Most People are Almost Fits at Best

almost fit heads.jpg

Business problems are largely people problems. And, in the same vein, business is people.

Yes, you can automate. That’s easier than dealing with people. Machines, software and automation follows rules, logic and functionality.

But people don’t fit what the job usually requires. They are almost fits at best. They don’t come in the specific shape, size, function and consistency your jobs require.

This is why it is critical to gauge a person’s preferences and strengths. At least you will start with an understanding of the likely behaviors and bents that you can come to expect to see.

If your business has critical roles to fill and a lot of risk for non-performance, then evaluating a person’s inclinations is a small investment. It’s costly to discover the nature in a person further down the road and realize the almost fit you were hoping for is not even a fit at all.

I am not sure people change much. Most people are characteristic. When you talk about your friends, you don’t see them becoming a 180 of themselves. They behave consistently. So it is with the talent you recruit and manage. There’s a latitude to their growth and change, but not something dramatic altogether.

When it comes to getting work done – sales made, projects out the door, ideas that stick, etc. – you can lose a lot of money and time if your team members don’t fit what’s required.

It’s painful. And it’s real. I’ve heard the story repeatedly from business owners.

Expect most people are almost fits at best. But test to see how misaligned they are for the requirements you objectively have for your business. Hope is a poor strategy. A little foresight, process and quantitative evaluation can go a long way towards seeing if you have a close enough fit vs. someone far off the mark.

Can you be a better hirer of talent?

You’re Not Good At It


Here’s the paradox of a blind spot – you can’t see it. It’s a blind spot.

What if you can’t see that you are simply not good at something? You have put in enormous effort and time, but you are still blind.

Perhaps you can notice when someone else does the very same things you pursue with much less effort. They are good at it. You are not.

It doesn’t mean you are less of a person. You are simply working in your weaknesses. It’s a waste of time.

The goal of business is not to be right. It’s to get results. And if you are struggling to get results because you insist on being good at something you are not, then you are headed for frustration, wasted time and much opportunity cost.

It’s hard to swallow that you are not good at something when you want to think of yourself as good at it. Your ego becomes your enemy for it keeps you from being honest and focused on results.

That American ethos, “You can become anything you want if you work hard at it,” is a lie. You can work hard at something and the best you can become is mediocre.

Unfortunately, in a division of labor economy, mediocrity does not get rewarded, especially when there are plenty of more talented people doing the same things you pursue.

Some things really come easy for me. Speaking, writing, setting goals, creating clarity. These are easy for me. I don’t have to work that hard at it. I have put in plenty of time, but I always found that I got results and I don’t struggle through these things.

Many other things take a lot more stress and work with less results. There’s people I know that are rock stars at these things. There’s better managers, counselors, visual artists, and tacticians. I would much rather partner with them on projects than try to become them. What’s the point if I really care about results?

Are you working on projects that you find are not getting anywhere? We have a society where 70% of employees admit they are not happy in their job. They are simply showing up. Anyone simply tell them they are not good at it? Imagine the liberation that most workers would experience if they were simply honest with themselves.

Then you could take more notice of the things that you are good at naturally. Go there instead. You get better results with less effort. You can start building on something instead of simply trying to make money or satisfy your ego.

I’m not saying that hard work does not have its place. However, if you have been working hard at something and always struggling and not getting results, can you get honest?

What if you admitted to yourself, “I’m not good at this.”

You can stop the madness and start solving the problem by getting out of the way and focusing on results as the main goal. It’s ok not be good at something. And it’s ok to admit it.

A Supportive Designer

supportive designer


I recently consulted with a Graphic Designer about her strengths as she was seeking to maximize her business. We spent an our on the phone going over her scores. This is the summary report of her style and strengths:
The key to success is to find opportunities where your line is a natural fit. Moving outside that line becomes a lot of effort and adaptive behavior. Life becomes harder.
Your natural bent is as follows:
Your 56 Cognitive score is a planner score. You listen to ideas and turn them into plans and procedures. You use discussion to get clarity around an idea. Amber, who is a high cognitive, has ideas that you translate into something more practical. Chad, who is a Strategist, debates ideas and pushes on multiple options to commit to work works now.
You are the planner who hears their ideas and clarifies with planning.
Your 81 Relational score is your highest score and what you manage from. You feel other people and provide empathy. You use empathy to provide comfort and understanding. You can understand the irrational parts of other people.
This is the score you lead from. You choose the people over the ideas, the goal or the details. It allows you to be influential as well as insightful on what people want. It can also be difficult to assess relationships, much less break them, if reality warrants such an action because you are emotionally attached to people.
Your 29 Goal Score allows you to be highly responsive. You seek to work through a process along with your Cognitive style. The goal is internal to you. You defer to higher goal score people and drive according what you believe is a process that supports the overall goal.
For you, working on a team, where others make the call is much more comfortable for you.
Your 13 Detail Score is a score around focus. You enjoy work that emphasizes personal craftsmanship. You prefer this much more than routine work. You want to hand off and you find resources to get to your goals.
It’s hard to work in a mundane, repetitive environment. You value freedom and variety. Your blind spot is that you can move with speed and it may affect quality or details that can go overlooked.
But you use feedback emotionally from others and iteration in your work to get to a goal. You don’t mind continuous revisions to get to what others are thinking.
Overall, you like working on a team where others come up with the concepts and goals and that you get along with the people.
Our scripts play out and our interactions are affected by how close or distant we are in our scores.

