Just my type

Have you ever taken a personality test?

jmtimage via dude&chick

In high school religion class, we did the Enneagram assessment (I’m pretty sure this was our textbook) and I was a #4 with a lot of #3, which our book described as a Romantic/Individualist & Achiever. (Surprise!)

It was part of a segment on self-actualization. I think it was one of the first times I thought about perspective, and acknowledged that I  filter experiences differently than lots of the people around me – especially since #4 was a rarity in my class.

This past week, I was able to take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment through work. It was creepy spot-on. My “type” is described as ENFP (Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving). According to the rosy report description, ENFPs are enthusiastic innovators who have lots of imagination and initiative but sometimes abandon projects if something more interesting comes along. (It’s like they peeked into my craft area!) ENFPs are concerned about other peoples needs and aspirations and others count on them to solve problems.

It was especially illuminating to see how certain facets of my personality contrast, like the Dr. Jekyll to my Mrs. Hyde. On the one hand, the tool described me as “abstract,” “imaginative,” “theoretical,” “compassionate,” “tender” and “emergent.” But I swing the other way in a few areas and am “questioning,” “critical” and “planful.” Given that, I can definitely see how some people who might meet me in a more social setting would think of me as goofy and free-spirited, but then be surprised by my slightly more hard-nosed approach in the professional realm. And sometimes I’m sure I can be questioning and imaginative in the same breath.

Knowledge is power, people. I wasn’t able to make it to the workshop where they helped us unpack out assessment, but they sent me a summary report that included my results alongside suggestions on how to tweak my interactions to better relate with others. A few examples:

Want to ask questions. / Try to be selective in choosing questions to ask soas not to intimidate people.

Say whatever is on your mind to anyone who will listen. / Instead, recognize when it’s important not to say what’s on your mind and then don’t say it.

Want people affected by the changes treated with kindness and consideration./
In the future, decide how much insensitivity you can tolerate and act accordingly

I’ve been out of college longer than I was in, and I’ve been trying to take time for feedback and introspection to become a better teammate and leader. Grad school and working with our dedicated YNPN Des Moines inaugural board have definitely given me the opportunity to experiment, which is the cool thing about “getting involved” outside of work. (The bad thing is never being home in the evenings, which I’m trying to scale back on.)

So, do you know your type? Do you have ideas for what to do with this knowledge? Or do you bristle at the thought of being labeled as a certain type?

I’m a huge nerd and really got into Harvard Business Review articles as a result of assigned readings for my leadership class. They were surprisingly un-stuffy and applicable.

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