Some thoughts on personality assessments

I’ve come to enjoy seeing people discover more about their strengths and love coaching them in how their strengths make them a better leader if they would stop trying to fix their weaknesses and simply focus on what makes them great. To see people value their uniqueness where they once thought poorly of themselves is a fulfilling thing.

But, as a self-identified “assessment-junkie,” I need to express a few caveats.

One assessment doesn’t tell the whole story

There is value in submitting to multiple assessments. I have done this, and for the most part, they paint the same picture, albeit from different angles. But, trying to understand yourself through only one assessment is like assuming you “get” your spouse after one date.

Case in point – Two of the people with whom I work, along with me, have taken the “StandOut” test from Marcus Buckingham. We all three scored the same in our top two strength Roles – Equalizer/Creator. We all thought it was accurate in its descriptions. Yet, we couldn’t be more different in other ways. One is a “High-I” (DiSC) and talented in Influencer strengths in the Clifton. The other is a “Screaming-High-D” and an Executor. I’m a “High-C” and a Strategic Thinker.

So, it’s always best to carefully read the reports that normally accompany your results and make note of which descriptors fit you and which don’t. Not every Type 3 (Enneagram) is built the same.

Your type is not you

As I mentioned in the previous post, there can be a tendency to identify yourself by a category of an assessment. I did it myself just two paragraphs ago. But understand this. That’s just a shorthand way of speaking. It’s not you.

If you are prone to thinking, “I am a 5,” (in Enneagram terms) in the same way that you might say, “I am a redhead,” well, let’s just say it doesn’t work that way. Your “type,” regardless of which test we are talking about, is more of an adjective than a noun. Meaning, types are simply collections of descriptive character traits that you may display. It’s not some genetic trait. You are not imprisoned by your type.

In the Clifton Strengths, my dead last theme is Competition. This means that if you want to motivate me to produce more by staging a contest, it’s probably not going to move my needle much. However, there are times in my work where I’d better access a little competitive spirit. And though it’s not a strength, it’s not as though I am completely incapable of it. It’s just going to take more work.

So, we can’t use our strengths/weaknesses as an excuse for not doing our job or not doing it well. Your type is not you.

Every strength has a dark side

Any good character trait, if taken to the extreme, can become a force for evil. Well, maybe not evil, but certainly a force that is less than optimum in your leadership. My strategic thinking could paralyze me if I am unable to act.

This is why it’s important to partner with others whose strengths complement your own. A visionary “big picture” person needs to partner with a high-achiever. Your strengths, by themselves, can become weak when you don’t collaborate.

So, yes. Take some assessments. You’ll love the feeling that someone must have been reading your diary. Most importantly, you’ll come to value your unique self. Only be aware of the limitations of a test.

I teach a course which utilizes the DiSC personality assessment. It’s called “Solving the People Puzzle” and is available in faith-based and non-faith-based formats. Please contact me if you are interested in this for your group or organization.

Clearing clutter


by The Organization Man

I’ve been on a crusaSAMSUNGde to reduce the amount of physical clutter in my life.  Like most people, I’ve managed to collect quite a bit of stuff over the years.  Couple that with a major career change some five years ago, and I’ve found myself to have saved many things that I no longer use or need.

Six years ago, I was a teacher.  As such, I collected quite a bit of tools, books, and supplies befitting my trade.  Then, I was no longer a teacher. After all this time, I’m probably not going back to it. So much of my Perfectly Good Stuff (TM) is sitting here taking up space and benefitting no one.

As I’ve gone through this process, I’ve managed to compile some thoughts and observations that you might find enlightening.

There’s a difference between clutter and organization.

You would not find my basement storage area on a typical episode of “American Pickers;” it’s too neat. My stuff is neatly stored in plastic bins and boxes, neatly tucked away on metal shelving of just the right spacing and height. So it’s organized.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not clutter.  Clutter could be defined as any resource that you no longer use and is a drain on other resources. It takes up space. It might represent potential value if you sold it, which would allow you to access other resources if you choose to. If you have to do anything to maintain your clutter, it takes up time.

My organization was a smokescreen to my real problem. I was hoarding. And there’s a good reason for that.

Getting rid of Perfectly Good Stuff (TM) is psychologically hard.

I’ve taken the Strengthsfinder 2.0 assessment.  One of my top 5 strengths is “Input.” This makes me a collector…of ideas, facts, quotations, and even physical objects. All of which I tend to view as having value. So keeping all these possessions quite simply arose from this very real strength in my psyche that sees all things, whether material or immaterial, as potentially useful.

I found myself viscerally torn as I began to choose to part with various pieces of Perfectly Good Stuff (TM). “I could use this!” I found myself saying. I recalled other times when I’d tossed something, only to find that I needed it later. Didn’t want that to happen again.

I had to change my way of thinking. Perfectly Good Stuff (TM) became simply…stuff.

Perhaps the fact that I tended to think of Perfectly Good Stuff (TM) in a “trademark” sort of way led me into this hoarding, protectionist mode. I had to change my way of thinking. Perfectly Good Stuff (TM) became simply…stuff.  Stuff I no longer used or needed.  A friend said it well: it’s not worth the time or energy to keep it.

As I began to part with my stuff, I found…

It becomes self-rewarding to de-clutter. And easier.

The more I chose to part with clutter, the easier it became.  And I began to see the rewards for doing so. Every additional bin that was emptied, every load taken to the dump or to Goodwill, every piece given and received joyfully by someone else who could use it, every “one-man’s-junk-is-another-man’s-treasure” item sold on eBay…each of those occurrences was a feel-good pat on the back for someone who previously felt very conflicted to part with his possessions.

And so, it became easier.  Items that were earlier off-limits were now on the chopping block. “What else?” has become the battle cry. “Please stop giving us stuff!” has become the plea o20180224_213806f my extended family. Where once there was a certain anxiety, there is now peace and joy.

And to the person who bought a 12-year old empty Xbox 360 box from me for $25 (that’s right, just an empty carton!), my bank account thanks you.