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Beware of the Dark Side

Thank you for reading this week’s Operation Melt update.

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives.

I am trying to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Amuse Bouche

An amuse bouche is a complementary, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre provided by a chef to very literally entertain your mouth before the main course. I will now be serving you an amuse bouche each week prior to the main course of my blog, a light “dad joke” to entertain your mind before we get down to business. I feel like this is only fair given my status as a dad joke connoisseur. Like any other amuse bouche, you may hate it, but it is worth every penny that you paid for it.

Did you know that there is a species of antelope that can jump higher than the average house? This is made possible by the antelope’s powerful hind legs and the fact that the average house cannot jump.

Goal Success by Choice

We can choose to be successful with our goals if we make the right daily choices, build the right habits and behaviors and adopt the right mindsets. Goal Success by Choice shares lessons about the choices we can make that can either move us closer to our goals or hold us back. I hope this post helps you get a little closer to crushing your goals.

Your Strengths

Do you know your top strengths?

I’m not talking about the things you are good at per se, I am talking about the unique combination of attributes that make you unique.

There are many different assessments available to help you learn what your top strengths are. They usually ask you a series of situational, preferential or other questions and then translate your beliefs into some list of standard strengths. I have completed many of these assessments over the years, but I think the Gallup StrengthsFinder tool is one of the best and most accurate.

According to StrengthsFinder, my top 5 strengths (or my signature strengths) are:

  1. Competition: measure progress against the performance of others and strive to win first place and revel in contests.
  2. Positivity: have contagious enthusiasm, upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
  3. Communication: generally find it easy to put thoughts into words, good conversationalists and presenters.
  4. Adaptability: prefer to go with the flow and “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.
  5. Relator: enjoy close relationships with others and find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

My signature strengths have evolved over time but, when they are combined with my next five strengths, I think they are a pretty accurate description of how I am wired.

  • Activator: make things happen by turning thoughts into action
  • Intellection: introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions
  • Restorative: good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it
  • Woo: derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with someone
  • Achiever: take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive

It is important to learn your strengths as they are tools that you can use to help achieve success. These strengths appear a little differently for each person. Not only is your particular combination of strengths important, but what they look like for you is also unique.

I could go on and on about strengths and how mastering them will help you with your choice to be successful with your goals. But there is a specific aspect of strengths that I want to talk about for a minute. The dark side.

Beware of the Dark Side

If you have ever watched Star Wars, you are familiar with the concept of the force.

The force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

As powerful and important as the force is, there is a sinister, dark side of the force. The dark side of the force is used to achieve evil.

Again, I could go on and on about Star Wars, but that isn’t what today’s post is about. Let’s overlap these concepts.

The force is a powerful tool for achieving big goals, just like your strengths. Also like your strengths, the force surrounds and connects everybody, we all have it inside us and learning to master it makes dreams come true.

But, also like the force, there is a darker side of your strengths. If left unchecked or unmanaged, you can overuse your strengths with negative consequences. I will share a personal example.

The Dark Side of Competition

My high competition means that I am motivated by measurable performance and comparing my results to those of others. I have talked many times about my excessive focus on numbers which is driven by my competition. In the past month, this became a problem.

I joined a two-month walk/run mileage challenge with different levels of rewards based on different mileage thresholds. Each day I log my total miles run and walked and then I see a leader board ranking me against others. This motivated me to continue to push myself and strive to be in the top five or ten people in the challenge.

On the surface this seems positive, right? But I took it a bit too far. I logged over 230 miles in the first month of the competition. I took no rest days and pushed myself daily. I started experiencing some negative physical side effects and forced myself to take a full rest day to recover a bit.

This and countless other stories I have are examples of how I let the dark side of one of my strengths win.

How to Defeat the Dark Side

Defeating the dark side requires two things: study and choices.

I mentioned earlier that it is important to get to know your strengths. Strengths can be a major advantage for you and can help you reach your goals. I sincerely believe this and have seen it work many times in teams I have led, people I have coached and in myself.

The other reason it is important to get to know your strengths is so you can know what the dark side of each of your strengths looks like. The more you know what your strengths are and how they present themselves for you, the more you can be on the lookout for the dark side.

The most important tool in your battle against the dark side is to turn off the autopilot.

Trusting your life to autopilot instead of being deliberate with your choices gives the dark side an opening. On the other hand, if you have a plan to reach your goals and you make deliberate choices, even when they aren’t fun, you gain the upper hand.

Turning off the autopilot starts with asking yourself why? Why are you reacting the way you are reacting? Why are you feeling what you are feeling? By taking time to process what’s happening around you and inside you instead of just coasting, you will gain the perspective needed to keep the dark side at bay.

Spending just fifteen minutes per day writing in a journal and exploring your thoughts is a great start to shutting down the autopilot. Then you can use your strengths instead of them using you. Give it a try and let me know how it works.

May the strengths be with you!

Suggested Resources

Here are some other resources related to today’s post that you might want to read:

Did You Like What You Read?

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Published inGoal Success by Choice

Disclaimer: The Operation Melt website and blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding and entertainment only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. As health and nutrition research continuously evolves, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information presented on this website.

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