Part 2 | Strengths and Combinations: Why It Matters What Actions We Take and Whom We Take Them With


February 17, 2016 

5 Ideas, 3 Questions, and an Action

Five Ideas 

When it comes to collaboration with others, what does it mean that 2 + 2 doesn’t always equal 4?

Consider the following scenario where two people are loading up a moving truck: The first person can lift a maximum of one box weighing 100 pounds and the second person can lift no more than 50 pounds by themselves.  However, together they can lift a box weighing 200 pounds.  How can that be?

In strictly mathematical terms—100 + 50—together they should be able to lift no more than 150 pounds, right?  Fact is, however, when two or more people come together they unlock the capability of doing more than the sum of their parts.  Human relations are not mathematical, especially in terms of synergy and collaboration.

All the same, it’s not magic, it can boil down to something as straightforward and simple as mechanics—as is the case with lifting boxes, wherein two people have more leverage than one person does, so they can distribute the weight between them and “float” part of the box.

When we truly own our strengths and stop trying to solve challenges alone, we open ourselves to this type of leverage and find collaborators who compliment our strengths.  We allow ourselves to focus on what we do best, and others to focus on what they do best.  Both parties in shared pursuit of a common goal become like independent gears turning inside a magnificent watch, each serving a different function for the same purpose.

Three Questions

Who are my key collaborators in this life?  That is, who are the people I spend the most time “living life” with?

Are these people in support of my greatness?  In what ways do they encourage me to really go for it in life?

Are there people who I need to set a boundary with and/or stop caring about what they think so much?

An Action

Desired Result: Identify Your Greatness Network

Concrete Action: Most of us have a basic idea of who our supporters in life are, but have we ever made a list?  Lists are great perspective-shifters in that they make it easy to get an overview of a situation and to see something complex at-a-glance.  Add to that, when we tune our minds toward the creation of a list, we are likely to make connections that we wouldn’t have otherwise made.  In this case, we might suddenly realize, “Woah, I’ve got more supporters than I realized” or “I never realized that so-and-so played such a crucial role in my life.”  That said, it’s easy: Grab a pen and piece of paper (or a laptop) and start listing anyone and everyone in your life and social circles who contributes to your greatness and/or you idea of greatness.  You can get as creative or narrow as you choose, but challenge yourself to truly consider all the folks in your day—from boss, to mail carrier, to partner, to Facebook.   Who supports you being the best version of you?

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

Circle Photo

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world. He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Strengths Consultant.

Connect with him:


Twitter: @zstrengthslife

Facebook: Zachary Carlsen

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