The Threat of ‘Triple Threats’

by Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. on 11/04/2015

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Are you a ‘Triple Threat’ — someone who is overtly talented in three skills?  Maybe you’re a singer/dancer/actor.  Or an inventor/engineer/marketing guru.  (I’ve even met a writer/pastor/master gardener).  If you excel at multiple things, be aware:  you may be scaring people.  It’s not deliberate.  You are just doing things you love that you are good at  — but you may be inadvertently posing a threat to other.  Without meaning to, you might be making others feel jealous or inadequate or less than competent.

This is one of the stickiest challenges faced by a DaVinci — someone juggling many talents, projects, and ideas:  How to enjoy, develop, and succeed in multiple arenas, regardless of others’ reactions.

If you have more than one skill, you’ve no doubt experienced a range of reactions to your talents.  Sure, some people are appreciative and supportive. Yet others might be uncomfortable.

It doesn’t make logical sense: whatever you’re doing should have no bearing on how others view themselves. But it often does. Most notably among those prone to jealousy or competitiveness or self-doubt.  A scathing review may have more to do with the author’s own issue of self-worth than what you’ve actually done.

Now it’s one thing to receive a cold shoulder or some polite distance or a hurtful review. (Or worse, a mediocre review.  “Meh. It’s okay, I guess”).  These negative reactions can be especially challenging when expressed by someone is close to you. I’ve coached countless DaVincis who have suppressed or avoided talents, lest they overshadow a sibling or parent or spouse. What a sad irony! To miss out on something you love to avoid ‘hurting’ someone you love.

Now some will say — “Hey, if they really love you, they’ll want you to express your talents.” Sure, at some level. But at other — probably subconscious — levels, they may be exuding pain or disappointment in themselves and it’s natural for you to want to spare them that.

For example, you may end up focusing on other skills that the person doesn’t share, so there’s no implicit comparison or inadvertent competition.  One of my clients is very musical but he specifically avoided learning the instrument his older sister played.

So what’s a Triple Threat to do?

1. Be aware.

As a Triple Threat, know that you can irritate or scare others. Be sensitive to your impact on others. Be kind. Avoid trying to impress others. Avoid undue pride, arrogance, or obnoxiousness.

Be prudent in how you share your talents, under what circumstances, with whom. Just as you don’t tell strangers your entire life story, nor does it make sense to blurt out descriptions of your every skill, project, and accomplishment in one fell swoop. Allow different aspects of yourself to be revealed, as makes sense under the circumstances.

Let passion be your motivator, rather than external validation:  Come from a place of ‘This is what I love to do’ instead of ‘Look how good I am at this’.

2.  Recognize what’s happening.

Understand that people are going to respond to your talents in random ways that may have very little to do with you. Their reactions might be more indicative of their own self-worth or comfort in their own skin or even the kind of day they’ve had.

3.  Savor the positive.

When you do receive true appreciation or support for your talents, be grateful.  It’s rare.

4. Minimize the negative.

Haters gonna hate. Trolls are gonna troll. Jealous people are gonna be jealous. Competitive people are going to see gauntlets everywhere they look.  There is NOTHING you can do to prevent these reactions.  What you CAN do is minimize the impact they have on you.

Is there any worthwhile kernel of helpful feedback in what they are saying? If so, accept it. If not, put it aside and move on.

5. Involve people you care about.

If you are experiencing a negative reaction from someone important to you, see if there’s a way to comfortably involve them in what you’re doing. Does it make sense to ask for their input? Is there some role they can play? Is there a way they can contribute to your endeavors? Alas, this isn’t always possible but when it is, proven way to transform negative vibes into something much more positive. Maybe even helpful.

One challenge of being a DaVinci is finding ways to share your talents comfortably with others — and managing negative reactions when they arise.  What’s worked well for you in the past? What hasn’t? What else might you try going forward? How can you use your creativity to devise new ways to manage the ‘threat’ that sometimes comes with being a ‘triple threat’?


For more, check out my workbook: SELF-WORTH ESSENTIALS:  A Workbook to Understand Yourself, Accept Yourself, Like Yourself, Respect Yourself, Be Confident, Enjoy Yourself, and Love Yourself.




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Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The DaVinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at .

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Pulsifer November 6, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Yeah, I notice I have to soft-pedal on some things around others so I don’t come off as scary, arrogant or even more dysfunctional than I probably am. Gets tricky sometimes.

Curious here. I’m not a fan of compartmentalizing my life (musician to this crowd, fiction writer to that crowd etc.) but is it necessary? Advisable?

Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. November 6, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Hi Eric,

Sometimes compartmentalizing is helpful and advisable and sometimes, it isn’t necessary. It depends on the situation and people involved. Sounds like you’re pretty self-aware already so do what your gut says.


Lisa Rothstein November 6, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Hi Eric, it’s really up to you. I know a guy who announces himself as a multi-hyphnate everywhere he goes and lists all of his different roles. It’s such a long list it’s actually funny and interesting. On the other hand, if you are looking to “brand” yourself in a specific area or get someone to hire you for something specific, it helps to have different hats you can swap out as needed. There was one year when I had five different business cards I used on different occasions! It’s not so much about ego (“what will they think of me?”) as about making it easy for people to relate and connect to the aspects of you that are most meaningful to them. Make sense?

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