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The Greater the Light, the Greater the Shadow

The Greater the Light, the Greater the Shadow

October 21, 2014

Light and Shadows


The poet Maya Angelou once wrote; “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” I believe each of us is born with a tremendous light. This light is your gift to the world; if you discover and pursue it, your light can set you on a path to greatness. If you miss it, you'll live a life of mediocrity.

But when you walk down the street on a bright sunny day, you can usually see your shadow tailing you everywhere you go.  The sunnier the day, the larger the shadow. The same holds true for your own personal light: the greater your light, the greater the shadow. The larger your strengths, the bigger your weaknesses.

Consider that major league pitchers, who are great at throwing the ball , are usually the worst hitters on the team.  

I have a friend who is a professional speaker. Let’s call him Steve. He is engaging and entertaining. The problem with Steve is, he often doesn’t know when to stop talking  and to start listening. The more he talks, the less he hears.  I’m so embarrassed to have sometimes seen that in myself. But then, I remind myself of what my dad, Sam Goldman, used to say, “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly.”




A good friend of mine, Dave, is a very decisive person. His strength is his ability to make a decision quickly and stand firmly by it. It’s impressive.

But what do you think his weakness is? Dave walks into the forest with blinders on and ignores the birds, the weather, and the smell of a storm coming. He decides fast — before entertaining all of the possibilities. The result is that Dave totally misses some opportunities because he is so good at being decisive. That’s his light. But he is really poor at exploring messy, unclear, non-intuitive alternatives. That’s his shadow. And I have seen how this has bitten him several times.  


GEN Y’S light and shadow....

Think about Generation Y for a moment. They are absolutely brilliant when it comes to adapting to and implementing new technology. Their technical skills are truly their light. The problem is, they lack the patience for long-term thinking.  When there is a complex issue that requires careful, slow consideration to find a solution, that’s their shadow. They get antsy and uncomfortable — and often, the outcome suffers.   I’ve seen Baby Boomers beat the pants off of them here.


Using Your Light and Minimizing Your Shadows

At Brand Launcher, we help leaders discover their greatest assets and their greatest bottlenecks. Often, we find leaders who are stuck in “Founder’s Trap.”  They are trying to follow their light... but they suffer because they are so unaware of their shadows.

How can we help these people?  Try doing a 360. Get feedback all 360 degrees by asking the team, what's it like to work with the leader? Give them permission to be really honest, and prepare to be surprised by the responses.

Of course, the makeup of your team matter, too. You want to build a team that counterbalances your shadows. By identifying people with a light that is the opposite of the your light, you end up with an organization that possesses strength and stability.

For example, if you are a hunter -- the ADHD-type of relationship-oriented creative thinker -- your shadow is inconsistency, unreliability, and poor organizational abilities. But you can balance yourself with team members who are consistent, reliable, and hyper-organized.   


Find and Focus on Your Light

The first step, of course, is discovering your light. Here are 6 questions to help you.

1. When you get involved in a conversation, what do you really like to talk about?

2. When you go to a bookstore, what type of books are you naturally drawn to?

3. When you think of great successes in your life, what comes to mind?

4. What things do you do with near-perfect performance — consistently? (The consistency is key here. I can hit a 20-foot jumper once in a while. But an NBA star can do it consistently.)

5. What launches you out of bed in the morning?

6. What falls into these categories  for which you can get proper financial compensation?

While your light is that something special within, the last question touches on practicality.  For example, I love playing Frisbee whenever I can — but unfortunately, nobody is offering to pay me for this. To help you succeed in business,  you’ll need to focus your light within your professional capacity.

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,