In college and throughout my 20s I played competitive rugby. I was not that great, but my teammates often said that I was intense. I took that as a compliment until I looked up the meaning of the word. Intense means “existing in an extreme degree.” I realized then that my teammates were telling me I needed to lighten up on my competitive edge.
In the talent world we talk about Talent Intensifiers. Two talents in our Top 5 may combine to intensify, escalate, or boost one another. The result can be brilliant, exponentially strengthening each other to an acute dynamic of greatness. But there is also the potential for a more lethal punch of Kryptonite from the uber effect as well.
The two most common Intensifiers are Achiever and Responsibility. Achievers have an intrinsic drive to get more things done and push high accomplishment by checking to-dos off a list. One person with Achiever said, “It’s almost like a drug. This inner force to complete something keeps driving me so I can get that euphoria of accomplishment and execution once I get it over the finish line.”
Responsibility looks similar but it’s the extrinsic pull of coming through for others that fuels this talent. Whether providing for the family, performing well for the team, or pleasing the boss, this talent wants to deliver on commitments and promises as well as fulfill the expectations of others. When you combine the synergy of these two talents you often see an individual with a high capacity to take on work and often set new standards of production or picking up the slack when others falter. On the flip side, it can be difficult to dial the production down to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and an aversion to delegating and rest that is a recipe for burn-out.
Another Intensified pair are two Reflect talents that may look similar: Input and Learner. Both have a curiosity impulse that can launch a search for answers. It’s in the application of information that they differ. A Learner’s quest is the intake of new knowledge, experiences, skills, and perspectives, for active implementation. Input absorbs a larger swath of intelligence for dissemination in the moment or curating for possible later reference. Combined they create a huge reservoir of informed knowledge from the practical to the trivial. However, these intensified forces may get stuck in the deep reflective whirlpool of the pursuit of knowledge or can overwhelm others with too much information when they open their floodgates of facts and comprehension.
Communication and Woo are another Intensified pair. People with Communication are good at verbalizing their views and opinions, relaying useful information, or just shooting the breeze. They may use stories and metaphors to bring events to life or make the complex relevant. Woo stand for “winning others over.” Both talents have a messaging component that enlightens or persuades others to a way of thinking or acting. Co-mingled in a person’s Top 5 they can produce oration that captures hearts and minds with relevance and eloquence. But the intensified Kryptonite of this duo, especially if the talents are overused or underdeveloped, can leave others feeling pounded by waves of words or verbal vomiting.
Not everyone has intensified talents and some people have more than one Intensifier dynamic. I worked with one individual on a team who had four Intensifiers in his Top 5. This revelation brought incredible clarity for his team and a new development trajectory for his growth to turn those talents into strengths. As I learned in my “intense” style of rugby, it’s not just seeing what creates the intensification, it’s harnessing that uber power for even greater productivity.