Who Are You? Let's Talk About Personality: Day 15 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH
From Friday 19th January, everyday for 40 days, I will be sharing something each day that has either (1) changed my way of thinking or perspective, (2) helped me get through a challenging period of transition, change or growth, or (3) changed my life for the better. I've called it '40 Days of Growth'. I'd love it if you followed along with me on this journey - contributing what has also helped you to learn, grow and change. And, if I can support you on your own learning journey, please do let me know 😃
Due to becoming injured unexpectedly last week and needing time to recover, I got a few days behind on posting daily. So, I will create a brief series of posts that detail 5 key ways to becoming more self-aware. Because, at the end of the day, knowing yourself is a great thing - you're the person that you spend the most time with. Well, of course, unless you're a conjoined twin... But, let's not go down that rabbit hole here. The next 5 posts will be: 5 days to greater Self-Awareness: Days 15 - 20 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH
This series of posts was inspired by a woman that I met at a friend's birthday party in the weekend who said that her manager told her she "needed to become more self-aware". She seemed totally lost about how to go about doing this. My attempt at answering it included "have you thought of trying reflection, journalling, meditation or asking multiple people for feedback?" After going away and doing a bit of research on what the management and leadership development thought leaders advise people on gaining greater self-awareness it turns out I wasn't far off! Which leads me to....
Who Are You? 5 days to greater Self-Awareness
Day 15 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH
One area of self-knowledge or self-awareness that's useful to build up is knowledge of who you are as an individual. Knowing about your personality is a great start! So, why is it useful to gain knowledge about who we are as individuals? It helps us to understand not only how we're different but also how we are alike, and connected as humans. Importantly, from a professional sense: recruiters and hiring managers value it when candidates have awareness of their personality, how it plays out in the work environment and how they work with others. Alain de Botton, English philosopher and founder of 'The School of Life' also explains its value beautifully:
"Self-knowledge is important for one central reason: because it offers us a route to greater happiness and fulfilment.A lack of self-knowledge leaves you open to accident and mistaken ambitions. Armed with the right sort of self-knowledge, we have a greater chance of avoiding errors in our dealings with others and in the formulation of our life choices." - Alain de Botton, 'Know Yourself' from 'The Book of Life' (online)
What is personality?
Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving (definition adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology). The study of personality focuses on two broad areas: One is understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics, such as sociability or irritability. The other is understanding how the various parts of a person come together as a whole.
In psychology what are the main elements of personality that most psychologists agree upon?
Few psychology theories have as much support as the Robert McCrae PhD's "Big Five" personality traits — the finding that people's personalities can be described by variations across five basic dimensions. These features of personality traits came from data obtained by observing people from FIFTY different cultures! Luckily for us, they make up the memorable acronym OCEAN:
- Openness to new experience,
- Agreeableness and
How can I learn what my personality is?
This is the fun part!! If you're anything like me and you LOVE learning more about yourself, you will get a LOT of value from taking actions on this next part :)
One answer is: by taking psychometric tests! They're not as scary as they sound, trust me. Often they're online tests that you can take where the questions force you to choose between two or more answers. The way that the tests are set up means that, if you answer honestly, you will end up with results written by psychologists who have come to the results from various psychological studies and research.
Perhaps the most commonly known personality tests are based on the Myers-Briggs theories of personality. If you've ever heard people saying "I'm an ENFJ" or "I'm an ISTP" or some over combination of the 8 different letters, you can now count yourself as being in the know! Yay! A fun test that you can do online based on this psychological theory of personality is 16 Personalities. I've put screen-shots below of the 16 different personalities. Look at those cute images! You know that you want to know which one you are now, riiiiiiight?
And another 8 ...
Another answer: by doing self-questionnaires and reflection. Alain de Botton's 'The Book of Life' (an AMAZING online resource) has two great resources to help with this: (1) 'Know Yourself' and (2) 'Self Knowledge Questionnaire'. I HIGHLY recommend checking out his 'The Book of Life' - it's really well written, insightful and thought-provoking. All of that good stuff. It's described as "the 'brain' of The School of Life, a gathering of the best ideas around wisdom and emotional intelligence".
Things to note/know about Online Psychometric Tests
Just in case psychology students or other leadership development professionals are reading this:
- Note that Introverted/Extroverted and Openness to experience are supported by psychological research, but not all aspects of Myers-Briggs are.
- It's a useful tool to take and be able to have conversations with people about how you're different or similar. However, it's important to take your results with a 'grain of salt' - i.e. do not take the results to be law and 100% indicative of who you are. They identify a general TYPE of person and personality - within each type there are different nuances and individual differences.
- Also take into account the effects of nature and nurture and that your personality type may play out differently in different situations and contexts.
- There are chances of your personality evolving over time.
- Some personality traits can be learned and may be emphasised depending on one's context. One such example is the introversion vs extroversion distinction. Extroverted tendencies can be learned. I'm certainly more extroverted in some contexts but underneath it all I'm an introvert that needs time alone at the end of the day and for part of the weekend to recharge. While I love and care for people, I also find too much 'people time' draining and I have to take myself away at times to have a little break and to recharge.
- It's normally advised to undertake a psychometric assessment with a trained professional, like a psychologist or a career counsellor. It's advised because they can answer any questions that you have as you go through the psychometric assessment and because they can give you a proper debrief - explaining the various concepts, results and what is common or unique about them.
- Note that, depending on your mood, your answers may be different to when you're in a different mood. For example, on 16 Personalities, sometimes I come out as an 'extrovert' and other times I come out as an 'introvert'. Sometimes I come across as being more 'perceiving' while other times I am more 'judgmental'. Perhaps I'm an adaptable ambivert??
Questions for you
What tools or psychometric tests have you used to learn more about yourself and your personality? How accurate have they been? How else do you gain greater self-awareness or self-knowledge?
As always, I'd LOVE to hear from you in the comments section below, or feel free to reach out to me directly. I'm pretty social and always happy to have a chat!