Core qualities are characteristics that belong to the essence or the core of a person. They ‘colour’ a person; it is the specific strength that we immediately think of when we have someone’s in mind. Examples of qualities are caring, diligence, orderliness, decisiveness, receptivity, empathy, and so on. There are hundreds of them. Some of them are so specific to you that you could call them core qualities. With our core qualities, we express who we are. Core qualities are not primarily behaviors, but rather possibilities that one can be attuned to. Just as the quality of sound on the radio is partly determined by the precision with which it is tuned to the right wavelength, so can one also become more inspiring when he is tuned to his own core qualities. Just as the power of the amplifier influences the final sound quality, so too is the creative power of man also decisive for the effect he has on his environment.
A core quality can be recognized by someone’s special ability about which he himself says: “Surely everyone can do that!” But not everyone can do that. In fact, if you were to remove this core quality, you wouldn’t even recognize this person anymore. That’s because that one core quality permeates or radiates through all the other, less pronounced qualities.
A core quality is always potentially present. You can’t just turn a core quality on or off, though you can hide it or keep it dormant.
The difference between qualities and skills lies mainly in the fact that qualities come from the inside and skills are taught from the outside. In English, it’s about the difference between ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’. Skills are ‘nurture’, nurtured, or learned, core qualities are ‘nature’, innate, and developable. The clearer the image we have of our core qualities, the more conscious we can let them shine through in our lives. Those who have ‘perseverance’ as their core quality, for example, know that they will be able to function well, especially in situations where a long period of time is needed. And they also know that this persistence is something they will always be able to do, both at work and in their private life. Whether they will do so in their private life is another matter. Everyone was born with a number of core qualities, but that’s not all, because as a logical consequence of each core quality, you automatically receive three more gifts. The first is your pitfall, the second your challenge, and the third your allergy.
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Just as there can be no light without darkness, every core quality has a sunny and a shady side. The shadow side could also be called the distortion. The distortion is not the opposite of the core quality, like how active is the opposite of passive and strong is the opposite of weak. The distortion is a core quality that is taken too far and overshoots the mark.
For example, the core quality ‘flexibility’ can turn into ‘fickleness’. When this happens, the power of a person becomes their weakness. This is popularly referred to as ‘too much of a good thing’ and that is exactly what it expresses. Someone who is too careful runs the risk of becoming fussy. In the same way, helpfulness can be taken too wich then becomes experienced as meddling. This will sometimes be thrown at the person as an accusation. The distortion of one’s core quality is one’s ‘pitfall’. The pitfall is that which is often labeled as such. For example, a person with the quality ‘decisiveness’ may be accused of being pushy. Whether this is justified or not, the pitfall is simply part of the core quality. They are inextricably linked, so consider it as a gift.
With the associated pitfall, one also finds their ‘challenge’ when it comes to their core quality. This is the second gift, as it were. The challenge is the positive opposite quality of the pitfall. The positive opposite quality of being pushy, for example, is something like patience or restraint. In other words, the pitfall of ‘tightness’ necessitates the challenge of ‘patience’. As the figure shows, the core quality and the challenge are always complementary qualities. What matters is to find a balance between flexibility and consistency. When this balance tilts too far towards flexibility, there is a chance that this flexibility will turn into fickleness. In other words, in order to avoid falling into one’s pitfall, it is advisable for one to develop the challenge.
Usually, a person’s pitfall is a source of conflicts, irritations, and tensions that the person has with their environment. This is especially true if the pitfall also turns out to be someone else’s allergy. The problem is that the average person turns out to be allergic to too much of their challenge, especially if they find it in another person. For example, the energetic person will have a tendency to freak out when confronted with passivity in another person. They are allergic to passivity. If you look closely, you can see that this is because passivity is too much of his challenge (= patience). He often doesn’t know what to do with it.
The more you are confronted with your own allergy in another person, the more likely it is that you will fall into your pitfall. The person with the core quality of ‘decisiveness’ then runs the risk of acting even pushier, while he or she accuses the other person of being passive, and so on. In other words: if you encounter your allergy in another person, your pitfall is lurking. So what makes a person most vulnerable is not their pitfall, but their allergy, because it is mainly the allergy that makes a person fall into their pitfall.
The formulation of the allergy completes the core quadrant. In the core quadrant, the connection between your quality, pitfall, challenge, and allergy quickly becomes clear.
”The beauty of the model is that you can grasp the concept of Core Quadrants in five minutes and yet it can keep you busy for the rest of your life.” – Daniel Ofman –