A Manager and a Tactician


We have spent many hours consulting with different couples and business partners around their strengths. We help them understand who they are individually and how their styles interact with each other.

In our time together with this couple, we walked through the various scores for both, interplays and how they compare and contrast.

Here are some summary points:


This is how they deal with ideas. Both are low cognitive, thus, are concrete and deal in practicality. They are thinking about the here and now and things that they can see and touch.

The husband (“Green”) is a Planner and uses discussion to get clarity around ideas. The wife (“Blue”) is a Refiner and uses repetitive doing to gain clarity for herself. She takes existing things that work and moves them from 90% to 99%. She is about refinement.

Green translates strategies into systems, planning and policies. Thus, his strength is around scaling a business and locking in the planning for committed strategies that a team has already decided on.

Blue sees the imperfections in systems, ideas, systems and procedures. It helps her to refine what exists, but it can also be difficult to participate in a brainstorming or vision setting conversation where ideas are ambiguous and open-ended.

In their relationship, they work in practicalities. They may be missing some of the big picture dialogue and thinking that an outsider can introduce.


Their relational scores are different. This measures how they deal with emotion. For Green, he is a feeler and empathizer at 70. He feels other people before he feels himself and carries the emotion of others and a situation. It’s internal to him.

Blue is 27 on the relational scale. Emotion is outside of her, and she feels herself before she feels other people. She is a verbalizer. She welcomes people getting out their emotions and articulating what they are feeling. She sees it as cathartic.

Green gives empathy as a way of comforting others. This allows him to connect by helping the other person understand where they are coming from.

Blue has open networks of relationships and has a strong pull towards reciprocity. If someone does something nice for her, she reciprocates.

This is a score where they are both different and can help each other. Green is about winning other people and he does this with warmth and empathy. Blue is able to see situations without emotions. Green gets to his thinking through his feeling. Blue does as well, but she is able to isolate emotion, especially in tense situations.

They both see the world differently when it comes to emotion.


Green is a 51 Goal. This means the goal is external to him. He manages towards balance and the win for him is having his multiple goals in balance and in progress. This is where he feels at peace as a Regulator.

Blue is a 27 Goal score and is Responsive. She takes direct action and has a strong action-orientation. Combined with your concrete score, she is a doer. She moves to action quickly.

Blue likes being a part of a team and defers to the team’s authoritative setup. She responds to urgency and understands what needs to happen immediately.

Green maximizes the team’s resources and productivity. He takes the goals set by higher goal people and creates progress and balance around those priorities. He understands tradeoffs and keeps forward progress as a focal point in his achievement.

As a couple, Green will tend to want to make the call and Blue will want to support you with the effort. Their blind spots are that they do not necessarily know what is the most important thing at a given time as a very high goal person would. Thus, in their relationship, they tend to be steady and tactical.


They are both different in how much routine and freedom they each crave. They are both Managers around details. They will manage those they hand off to and have a balance between routine and personal freedom.

Blue is a mid detail score at 61. Her first instinct is to do the work herself. If she does hand off, she will check back and keep the person accountable and moving towards a goal.

Blue prefers routine work and with her concrete score, doing the tried and true is more amenable.

Green has a 43 Detail score and is also managerial. He wants to hand off. But he wants to do one more thing. He cares about the quality. He will organize for many others and maintain order personally for himself.

Their differences here are around order and freedom. Blue will tend to want to keep more order and Green will want to have more freedom. They can help each other by understanding each other’s preferences in this area and what gives them both happiness.

Both of them may not seek resources or be attuned to detail. These are more extreme scores and these people would help bring more to the table in terms of execution and finding resources.

They are both different in all areas and experience reality differently. They can use the differences to grow and sharpen each other. As a team, it allows them to be more powerful by covering each other’s blind spots. But it takes awareness and dialogue.

Overall, Green is a manager. Blue is a tactician.

Living In Your Strengths

Everybody is something.

And it’s hard to be someone you are not.

The best you can do, especially under stress, is to be aware of other people’s preferences and then, if you want to have influence, help meet their preferences rather than your own.



