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Do your Talents have you drunk on your over-use patterns?

Updated: Mar 25

Have you ever stopped to observe yourself and others and how some people just seem addicted to certain negative ways of being?

Watching the movie "Elvis" from 2022 starting Austin Butler, I came away from this biographical drama of the legendary Elvis' life with a much greater understanding of how our Strengths in overuse can drive an almost an insatiable addiction to dysfunctional behaviours that has us drunk on our over-use patterns, to the detriment of self, others, and the environment at large.

To firstly bring some perspective, it helps to understand that Strengths are our naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour that can be productively applied to specific activities and roles, which create high Energy and Performance for you and others. You can read more here. It would make sense then, that when our Strengths are not being productively applied, they can become weaknesses, as the dysfunction created from the impact of a Strength in overdrive or underuse can inflict pain and negative impact on both self, others, and the environments within which we operate.

Yet if we are aware of these over/under-use patterns, why do we persist?

I guess the clue is in whether we are actually aware of how our Strengths in overdrive/underuse are playing out as negative traits, and how these are impacting ourselves and others. Watching Elvis' life portrayed in this movie, one could see here was an individual who had come into the world with intrinsic needs, as we all do, yet our needs are all different depending on how we are wired. One could see a gentle man, with relationship building Strengths, who appeared to be connected to his spirituality, yet it seemed his influencing Strengths had downplayed these in his need to be seen, to excel in his showmanship, to be the best, to please his audience, all of which were highly prevalent ... but at what cost?

There was an external pressure on Elvis, inflicted from the needs of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' Dutch manager, an entrepreneur who clearly could read people. He understood the needs of Elvis so deeply, almost from a narcissistic perspective, that he manipulated and played on these to the detriment of the man himself, feeding Elvis' insatiable need to 'over' influence until his untimely death aged only 42 years of age. Yet if we love and care for one another, would we behave in this manner?

When we consider the high rate of divorce in the world and how functional families are the main stay of our societies, this idea of being drunk on our 'over-use' patterns truly deserves some deep introspection, especially when one considers the impact Elvis' life and divorce from Pricilla had on Lisa-Marie, who passed away recently aged only 55 years, and her son, Grandson of Elvis, Benjamin Keough, who took his life in 2020 at a young 27 years of age.

Picture courtesy of Facebook

I cried at the end of the movie, heartbroken for lives lost to torment in contrast to a book I'm currently listening to which cites Maslow's hierarchy of needs, called Transcend by Scott Barry Kaufman, in which Kaufman ultimately describes a life where we gain a deep understanding of who we are at our core, our needs and contributions, and then forget who we are in service of others, and those higher purposes that might serve our greater humanity.

To explain these two dichotomies one needs a deeper understanding of the ways in which we choose intentionally and sometimes, unintentionally, to relate to ourselves and others. I call this 'Interdependent Rules of Engagement' or I-ROE for short (see diagram below). There is a spectrum where our ego can become detrimental to our relationships with self and others. This is referred to here as the 'Circle of Toxicity' containing 3 types of dependencies which are often harmful and can have negative impacts, all of which we can relate to, as we fluctuate between these differing dependencies most of the time.

Put simply, "Co-dependence" is a transactional relationship where two or more people please each other in an effort to have their intrinsic needs met - here our own needs and contributions are put on hold. "Dependence" is when we expect others to meet our needs, one of the worst forms of dependency as our contributions are more often than not, suppressed, draining us of our valuable high energy and performance. Then "Independence" is when we look after ourselves and our own needs, and our contributions go into overuse patterns of behaviour where there is an excess of power over others. This can become a sick aphrodisiac in and of itself - totally unsustainable over the long haul if the measurement is sustainable relationships, health and wellbeing. All of these dependencies have consequences, more importantly, the unintended negative consequences we have no control over that spill over into all aspects of our lives and futures.

When we consider the life of Elvis, are you able to see which dependency he was at when he was on stage - wanting to excel in his showmanship, to be the best, to please his audience? What impact did this have on his wife Pricilla and his daughter Lisa-Marie? Which dependency were they pushed to? What was the impact of his audience on his needs and contributions? How did his manager's insatiable desires for bigger and better drive their codependency? I would say Elvis acted in Independence, drunk on his own over-use patterns of behaviour, pushing his wife and child to dependency where they waited patiently for him to change his ways, yet ultimately forcing her to take matters into her own hands in an effort to save their dignity, forcing her to join him in independence as she left him and filed for divorce.

Consider Colonel Tom Parker who seemingly only cared about himself. His self-serving ways can only be described as independent, dipping in and out of co-dependence with Elvis as they went through the highs and lows of stardom. This addiction to "self" becomes so destructive because when our Strengths go into overdrive, so does our relationships with others and the negative implications that happen as a result. Many of us can relate these kinds of behaviours in our work/home/community environments as we suffer with cognitive dissonance, not having the words to understand why we are feeling the way we are. Often this can lead to what the world terms mental health issues, yet are our personal and social issues medicalised. This can lead us to suppression of self where we need help to understand what is happening to us, as we cannot tackle situations like this alone.

To make this short 'n sweet, I'd like to finish by explaining why interdependence is the only dependency that serves us in our relationships towards a better humanity. This is because, in order to be interdependent, we need to have a certain level of postive consciousness and intention and a deep understanding of how we are naturally wired, because it is only through this understanding that we are able to know our needs and contributions and maintain an equilibrium.

