Learning to Leverage Your Strengths

...That often show up as a weakness

Have you ever struggled to figure out how to leverage a strength that is coming across as a weakness?

If you’ve ever watched popcorn pop, you’ll understand one of mine.

One little kernel heats up, flies into the air and explodes into light fluffy happiness. POP!

Then a couple more kernels join the fun! POP! POP!

Then a few more! POP! POP! POP! POP! POP!

Soon the party is in full swing, as the noise, chaos, and joy increase rapidly! POP! Pop! POP! Pop! POP! POP!!! POP!!!!

That’s me and…My popcorn brain


For many years I sat in meetings:

  • Excited by the challenge of problem solving.
  • Fueled by the opportunity to be creative and to collaborate.

And frustrated because I could not clearly articulate what was happening inside my brain.

Each time I’d start to talk about the kernel that just opened up, another one would fly by, and then another and another.

I am pretty sure that I looked like a cartoon character with my eyes rolling around in my head trying to focus on the first kernel while another part of my brain not only noticed the new kernel, it recognized the synergy that was possible between them.

…All while more and more kernels began to fly by and explode with excitement!

So now, not only were my eyes rolling around in my head, my tongue was getting all twisted up trying to explain to the people in front of me that my brain was having a party they could benefit from – if I could get the words out!

It was only when I learned to give myself permission to write those thoughts down in the midst of a meeting that I began to find a way to unleash the strength that had always been there.  

  • Almost as soon those kernels  flow out of my fingers and appear in front of my eyes, I am able to turn a zillion seemingly unrelated thoughts into bite-sized popcorn balls that others can understand and get excited about.

And in that moment one of my weaknesses becomes an even more significant strength.

Figuring out how to leverage that gift took time.

I learned to recognize and embrace that my need to see and touch things before I can articulate them clearly, is not weird!  It’s my natural learning style and it is appropriate in even the most conservative boardrooms.

The more I embrace my authentic self, the more I unleash the gift, and the more joy and confidence I have.

Popcorn BrainToday when I tell that story – people usually laugh at the comedy of it all, and then relate the lesson to a struggle in their own lives or to someone they know.

  • Have you ever struggled to unleash a strength that is anxiously waiting to be leveraged?
  • Have you ever mined for a strength inside one of your employees or family members?

If you are interested in learning more check out these resources:

(Both were transformational for me as an emerging leader.)

Image Credits:  istock

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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4 thoughts on “Learning to Leverage Your Strengths

  1. Your metaphor of popcorn really brought this to life! You truly gave us a look inside of your brain (not something many people can do). It’s amazing what happens when you bring awareness to what was once just “the way it is”. Harnessing weaknesses means understanding the way we work and I know at times it’s been easier to get frustrated than make a sustainable change. Often I hear from clients, why does it seem harder for me than (name here). My only answer is that we never know someone’s challenges from the outside looking in. Easier? Harder? Says who.

    Thanks, Chery!

    • LOL! Did you enjoy the party in my brain?

      You point reminds me of a story I read about a child with a physical challenge that came home from a field day at school with with ribbons from winning, and bubbling over with excitement.

      The child told his mother that the teacher said he had an advantage, “He had to try harder.”

      An advantage we usually see as a disadvantage! (Cool how that relates to your post this week too!)