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Senior Correspondent

Exceptional people are advised to tone it down — you’re too organized, too compassionate, too visionary. “All you think about is getting things done. You need to tone it down.”

Never tell eagles to stop soaring.

Everyone loses when exceptional organizers are told to tone down their passion. It’s like tying the hands of a mime. Ignore people who suggest you tone down your gift.

The trouble with Mr. Get It Done is he’s pushy. The trouble with Mr. Compassion is he can’t allow people to be uncomfortable.

They don’t need to be less, they need to be more. Advising someone to be less of who they are is like putting rocks in their pockets. Instead, advise them to make their strength better. Not less of your strength — more of what enhances your strength.

My heart sinks when someone says they’ve been told they're too compassionate, too driven to get things done or too focused on the future. I hear this malarkey more than you might imagine.

Most will never be great at more than one thing, but you won’t be great at anything if you tone down your greatness.


Mr. Get It Done needs see how compassion gets things done. Guess what happens when you walk on people?

Mr. Compassion needs to see how getting things done is compassionate. It’s painful when things don’t get done.


Stop advising people to be less of who they are. Instead, work on adding behaviors that maximize their strengths and eliminating behaviors that hold them back. Gifted analyzers are usually poor decision-makers. Telling them to analyze less won’t make them better decision-makers. Try building a structure around their skill that includes deadlines and decision-making tools.

What corresponding weaknesses do you see with your strengths? What new behaviors might maximize your strengths? What behaviors are getting in the way of your strengths?

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