Heres a fact: Taking personality tests is addicting. We almost get a rush when we receive the results of our personality type, good or bad, as if there is some mystic on the other end looking into a crystal ball with our future.
Here’s an assumption: Are we so addicted to taking these damn things because of the age-old “know thyself”.
If someone were to walk up to you or I and say “You don’t know yourself”, well that would be insulting as hell, but if that weren’t the truth, what would be the reason for taking a personality test in the first place?
I’m not so sure that we do not know ourselves; we know who we are. I DO think that all of us would benefit from a life of trying to understand ourselves better.
Ask yourself, “Did I behave that way because I wanted to?” Remember nothing about a humans personality was genetic? That’s not what the science says anymore, a lot of our personalities is genetic.
I’m not here to get into all that right now (maybe in a later post) but there is value in understanding ourselves. Do you really think it could do you any harm?
We know who we are, but do we really put the effort into understanding why we are that and how we are that? Ask yourself, what benefits understanding has in your life. Then ask yourself, what benefits might enter my life, my daily interactions with people and my environment if I only understood myself a little better? Tremendous benefit can be derived if know yourself.
Remember when the Meyers-Briggs test was super popular? No, you don’t, because it STILL IS popular, and we cannot remember in the past tense! Over 2.5 million people take this test a year.
It is BY FAR the most popular personality test out. More folks take it than any other test, it as movies, DVDs, shirts, underwear and other popular apparel. There are even websites with information on “Meyers-Briggs” in bed. We love this damn thing so much it takes on a zodiac-like presence in our lives. We literally want to know what our type is like during intercourse!
It is something we have all taken, became excited at the results, and then made it apart of our identity, walking around saying INTJ this and ENFP that. These labels give us the I AM presence in our lives that is missing, that we seek regardless of our admission.
But is it accurate?
The Meyers-Briggs Personality test (MBTI) is actually a self-proclaimed “type indicator”. Stop right there!
Are you a type? Do you feel like a type? A Type is a box, a walled-off prison. So ask yourself, knowing the billions of different variables that go into you making a decision, a single move: Are. You. A. Type? Of course not.
Don’t get me, wrong guys, MBTI is a test produced by people smarter than I, and based on the research of Carl Jung, so there is no bashing being done here.
What I am telling you is that new research comes out and replaces or modifies the old. That’s it.
Meyers-Briggs makes us all types, and we are not all types. End of story.
That and it can be inaccurate based on how you are feeling about the questions. You and I have both had the feeling of taking a test or a survey thinking “I’m not sure so let me just pick the most accurate” OR “It depends, this isn’t a good question”.
Thirdly (Is that a word? Is now), admittedly, it is not as well researched as a test needs to be in order to capture the nuances that our personalities have. In order to be the most accurate, a personality test needs to start basic and then expand. MBTI is expansive at the start and only gets worse.
More info on MBTI: http://www.indiana.edu/~jobtalk/HRMWebsite/hrm/articles/develop/mbti.pdf
The best personality tests describe you in terms of:
- Characteristics that are basic to all humans and that all humans have to some degree
- Present those results as a spectrum, rather than an either / OR scenario
- Allow us to understand those results in terms of our goals, accomplishments, personal success
So what should we be tested for?
Openness: Where are you between being receptive to new in your life and resistant to it?
Conscientiousness: In all areas of your life, are you organized or messy, or in between somewhere?
Extraversion: Where are you mostly situated between seeking to increase and decrease your levels of arousal?
Agreeableness: When related to dealing with others, where do you lie between pleasant and cooperative, and unfriendly and nasty-grinch
Neuroticism: Relative to your inner landscape, does your emotional content gravitate toward positive/uplifting, or negative/depressing.
The above is a very basic, understandable, but not complete representation of these concepts. Let’s look at them relative to our personal success
The biggest predictor of success of all the Big Five qualities.
Looking at the qualities of a highly conscientious person, it is no wonder why they excel in academic and professional arenas.
Being conscientious means you value doing what is right, and what is right is based on objective criteria. Meaning, you understand that taking care of your body is conducive to personal success. A conscientious person is going to learn about it, develop a routine, and stick to that routine until the job is done.
Conscientious behavior means you are constantly making good decisions, taking initiative, making sure that everything you put out is high quality, that your life is organized and that you are making steady progress each day.
However, it is not always valuable to be highly conscientious, even though generally it is seen as a recipe for success. The highly conscientious are great at routine, but not so at improvisation. Whenever the progress needs to be made on-the-fly a highly conscientious person will be uncomfortable and need to adjust.
That’s the thing with understanding ourselves better:
- Where are we on the spectrum and where are others that we interact with?
- Where does our disposition perform optimum, under what circumstances?
- When will we have to adjust our disposition in order to perform successfully?
Is this person trustworthy or not?
An agreeable person is eager to cooperate with what is happening in others’ lives. On the other end of the board, highly disagreeable people don’t even enjoy audience participation.
These people don’t come off as being selfish or nasty. They are there to help. It’s more a matter of motivation rather than outward appearance. You don’t need to look like a school counselor to be highly agreeable.
“Hey, could you help me with my groceries” YES = Agreeable
“Hey, maybe we could go here since we went to your favorite last time” NO = Disagreeable
When we alter our behavior with this understanding, we can understand that being disagreeable hurts our chances of success.
It is not always appropriate to be agreeable, however and is necessary to balance with an appropriate amount of disagreeable behavior.
When someone is disagreeable, they are also assertive, straightforward and have standards, which is necessary when you are in charge of a group. Saying no is a valuable skill when being productive and understanding when to cooperative and when to have it your way is essential.
