this person.  I rarely do that so I couldn’t imagine why I didn’t remember doing it. I told a friend, “I guess I will just wait until Tuesday, the 24th to see who shows up.”

Coaching Client Clue

I was still feeling unsettled when I left for the airport to fly to my grandson’s graduation the weekend before the appointment.  While I was in the airport, I got a clue from my email. A message arrived from my local hospital’s patient portal saying I had an appointment at exactly the same time and day as the “unknown client”.  

Now I went through all my doctors and couldn’t remember any appointment that I had.  The portal message didn’t tell me who the appointment was with, and I couldn’t remember the password for the portal to check.

My inner critic had a field day!  It told me that this was evidence of my getting older, a senior moment, maybe dementia.

Sitting in a restaurant with my grandson, my daughter, her former husband and his family, I started chatting with my daughter’s former mother-in-law.  We hadn’t seen each other since before Covid so there was a lot to talk about. At one point during the conversation, she mentioned she was having physical therapy.

A Light Bulb Moment

Immediately a light bulb went off in my head.  That’s it!  I had made a series of appointments with a new physical therapist in a group practice.  I wrote the name of the physical therapist on my calendar but since I had never met him, I didn’t remember the name when I saw it on my calendar.  Mystery solved.

Have you ever had a seemingly unsolvable problem like this and then suddenly the solution comes to you when you aren’t working on it?  Sometimes when you “sleep on it” the answer comes to you.  My father once told me he woke up in the middle of the night with a solution to a problem he had been working on for weeks.  He wrote it down so he wouldn’t forget it in the morning.

Strengths Don’t Always Work For You

I had spent hours stressing about not remembering who this person was.  One of my strengths is persistence but sometimes I stay too long on an issue.  It is good to take a break.  Taking one is not that easy for me.  The graduation made it a necessity in this case.

The lesson for me here is that while persistence can be a useful strength, there are times when you just have to stop and rest for a while.  Sometimes the rest gives you new perspective and sometimes while you are involved in a new activity the solution to the old problem comes to you.  The key is to leave the problem behind and do something unrelated.  Lesson learned?  Time will tell.

To read more about strengths and how to identify them go to this page on my blog.


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