Dreamers and Pragmatists

seeing things near
There’s a trade-off by being near-sighted or far-sighted. What you focus on leaves something else out of view. From April Schultz’s Flickr photostream

I love hanging around big picture people. Maybe it is because that’s where I feel most comfortable – my mind likes to think big. If you show me what you are doing, I can show you how to make it bigger. It’s just natural and exhilarating.

On the other hand, there are always the demands of today. What can work right now is important. Practical thinkers can see what will work and focus on those things well. They execute and get things out because it is tried and true. They can even make what works better.

You have a natural way of thinking, and your built-in psyche will pull you in a certain direction. You may be idealistic, practical or somewhere along the continuum.

At some point in your career, you can see your tendency. You may be such a dreamer that you fall in love with ideas at the cost of driving your cash flow.

On the other hand, if you are so myopic and insistent on doing things the way they have been done more efficiently while everything around you is changing, then you will suffer the consequences of obsolescence.

Either way, you have a blind spot. Dreamers can live in their dreams without waking up to reality. Pragmatists can assume the world will only work one way and not imagine anything different.

Having worked thousands of hours with business professionals, I don’t put much stock in your ability to change how you think.

But I do believe you can recognize what is happening and learn to “cheat” yourself. You may often need to do so because life presents a variety of challenges. Of course you can game things your way by putting yourself only in situations that play to your tendencies. But sooner or later, business and life require the dreamer, the strategist, and the pragmatist.

Look around. See how reality has been responding to your blind spot. Being clueless on who you are, how you think and what you tend to do won’t fix the problem. Better to cover your blind spot.

Want to take action, find out how.

Overcoming Your Blind Spots

Blind spot abilities
What can’t you see?

People are pretty predictable. When we talk about someone, we can generalize about them because they act in a consistent way. Your coworker may always crack a joke in tense situations. Your parents will talk about the weather.

While we like to feel original and unboxed, we are largely scripted. We act out of habit and it allows people to see patterns in others. It is why we can think of and refer to someone’s characteristic behaviors.

Yes, sometimes people will surprise us with a decision or action that is out of script. But for the most part, we can safely bet on someone’s responses to a situation.

Our habits are powerful in helping us navigate this turbulent world with all of its unpredictability. However, none of us is a complete package. If you know someone who is a perfect human being, let me know and I would like to meet them.

The reality is that we all have strengths that allow us to thrive and succeed when we apply them. The equal reality is that we all have blind spots. These are things we cannot see though they are there.

The blind spot on a car in our rear side mirrors forces us to have to check over our shoulders before making a turn. Our limited peripheral vision as humans requires us to turn our heads to see what is behind us. Our blind spot is not something we can necessarily fix. It is simply an area we have to manage.

Likewise, we have blind spots in how we work and get things done. Our scripts can be comfortable, yet they are only one way of looking at the world or approaching a problem. They don’t always work.

So, if you have a blind spot, how can you see? The answer is you cannot. That’s why it is a blind spot.

You have to have someone who can help you see what you are unable to. It may mean getting out of your own way and letting someone else take over. Or it can mean asking for help to see something that you are unnatural at.

You may not detect that a relationship needs to be broken for your own good. A person who has more clarity can help you make that decision.

You may not understand that you are thinking too small. Someone with foresight can expand your vision and help you aim higher.

You may get caught in the weeds and obsess about details that do not matter towards the goal. A coworker can help you get unstuck and keep your eye on the goal.

You cannot overcome your blind spots. You can recognize that you have many of them and partner with people that can help you see. It is a secret to leadership. If you fail to do this, you will always be limited because you will keep acting out your script without someone to help you avoid the failure that comes from your weak areas.

How do you grow a business? Or start a business? Or succeed at projects? You have to use your strengths and manage your weaknesses. You can’t do it alone. That would be the ultimate blindness. Know your strengths and be sure to understand who can help you see what you cannot otherwise see.

If you had to guess, what blind spot is keeping you from getting better results?

Strengths: Entrepreneurship And Sales People

The need for closure around a goal is a characteristic of high goal low detail people. Sales Profile High Goal People with this trait, to varying degrees, act with speed and decisiveness.  The need for closure is very high.   It is a common characteristic in professions such as sales and entrepreneurship.

Committing To More Than You Can Deliver

Internally, this type of person is restless.  They want to drive to action and decisions quickly.  Their asset is that they bring energy and movement to projects and work.  On a team, they will drive as a catalyst.

Depending on their cognitive score, they may use action to iterate and receive instant feedback through failure.

They are also not afraid to commit to more than they can personally deliver.  One of the assets of this person is that they are quite resourceful. They can fill needs with people, technology, or whatever is bookmarked in their arsenal of resources.  They get things done by bringing resources to the goal.  This is why they are not afraid to commit.