Like many things in life, it’s a counterbalancing act:
- Learn the benefits of disagreeable behavior, you are not here to live your life for others exclusively
- Learn the benefits of an agreeable behavior, you are not here to be Ebenezer Scrooge exclusively.
- Understand what the desired outcomes are for any situation, then apply the appropriate behavior.
- Where are you? Who are you with? What are the goals of the interaction? Are you there to have a good time (agreeable) OR are you trying to win the cup (leadership)
Must be handled properly if we are to live mentally and emotionally healthy lives
Our level of neuroticism causes us to perceive threats in our environment. If you are highly neurotic, you perceive a threat in even benign situations, and if you have low levels of neuroticism you have no cares and no worries.
Both extremes are dangerous, as there are threats that exist (in the case of low levels) but not every circumstance is threatening (in the case of high levels).
There are biological reasons for this (either low or hyperactivity in the amygdala part of the brain) and they once served a purpose, however, we are no longer being chased by saber-tooth tigers.
You need your neuroticism to work when you are traveling in a distant country that might be notorious for pirating or if you are around dangerous animals. You do not need it when you are on stage giving a speech. So here we can link this quality with abnormal fears and how we are to function in society while pursuing our personal success.
It is said that the only natural fears humans have are the fear of falling and the fear of being eaten; all other fears are unnecessary, called abnormal fears.
Our brains have not evolved in half a million years; the hardware is extremely outdated. Relative to society that adapts momentarily, we can understand that our brain needs some overseeing when it comes to it controlling our behavior.
When you walk on stage to give a speech you think of a few things:
- These people are watching my every move
- Some of them are smarter than me
- I’m not very practiced and could mess up
- They might think I’m stupid or laugh at me
- They won’t take me seriously after that and my career could be ruined
These are abnormal fears: An initial thought occurs in the mind due to varying levels of neuroticism, more thoughts occur until the imagination has completely taken hold and at the end of the trip the physiological changes of fear are present in the body…over nothing.
In fact, it is possible that all of those aforementioned scenarios could happen, and the fear would STILL be unjustified because fear is the bodies response to danger, a danger that will ultimately lead to death if not reacted to.
None of those scenarios equal death so the fear is unjustified. Not to mention, this kind of abnormality in our lives can destroy our confidence, which we know, is an essential ingredient to any kind of success in life.
Neuroticism can make one perceive movements made by others as malicious, when not. It can lead a person to believe that perceived threats are actual threats, coupled with the imagination can create threatening realities that do not exist.
Understanding the difference between reality and the activities of your brain:
- How is this behavior perceived by others? (if you have high levels of neuroticism, the perception of others is helpful) Ask them what they think about a situation
- Know that the more you lean toward high levels, the more trouble you will have trusting, interacting and understanding others behavior.
- Each time you have a fear or perceive something as dangerous, let your logic and rational faculties kick in to dissect the situation. Do not let your reactions be based on brain activity alone. Think and respond.
These last two are straightforward. We’ll make them short.
How open are you to new experiences? How receptive are you to new ideas? Do you stick to the same routine each day because you want to, or because you’re not mentally prepared for new input?
Openness is much about where you lie between challenging and maintaining the status quo.
Since experimentation is a HUGE part of attaining personal success, you will need to adjust accordingly:
- When the time comes to pivot in business
- When you are experimenting with what you can offer relative to the market
- When you’re on your destiny sojourn and the wind takes you someplace else
You need to be able to take a new direction when life presents that opportunity for you. It also means being open to the idea that beliefs you held could be wrong or no longer applicable. So when you find yourself resisting change in any way, or being too rigid, understand that you might be right, but you might also need to be a little flexible.
What are my tendencies and which environments am I suited for?
Here’s a quote I learned at the monastery: “Find an environment suitable for your success and tolerate anything that comes”, of course, this was given in a spiritual context, but it is applicable to all atmospheres.
So many of us do not understand what to tolerate and what to reject. We think that if something is not exhilarating every moment if it gets boring for even a second, we should move on. WRONG.
Even in paradise, you will tolerate the heat, cold, wind and rain. These are brain things. Understanding the difference between you and your brain activity is essential (broken record).
When I was in Costa Rica, everything was amazing. Then the monsoon rains came and destroyed half the mountain. Then the howler monkeys would wake me up earlier than I liked. After that, the snakes and tarantulas started creeping into my cabin. Even in the best environments, you must tolerate what needs to be tolerated.
Extraversion and Introversion here, are genetic in that our brains are wired a certain way. You are not a person who is quiet and shy or one who is a go-getter and boisterous. You are a person whose brain is wired such that you prefer to reduce external stimulus or increase it. Period.
In my own life, and in yours as well I’m certain, productivity is the place where these pop up most often:
- Are you an introvert in a loud calamitous environment trying to be productive? Good luck. Change that and notice the difference.
- Are you an extrovert who is at your computer blogging all day and never goes out to connect and network?
- Do not neglect to understand how you function, and how you perform best.
- OR perhaps you’re an ambivert who can do both. Make sure you remain balanced and understand your needs. You may need an introverted work environment and an extroverted social life. Figure these things out and watch your performance change drastically!
DID YOU ENJOY THIS POST?
I created a little something that teaches you exactly what you need to dive into a life of personal success, independence, and fulfillment. Simply enter your information below and I’ll send it to you immediately. AND REMEMBER if this helped you, it will help someone else too. Thank you for sharing with your friends and family!