This we can then use to remind ourselves of the reality that we are wired infinitely different to the next person, and as such, need to respect this reality, and allow others the space to thrive and respect us interdependently in return. This consciousness allows us to consider our impact on self, others, and the environment at large, and ensure this is postive and sustainable over the long haul, whether this is at home, work, or with our friends and acquaintances, because dysfunction is simply unsustainable, taking on a devastating life of its own.

We also need to remember, we only go into overdrive patterns of behaviour when our needs go unmet. Understanding how you are intrinsically wired is the first step in knowing your specific needs because they are different depending on your unique innate talent patterns.

Though Elvis may have had influencing talent patterns such as Self Assurance, Maximizer, and Significance, Achiever is an executing pattern that, when in overdrive, can keep individuals addicted to working and achieving goals. Combined with his other talent patterns, one wonders if Achiever also added to Elvis' insatiable appetite for performance.

So let me explain by showing you the needs, contributions, underuse/overuse patterns and triggers of Achiever as an example, as this is one of the most common Strengths out of the 34 Strengths.


Contributions: Hardworking, setting the standard, achievement of goals, accomplished, finisher, goes the extra mile, measures success

Needs: Challenging & specific goals to achieve, self governing & independence, timelines, to be surrounded by hard-workers, accountability for self & others.

Overdrive/Underuse Patterns: Overworking, workaholic, pressure on self to perform at the cost of relationships. An addiction to work and work often, harder than others. Work/life out of balance at the exclusion of everything else.

Triggers: People holding back on finishing goals, not meeting deadlines, failing to achieve, lack of metrics to work towards, lazy people, interruptions, lack of action and too much talking. Failure to prioritise and have direction.

We are all guilty of overusing our talent patterns in some manner. If you are interested to understand your own patterns of behaviours and how to productively apply these to your specific relationships, activities, and roles in order to create and maintain high energy and performance for you and others, you could consider joining an online group here to gain a deeper understanding of your own Strengths and talent Patterns, ultimately learning what I like to call the intrinsic Language of Strengths.

If you think you may be addicted to negative patterns of behaviour and are finding these causing breakdowns in your relationships, perhaps its time to consider moving back towards your intrinsic self, to stop nurturing your non-talent patterns, and work towards nurturing the talents and strengths of the person you were born to be. You can begin the process by unlocking your top 5 talents patterns here.

NB: Nature of Coaching: The client is aware that Coaching is in no way to be construed as psychological counselling or any type of therapy. Coaching results are not guaranteed. The client enters into the Coaching with the full understanding that they are responsible for creating their own outcomes and results and any information gained from the Coaching process is accepted by the client purely at their own discretion. WITH will not be held responsible, in any way whatsoever, for directives followed by the client. We will ensure, at all times, to remain encouraging, motivating and enthusiastic in helping you achieve your goals, dreams and objectives. If you feel it necessary, seek psychological counselling.

Sam McDonald has been married for 30 yeas and has four children. They are a Strength-based family, using the CliftonStrengths® to enhance marriage & family life. Their home is in Hampton Court, UK and the FalseBay Coast, Cape, SA. She is a Futurist and Chief Visionary Officer for WITH-HUMANITY, a change-maker with a dream to disrupt our current meritocracy by "Unlocking the IntrinsicIdentity © of all Individuals in service of greater human engagement" creating an all inclusive universal value metric and social system.

She is a Normative Visionary, Systems Thinker, Disruptor, Change-Maker & Activist. Graduating Cum Laude with an MPhil in Futures Studies from the University of Stellenbosch, after failing matric, she believes matching one's intrinsic wiring to how we learn yields exponential results, leap-frogging our current education system. She influences thinking in order to create futures-led enquiry & change towards a future we all want to be part of - linking strategic leadership and management with futures thinking. Her use of Interdependent Rules of Engagement© and the CliftonStrength® Assessment, as well as various Foresight Methodologies, are tools of choice to influence mindset change, and help people understand each other's unique world views, which are coloured by what she terms our Strengths Language.

She moved to South Africa in 1983 from Nottingham, UK and has lived in both dysfunction and functional environments. These she views as her "cross to bear is your gift to share" - serving as a bridge in understanding how to create function out of chaos.

She and her fellow Coaches, work with motivated clients using the CliftonStrength® Assessment as a power tool for:

  • Strength Based Interviewing & Recruitment

  • Assisting motivated individuals to fall in love with their careers and find the work they were born to do.

  • Working with high achievers to discover their value and purpose

  • Working with Start-ups to gain momentum, motivation & self-awareness of the Entrepreneur

  • Assisting Students to gain a greater self-awareness, expediting their career path, building confidence and self-esteem.

  • Working with individuals to re-engage in their work environments & leveraging their strengths

  • Working with marriage relationships to help you love again and understand the toxicity, reduce negative experiences, create understanding and, in turn, assist with long-term strategies for lasting transformation

  • Finding your true Purpose, Passion and Value in Life

  • Falling in love with your life and work again

  • She teaches the 'Interdependent Rules of Engagement© & Vulnerability' to focus on living 'Interdependence' as the key to healthier environments - choosing this as 'rules of engagement' over 'Dependence', 'Co-Dependence' & 'Independence'.

Follow the link if you would like to take the Strengths Assessment and here to read more about how to discover who you are at your core.

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