December is upon us…finally!!! We’ve survived the November elections and returned to normalcy in our daily life: Facebook posts about cooking recipes, pictures of cute kittens, and still wondering why our parents can’t figure out how to use social media. Ahhh, the good ol’ days.
(Ok, so maybe we haven’t returned to those days yet. A guy can dream, right?)
All that aside, if you’re like me at all, December is a month for reflection. It’s a month for celebration – for family – for making memories – but also a time when I look back and how fast the year has gone by. I’ll spend a good amount of time this month reflecting on the success and failures I’ve had in my personal life, as a husband, as a parent, and in business. The goal for the following year is to accentuate those failures while learning to avoid repeating the same successes. Wait a second, that might not be right…
Anyway, as part of this process, I’ll spend a good amount of this reflective time to assess myself. It helps that throughout my time in Corporate America, I’ve probably taken 132 “personality” assessments or “leadership” studies about myself. We all have! At some point, we’ve all whittled down our entire life into 3 or 4 acronyms, symbols, or colors. After all, it’s much easier to tell someone you’re a blue ENTJ than having to explain you’re outgoing and direct ****head. Afterwards, we begin the process of trying to figure out what it means and how we use the information.
But knowing about yourself isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong – it’s important to self-manage your strengths and weaknesses. But I’d argue it’s much MORE important to know about the people around you and how you can work with them most effectively. And too often, that’s the part we forget to reflect upon or the part we neglect altogether in our daily interactions. So I thought it might be good to share a few ideas around what I’ve learned from these various personality tests and how they can be applied:
WHAT YOU SEE ON THE OUTSIDE IS VERY RARELY WHAT THE PERSON NEEDS ON THE INSIDE
I don’t know if you’ve known this about me or not, but apparently, I’m a baby unicorn. Yeah. Sweet, cuddly, and completely a figment of your imagination. Ok, just kidding……slightly. But after all these assessments, I’m in the minority of people who test out as a “what you see is what you get” type of person. For example, I am direct and very open, but I also want and expect the same in return from the people I work with. But to my own surprise, the majority of people are the opposite. Most people show one thing to the outside world, but actually have very different needs or innate behaviors – and often those two things don’t necessarily match each other to the outside world. For example, it’s very common for someone to be perceived as direct, yet inside they are doing everything they can to avoid conflict. Sounds crazy, right? Well actually, it’s not. That’s how most of the people you work with are probably wired – yourself included. So it’s important to not judge a book by its cover and actually spend time getting to know the people you’re working with on a more personal, deep level. It will go a long way towards working together effectively.
SOMETIMES BEING YOURSELF WON’T GET THE JOB DONE
That’s a difficult thing to write. Don’t be yourself? In fact, that’s counter to my own beliefs in life and leadership. The truth is we’ve all heard about emotional intelligence and how knowing yourself could help you navigate certain situations more effectively. I think the same can be said for knowing more about the other people around you. In the same example I used above about being direct and open, it’s one thing to know that about myself. It’s another thing to know how the people I’m interacting with take in information, coaching, or constructive feedback. And the truth is – at times I can’t be my direct and open self. I have to find a way to balance my natural tendencies in a way which is most productive to the outcome we’re seeking.
I’m sure there’s more I’ve learned, but those are some of the takeaways which apply to all of us. The trick is in the application. I’m going to spend some time this month trying to figure out just how to get better at some of these things. That is, if I have time. My Mom just texted me and asked what an Instagram is. This might take a while…