Strengths In Action: #1 Maximizer, Part 2

In the previous blog post I introduced my #1 and favorite strength, Maximizer. Many of you reached out privately about it so I wanted to go a bit deeper. Here’s more about Maximizer in action, as well as my Maximizer as a trouble maker or blind spot. 

Think of your strengths as a radio volume dial. There is a setting which is natural to you and feels appropriate to others. If your favorite song came on the radio but it was playing too softly, then you’d ask for it to be turned up. And, if that same song came out blaring then you’d beg for it to be turned down. It is still your favorite song, but the volume needs to be right for it to be enjoyable. So too with strengths. 

At the “sounds really good” volume setting, my Maximizer showed up this week when preparing to work with a new client. This team wanted some strengths training, but my Spidey senses picked up that there was more to it. Sure enough, when I asked some probing questions the manager admitted that she was overwhelmed with negativity on the team and had no idea how to make it better. Everything she had tried only made things worse. If I had just shown up and delivered a standard strengths training session then that wouldn’t have addressed the real problem and frankly would have been a waste of time and money. Instead, I had several prep calls with her to uncover the root of the problems. I worked with her to craft a series of actions that would help the team discuss the situations in a safe space, using strengths as the common language. I ended up being on site for 2 days and we worked through some really deep hurts. It was one of the toughest groups that I’ve facilitated, but in the end everyone agreed that it was badly needed and was a baby step toward healing. 

Let’s look at another situation, this time where my Maximizer was showing up at an eardrum bursting level. Years ago, I was working in a Fortune 100 tech company that was intense, to put it mildly. I rarely had time to stop for lunch but that particular day I just needed to take a break. I grabbed a friend and we headed to a Wendy’s right by the office. Normally fast food is, well, fast. But that particular day the line inside snaked around the dining area. It didn’t seem to be moving at all. I started grumbling (#hangry). I looked at the counter and it was pure chaos. The employees didn’t seem to know what to do, roles weren’t clear, there wasn’t an apparent leader in charge, and it was getting worse by the minute. In my head, and apparently out loud to my friend, I was diagnosing the problem and coming up with a much better way to handle things. I had completely re-engineered the entire process and was wondering why on earth I wasn’t in charge because I could solve it in about 2 minutes. My friend turned toward me and asked, “Why are you getting so worked up about this?” I replied, “This is a complete waste of time. Any reasonable person can see that they have no idea how to properly run a restaurant (said by the person with zero restaurant running experience).” She then said the most profound thing to me, “Ty, you’re being ridiculous and need to calm down. We’re at Wendy’s for goodness sake, not NASA. You really need to reset your expectations.” Wow. Truth bomb. She was exactly right.

Another trouble maker Maximizer quality for me is always tweaking and trying to make things better, with a huge side of perfectionism thrown in. It can produce amazing results, but just as often can be a waste of time when “good” would have been “just fine”. A few months ago, I was walking through the Omaha airport. I came across this sign that said “World’s Closest Bookstore”. It struck me as so funny, and was a huge light bulb moment for me. Sometimes close is good enough.


Take some time to understand your strengths and what volume level sounds really good versus “my ears are bleeding”. Some profound insight can be found in the “Watch Out for Your Blind Spots” section from the Gallup Clifton Strengths Full 34 report. 

Here’s an example from my report on Maximizer:

  • Your desire to exhaust all possible outcomes can frustrate those who want to come to a suitable conclusion and move forward. Sometimes, you will need to accept that “good enough” is adequate and appropriate.

  • You might be disappointed when a project or initiative falls short of your definition of excellence. Try not to get discouraged when you have to work on or sign off on something that is acceptable, but not ideal, in your eyes.

In summary, I want you to think:

  1. What is a dominant talent theme for you?

  2. Can you think of how that theme showed up recently for you?

  3. Has that theme ever caused trouble for you?  

  4. What can you do to recognize a volume problem and get things back in tune?

Coming up next month, #2 in my Top 10 strength series: Significance. One of the most polarizing themes.  Until then, use your strengths every day to have a strong life. 😊