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3 Personality Traits That Will Totally Undo Your Potential

Stephen R. Covey said, “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or, as we are conditioned to see it.” I believe that, and as such, I propose that the accumulation of our thoughts, attitudes, perception of relationships, estimation of self-worth, and our outlook on circumstances create the lens through which we see life, react (or respond) to life, and ultimately live life.

Just like mirrors.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Mirrors don’t lie. But can you imagine what it would be like if mirrors actually reflected the inner workings of our heart and personality just as transparently as the face we see everyday? Ouch. I don’t know about you, but I might be tempted to hide from that mirror.

I need to be completely transparent and tell you that there have been days very recently in which I have felt completely unqualified to have anything to say that is of lasting value, especially when discouraging circumstances, frustrating people, and unchecked emotions create a faulty perception of reality that becomes the reality from which I live. And that reactionary position is ugly and dangerous.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

What I realized is that in that place of frantically trying to stay afloat, personality traits that definitely don’t represent my best come out; traits like being reactionary, rigid, reclusive, strong-willed, resentful, and prideful.

One thing is sure: I’m definitely not proud of them.

Candidly, I saw how ridiculously incapacitating they are when allowed to dump a hot bag of apathy-and-self-pity-loaded crap upon my mind and heart.

Now understand, these aren’t diagnosable personality disorders, but they are transient personality traits that we all are baited to adopt throughout life at one time or another.

But why?

Broken Glass

I suspect they come from a place of hurt and brokenness. I’ve often asked myself, “Was I too nice?” “Was I naive?” “Whose approval was I insistent upon gaining?” “Was I just giving my bad day too much room to play darts upon my heart?” “How can I be a voice of courage when I feel so empty?” The answers to those questions will shed light upon the fuel for the emotional fire within.

Interestingly, I have discovered that a lot of faulty behavior emanates from an overextension of a particular character strength. In fact, as a leader, I’ve often told my teams and clients that any strength over-extended becomes a weakness. Allow me to illustrate. An individual whose natural strengths include being detail-oriented, excellence-driven, and accuracy-minded could become rigid and close-minded when under significant stress and agitation. For the most part, though, this is circumstantial.

Three Personality Traits that Will Totally Undo Your Potential

Outside of circumstantial stress, however, exist deep-seated personality traits that show-up on a consistent basis in people’s lives—personality traits that will totally undo your potential. And there are three in particular that you and I must avoid at all costs.

1.) The Controlling Person

I’m most certain that you’ve dealt with a highly controlling person at some point in your life. You know the type: everything is either right or wrong and they withhold attention and affection until you line-up with their expectations, perspectives, and opinions. With a controlling person, constructive criticism is a veiled motivation to advance his/her agenda. In addition, constructive criticism usually results in an assault on your personhood. Most controllers are micromanagers, where, in a job situation, their off-putting “leadership” style results in team members becoming detached robots who take orders instead of being empowered, thinking, creative contributors. What fuels the thinking and behavior of a controlling person? Sadly, fear; fear of losing—as Janet Jackson put it—control.

2.) The Person with a Critical Spirit

A person with a critical spirit kills your spirit and in tandem, your total worth is measured based upon performance. It’s in that place that the performance-acceptance robot gets its batteries recharged. Those with a critical spirit are obsessed with faultfinding. As such, their primary objective, which is to tear you down, is often motivated by insecurity, immaturity, and pride. In essence, a critical spirit becomes a proverbial brick wall in others’ lives. The apostle Paul, when writing to the Romans (14:13), had this to say: “Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.” The critical person, therefore, reacts to and exposes the shortcomings of others, which creates strife and division among people. And a divisive person will tear your house down brick-by-brick.

3.) The Arrogant Person

The arrogant person is a know-it-all whose overestimation of self creates inaccessibility to a genuine and meaningful relationship. To that, Proverbs 18:2, one of my favorite scriptures, hits the nail on the head: “A [self-confident] fool has no delight in understanding but only in revealing his personal opinions and himself.” Practically speaking, an arrogant person usually displays at least one or more of the following behaviors:

  • They lack eye contact with others (because giving attention isn’t a priority).
  • They’re consistently late.
  • They’re consistently bossy.
  • They have the need to always “one-up” others.
  • They can’t celebrate the accomplishments of others.

Sadly, arrogance is the counterfeit of authentic confidence. Confidence inspires and empowers while arrogance separates and disempowers.

“Exercise” the Demons?

Friend, we have to talk about this stuff. We can’t let this slip under the radar and live life as if all is well when some of it feels like hell. You and I have incredible potential, more than we realize, but letting the demons out to play will cripple it.

I know life is messy, but our championing of everyday life, the “middle” as I mentioned in an earlier post, has to be a priority. Remember what Solomon said? It’s the little foxes that steal the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15).

Thanks for trusting me with your time. Thanks for letting me speak into your life. I don’t take it for granted. I don’t champion my brokenness, because that’s not who I am; but it’s a real part of what I’ve learned. And what I’ve learned becomes a vault of experience by which I can be a guide to help you be your own hero.

Mad love-



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