As someone who focuses on helping people with their personality obstacles, I’ve found that nearly everyone — executives, professionals, creatives, scientists, parents, visionaries — has one major Big Personality Flaw (BPF) that holds them back from achieving trusting relationships and personal and professional success.
Now, just to clarify, we all have BPF’s, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us, nor does it mean that we have to change anything. However, in my experience, these flaws often keep us from what we truly desire and when we make a small change to a huge bottleneck, it creates massive results.
Your Big Personality Flaw comes from a deep insecurity.
Here’s the deal: your greatest strength is likely derived from an insecurity you’ve lived with for a long time. Oftentimes we develop our strengths as armor to compensate for our weaknesses. For example, someone might strive for technical expertise to compensate for fear of looking incompetent. If unbalanced, however, this strong attribute can end up as a BPF that makes the same person come across like a know-it-all (and thus, insecure.)
A good friend of mine is a successful serial entrepreneur. Let’s call him Matt. Matt is a powerhouse: he’s run a boutique fitness facility, a marketing and design company, and also co-owns a successful bar in the heart of downtown Boston. He’s smart, funny, and also a life-long bachelor — though not by choice.
I love Matt. He’s kind, talented, and a blast to hang out with. We’ve been friends for over a decade. However, there were many years when we didn’t speak and, truth be told, I can only take him in small doses because of his BPF.
Because Matt is deeply insecure about his personal value — and especially insecure about his outward appearance—he brags about everything incessantly. In nearly every conversation he talks about how well he is doing, the trips he’s taken, and the beautiful romantic conquests under his belt.
It’s annoying as all hell and, honestly, it keeps his friends at bay. It also keeps the good potential women at bay while attracting plenty of unsavory characters who are also insecure about their personal value.
What is Your Big Personality Flaw?
Your BIG personality flaw affects how close you are able to get to others. You see, your strengths earn you respect and camaraderie whereas your big personality flaw keeps people at arm’s length.
This, naturally, caps your leadership potential and your ability to gain buy-in for professional success–not to mention hot dates.
Ultimately, your BPF reinforces your deep-seated insecurity and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It gets triggered when you feel stressed or insecure and, when unchecked, has people rolling their eyes behind your back.
A BPF of mine when I get insecure is I hyper-criticize everyone and everything. I’m very good at it and oftentimes it actually draws attention—the attention of other miserable people.
My insecurity comes from the fear of not belonging, the fear of being rejected by others. As a child, I was the immigrant kid who looked different from everyone else and who couldn’t speak English. I am also quite astute and analytical and, for better or worse, I also have Asian parents whose sole mission in life was to criticize every waking move I made and compare it with my sister, my cousin and the population of all their friends’ children.
When I used to get uncomfortable, in new situations or with new people, my inner critic turned on full blast. I offended many people and left a bad taste in their mouth.
Find the antidote
Every BPF has solution. Once, I identified this tick, I turned it around by using my analytical proclivities for positive and constructive criticism. Then, all of a sudden, I became a magnet for appreciative, positive people who valued my opinion.
At the same time, I became less insecure about fitting in.
The antidote to your BPF is consciously using your tick in a positive way.
This simply means, channeling your BPF for good: to bring people closer to you rather than pushing them away. For example, Matt could use his insecure bragging to brag about others and their talents, this creates closer relationships and is a positive use of his natural personality proclivity.
What your colleagues and friends are not telling you is costing you
We all have a mode that turns people off.
Let me repeat: we all go into a specific mode where BPF takes over and people run for the hills, or at least brace themselves internally.
Most people will not tell you that you are being difficult, though you may notice the room gets more silent and people avoid eye contact with you.
This, my friend, is costing you everything: respect, potential income, credibility, and most importantly, intimacy.
Some BPF’s that I see most often:
Defensive behavior: I didn’t make a bad call, the engineer gave me bad data and my manager didn’t make the task clear enough. No way is it my fault.
Self-victimization and apathy: I never get consideration for promotions, if only I had an MBA and played golf, life would be so much easier.
Martyr for Humanity: I have to do everything myself, everyone else sucks or doesn’t do it right.
Non-confrontational, passive aggressive water cooler complainer: Rather than bringing up issues in a constructive way, let me talk behind your back without ever offering a viable solution.
BPF’s I see most often with leaders, executives and people on the high command chain
One-way speaker: I am talking at you. No wait, I am actually talking through you…to myself.
Constant experience quoter: When I was at HBS consulting for McKinsey during the Gulf War, this is how we did things…
Conversation bulldozer: I can’t believe you thought that I was listening to what you had to say, here, let me tell you why you must listen to me.
Old Hall of Famer: Remember the time when I did this so perfectly 15 years ago?
What you need to do now
Chances are, if you are the least bit self-reflective, you will have a sense that there is something amiss in your relationships. Perhaps there are some areas where you aren’t taken seriously or are lacking consensus and support.
Do yourself a favor and take some time to identify your BPF now. Ask friends and colleagues to offer you their honest feedback and work on healing the personal insecurity that is fueling this monster.
If you need help in identifying or creating a plan to mitigate your BPF, this is my sweet spot. Schedule an Activation Session with me and we can not only talk about your Big Personality Flaw, but also create a strategy to create more success than you thought possible in your professional and personal life.
I hope you find this post as an opportunity to identify this one major roadblock to your success. If you identify your BPF, please comment and join the conversation! I’m happy to respond.
About the Author: Anna Tsui is a serial international entrepreneur, writer and speaker. She runs Anna Tsui International LLC where she coaches individuals and teams on how to deeply understand and leverage their unique leadership skills so that they can develop deeper, more impactful relationships and create more successful companies and more fulfilling lives. She specializes in empowering diverse leaders and helping people thrive in chaos.
Contact her at email@example.com