Personality styles are varied and there are tons of assessments available to help you discover your personal style. I was first introduced to the idea of different personality styles over 20 years ago in the old Amway business. While I never made much money with the opportunity, that experience introduced me to the world of personal development which forever changed my life for the positive.
My earliest exposure to a system of labeling personalities was through the book “Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer. My biggest take away was that we’re all wired differently and to attempt to communicate to someone not understanding your style or their’s can result in an epic fail.
This is a critical piece that touches every relationship in your life including family, friends, and coworkers. If you don’t understand you or them, you really might as well be speaking a foreign language to each other as that’s how ineffective your communication may be.
Soon after Personality Plus, I was introduced to Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages”. For couples especially, this book is a game changer. Today Chapman offers a whole series of books targeting different groups but at the core, they all come down to understanding your style and others to foster effective and meaningful communication.
My next exposure was to the DISC personality assessment. The first company I ever went to work for in sales used the DISC assessment as a pre-hire tool. Having no coaching whatsoever, I took the test from my heart answering each question as honestly as possible. Unfortunately my results came back negative in terms of what the company typically looks for in a sales rep.
My soon to be sales manager had me retake the assessment this time with a little coaching which produced the desired results. Once he gave me an idea on how to answer the questions to foster their prototypical sales rep, it was not difficult to “cheat” the system for sake of getting hired. However, the second round of results were not a true indication of the real me.
I recently finished the book “Go Put Your Strengths to Work” by Marcus Buckingham. It was a great read and timely for me in this current season of life. One statement he made which proved particularly interesting is that people’s personality styles do not change. They are hard-wired in at a very early age and really never change throughout our lives. He said many people have the mistaken belief that personalities can and do change, however learning new skills as we age does not constitute a change in personality.
At first I didn’t know what to think of his statement and then I remembered my original scores with the DISC assessment. Last year, I attended a sales boot camp in Orlando, Fl where communication styles were part of the curriculum. The trainers were certified DISC specialists and it was very eye-opening to see how powerful the information can be used in a business setting and life in general. As part of the teaching we were all required to take the assessment.
Now being very knowledgeable of the four personality styles taught by DISC, I can easily take the assessment and create any desired profile because I understand which questions drive which results. When I took the assessment last year, I wanted to see my true results and so I took it straight up and honest. It had been 22 years since my original assessment and my score was almost identical. For grins, I took a break from writing this post to take the assessment again, from my heart, and my overall style remains constant.
You will notice that my results for the D and I traits from last year to this year are basically the same. The S and C traits actually flipped however the spread is very close. We all have our natural bent however circumstances in our lives can cause us to act in the moment expressing any of the four traits more strongly than at other times. I’m personally in a very different season of life this year versus last so it only makes sense for the subtle change. Overall, I’m pretty much the same person.
So what’s the point of that? Whatever your personality style, it is your True North and you need to live your life being true to yourself. With your personality style comes your strengths and passions. So many people live their lives pretending to be something they’re not. You must avoid against this. Life is too short to live for someone’s else’s agenda.
In our society people tend to focus more on shoring up weaknesses than maximizing strengths. For example, let’s say you brought home a report card as a child with two A’s, two B’s, and a D. Which one would your parents tend to focus on the most? The D of course. Now you may have been able to do better than a D but maybe not if the course was in your area of weakness.
Leadership expert John Maxwell teaches that on a scale of 1 to 10, the most you can increase a strength or weakness is 2-3 points. So if you’re a 2 in public speaking, then no amount of training and effort will ever get you beyond a 5 or “average”. Hint…people don’t pay much for average. But if you’re a 6 in leadership and you raise that to an 8 or 9, companies will line up to hire you.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to ignore your weaknesses. Just don’t beat yourself up over trying to make them substantially better. You will gain a far greater return on your investment of time and energy spent in working to maximize your strengths.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
Stephen Covey said it best with “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
You have to be clear on your communication style and then be skilled in recognizing others before you can ever communicate effectively and therefore “be understood”.
I love the simple saying “you don’t know what you don’t know”. The older I become the more profound this little truth is to me. So if this is your first exposure to personality types in general, I highly encourage you to learn more about your style. It will enrich your communication and ability to deal with people in every area of your life.
Further, if you’ve never taken a strengths assessment, I also encourage you to do so. If you have children, this could be one of the most beneficial things you could ever do for them in helping them find their True North.
My nephew Sean just graduated last May from high school and was planning to join the military. He had been leaning towards the Air Force for years and yet he changed his mind completely and joined the Army.
Why? Because his passion for flying caused him initially to be attracted to the Air Force. It was only after he took a strengths assessment and fully explored all his options with a recruiter that he realized the Army was a much better choice. And now I am proud to say he’s kicking butt in basic training and loving it!
When the late great Billy Graham was asked what was the greatest surprise to him about life, his answer was “The brevity of it”. Life is short and this is not a dress rehearsal. Make the most of your days because they truly go by fast.
Personality Plus by Florence Littauer
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham
Standout by Marcus Buckingham