The blind spot is that this person can overcommit.  They may not assess resources for getting a goal done with consideration for what is realistic.  It is both common and a strain on teams that may be process and resource specific.  They are continually stretched with this person at the helm.

Living In Your Strengths

For the person who has a high goal, low detail strengths test profile, their fulfillment and advantage in life and business is to be involved in roles which allow them to move fast and change quickly.  Change is a good thing.  The tried and true can become wearisome.  They are meant for change.

In my business consulting with such people, I like to encourage them to recognize their blind spot.  They can move before things are ready or agreements are made.  I also encourage them to value their strengths.  They have an innate ability to get things done because of their high goal orientation.  This allows them to navigate with intuition on what is important and how to get to the goal.

Do you find yourself able to move forward with a high need for closure?  Or do you need details before you act?  Feel free to comment below.

Strengths And Their Influence Multiplier Effect

In consulting with people over thousands of hours, I have found that many people do not recognize their strengths. Instead, they focus on their weaknesses. There is typically a disparity in the attention and obsession of attending to the latter rather than building on their strengths.

Strengths tend to elude us.  Too often, we don’t value what we master.  We buy the myth that we can be good at everything if we work hard enough.  This is not true.  We are mediocre at best at many things because they are our weaknesses.  What comes natural is where we can capitalize.

Success Comes From Your Strengths

Successful people that are able to recognize and fully develop their strengths discover a multiplier effect.  It is what they influence others with.  For example, the cognitive score in your strengths test will reveal how you think.  How you think will be a strength for the kind of work which is best suited for you and the roles you will excel in.  You can game your life with this knowledge.  You will have greater influence by being in the right context and capacity.

Watching people who have figured out how to live fully into their natural strengths reveals their multiplier effects.  They rely on a team or a network to compensate for their blind spots while they shine and work effortlessly in their sweet spots.  Look at successful entrepreneurs, leaders, engineers, craftsman or any other professional excellent at their trade.  They work in their strengths area without friction.  They allow others to buttress them in the areas of their weaknesses.

The blind spot is to pursue too many fronts which is both elusive and unrealistic.  Weaknesses have a subtractive effect on your life.

What have you discovered about trying to make your weaknesses better?  Feel free to comment below.

Strengths: Ideas Over Pragmatics

There are people who lean towards ideas and others who are grounded in pragmatics.  This is known as the Cognitive scale in our strengths testing.  You are somewhere on this scale and your scoring shows up in your tendencies.

Planning may be more enjoyable than visioning.  Principles may be more appealing for conversation than how your day went.  Your preferences come from how you think and influence the world around you.

Your tendencies are your strength.  The speed and ease by which you are able to think of a new idea or come up with a procedure is based on how your brain is wired.  It is cause for celebration and caution. There are instances where you shine.  Living in that space allows for opportunity and prosperity.

There are also instances where you can falter.  You might be slower, less enthused and drained of energy.  You are playing in your weaknesses rather than your strengths.

Mastering the area of your natural gifting and living in that space is key for success.  I have observed so many people who play outside their strengths in the work they do or pursue.  It is unfulfilling and frustrating.

For you, it is important to know who you are.  If you like to see the big picture, then living in that space should be around strategy and vision.  Put yourself in a position to engage problems on a daily basis around conceptual issues and questions.

If you are more pragmatic, then concrete work is more satisfying.  Accounting, IT work or secretarial work may be more of what you find enjoyable.  Put yourself in roles which fufill your need for clear definition and deliverables.

We are most successful when we work in our strengths and love our work.

What do you tend towards in your thinking?  Feel free to comment below.

Your Strengths Determine Your Moves

In my work with business professionals and entrepreneurs, I find that the moves they make in their business always follow a path of their strengths.

Think of a chess board. Each piece has the capability to move according to its kind. So it goes with people. World-class organizations move together in concerted fashions with appreciation for each person according to their kind.

If a bishop plays with the moves of a pawn, it is limited. If a rook tries to move like a knight, it cannot. It does not have the inherent makeup, ability and allowance.

Successful people know their design fully and live into it. That has been my observation.

In my own life, I have embraced unapologetically my strength as a Creative Designer. It is why I am able to lead with clarity and speed. It is the value I bring to organizations and teams. The liberation and fulfillment I feel for what I do is because I live fully into my strengths and limit exposure to my weaknesses.

I have witnessed many people who are like the car getting 8 miles to the gallon that should be getting 25 miles per gallon. They think they are operating at what they perceive is normal. I have also seen others who get the full 25 miles out of a gallon and their passion, drive and influence are measurably more impactful in their endeavors.

Want greater success? Beware of what Peter Drucker observed,

“Most Americans do not know what their strengths are. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or they respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer.”

Take a next step and know your strengths intimately so you can align with your design. It’s foundational to anything you want to pursue and be successful at. Miss this point and you continue heading into a skewed direction.