Superheroes are all the rage. The movie theaters are full of preternatural beings endowed with super powers that are able to leap tall buildings and save the world from alien invasions. In these stories, the heroes always have the answers no matter what problems they are confronted with.
Obviously, real life is not this simple. No matter how talented someone is, no single person will ever have all the answers. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have superpowers. In fact, everyone has superpowers, and in business knowing what gifts you’re endowed with and knowing how to use them effectively can mean the difference between success and failure.
When working with my clients I have them take a PATH Elements Assessment. This is a personality assessment based on the four elements of earth, water, wind and fire. I prefer it to other personality profiles because it’s straightforward, easy to understand, and it allows me to spend more time working on their self-discovery versus methodology. Understanding your personality and how it manifests itself can help you develop better habits, communication skills, and build better relationships. Basically, it helps you discover your superpowers.
One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is not having a full of understanding of their superpowers and by extension their weaknesses. This can lead to unrealistic expectations of what they can accomplish, which in turn sets them up for frustration and failure. An example that often comes up relates to the heavy sales component needed to make a business successful. People whose personality is heavy in the Earth and Water elements, similar to introverts, tend to find sales and networking more difficult than those who are Winds and Fires and have extrovert characteristics.
Does this mean that Earths and Waters can’t sell? No, but it is important for them to be aware that this is an area they may struggle with, and that they will need to be more intentional in figuring out how to counteract this potential weakness. It can be simple things like setting dedicated times to work on sales’ tasks or taking some professional development classes. Whatever the solution to a weakness, it begins with having the knowledge and awareness of it. This is especially beneficial in the early planning stages when the entrepreneur is deciding what type of business is best suited for them.
The second biggest mistake I see is that once entrepreneurs know what their strengths and weaknesses are, they fixate on fixing their weaknesses instead of building up their strengths. Time is a limited valuable resource, especially for entrepreneurs. There are only so many things you can do in a day and you need to be strategic about where you spend your time.
Spending too much time working on certain tasks for your business that you just don’t have the aptitude for is a mistake. For those things you should look at whether you can outsource them or hire an employee to take them on. For example, people who are Winds, such as myself, don’t tend to enjoy repetitive, administrative tasks. I would rather be out making sales calls and networking, so rather than devote too much time on building a tolerance for administrative boredom, I outsource some of those tasks.
Knowing your personality is half of the equation. Equally as important is understanding people’s personalities outside of yours because it helps you communicate and build better relationships which is key in any successful business. This is another reason why I love the PATH Elements Assessment. It helps you visualize and identify the characteristics and personalities of those around you. Once you understand other people’s personalities, you can develop ways to communicate with them in a way that resonates with their specific needs and motivations. This is something you can apply to sales or managing your team or just having better interpersonal relationships. It’s not quite as exciting as having the superpower to read other people’s minds, but it may feel like it.
Here is a quick overview of the PATH personality elements. Everyone is combination of all four elements with some more dominant than others.
EARTH – Tends to do well at accomplishing tasks and getting results. Motivated by building orderly processes that leads to accuracy. Likes to stay focused in order to “get it right.” Moves slowly and is good at maintaining projects. Earth-like traits are: steady, predictable, foundational solid, secure.
WATER – Sensitive to the needs of people. Enjoys building lasting relationships in which it can play an encouraging and supportive role. Motivated by stability and harmony. Tends to move slowly like Earth and is typically good at maintaining. Water-like traits are: reflective, life-giving, easy-going, capable of “going with the flow.”
WIND – Motivated by interaction with people but prefers a fast, changing pace. Initiators who enjoy networking with others in order to get things done and gain attention. Wind-like traits are: restless, unpredictable, invisible, quick to move, needs to see things in motion.
FIRE – Motivated to undertake challenging tasks. Seeks power and control in order to achieve their goals. Tends to move quickly and enjoys initiating projects. Fire-like traits are: passionate, all-consuming, uncompromising, intense.