You Can’t Fix People

You can’t fix people. 

I have a pet theory that I’m going to tell you about, but keep in mind, it’s just a pet theory. It’s my version of one way in which the world works. 

If you have a strength that makes you powerful and amazing in a certain area, you also have an equally powerful weakness that causes harm, damage, and problems for people around you.

I call it the Superman theory. The source of your strength is the source of your weakness.

Imagine you know someone who is really good at forging a path that they believe in without regard for the critics on the sideline.  Against all odds, they don’t care what people think of them. It’s simply who they are. That superpower does not stop with the people they like. Sometimes people they love also have critical words to say to counter the damage and destruction that attitude can sometimes carry. But fundamentally, they also don’t really care what you think either. And you get lumped in with the sideline critics. 

These are not balanced people. They are beautifully unbalanced in a way that makes them powerful and sometimes harmful. 

I could give a dozen other variations on this theme, but I want to talk about the important part of being in relationship with these kinds of people. 

If you try to fix their weaknesses, you’ll almost always find that you break their strengths. 

Say you fix someone’s flaw, not because of their own internal motivations, but because you have finally accomplished forcing them to change. I guarantee you, you’ve also broken what made them amazing. And even worse, when someone changes because you forced them into it, it’s not real or lasting change.

There’s a separate conversation to be had about the fact that everyone should be in the business of improving themselves as human beings. But true change can only come from inside motivation, even if it begins as outside influence. 

But I’ll finish with the other profound truth. 

What happens when you are in a business or personal relationship with somebody and they have dramatic flaws that are actually hurting you? 

That’s a different conversation and it’s called boundaries. There comes a point in relationships with people whose weaknesses cross a line that you’re not okay with. And at that point, you have the option of drawing healthy boundaries. It’s fair to say, “Hey, this thing that you do is not okay to do with me, and if you continue to do that, then we are going to be over.”

If they can find a way to manage their weaknesses so that line isn’t crossed with you, then it can be a manageable situation. But sometimes their response to your effort to draw healthy boundaries is, “Screw you, this is who I am! Get over it.” 

And that’s a relationship that you end.

That feels like a hard way to finish, but here is the bottom line. 

Don’t try to fix people.
Everyone is both strong and weak, usually from the same source.
Healthy boundaries are a real thing. 

Daniel Whittington – Chancellor