Mindfulness is a tool that helps me cultivate awareness from within but it is not the only tool I use. Another one that I have found to be powerful has been reading personality assessments.
A meditation teacher once shared with me, “you do not have to listen or agree with all of your thoughts, with practice you learn to observe them”. I understand that personality assessments are not perfect and putting people into boxes is not fair. And I am fine with that. I use it as a signal, not as the Bible or the law.
I was pleasantly surprised after taking the five minute 16personalities quiz, based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and reading the ten page assessment of the type that I tested as. So I did it again. And again.
The assessment felt shockingly accurate and comforting in a strange way. Reading about the many quirks and tendencies that the type I tested as experiences, I immediately began to accept myself more versus continuing to try and change myself.
For example, the personality type I tested as likes to design frameworks as a way to understand concepts. The type goes through a process to deconstruct something into pieces and then puts it back together. This is exactly how I process information. To the point, that if I did not come up with a framework myself, I can have a difficult time understanding the idea.
Next, I asked others on my team to also take the quiz and share with me how they tested. And I encouraged them to read my assessment. Reading about how people on my team approach the world different than me was mind opening. I know at an intellectual level that we are all unique but I have to say that my empathy deepened once I took the time to read the personality types and could relate it back to real life examples I observe in the people I spend dozens of hours each week with. And how different they are than me.
For example, the type I tested as does seek recognition from others. Naturally as I don’t expect recognition, I unconsciously assume others also don’t seek it. Wrong. After reading other personality types from people on my team, I realized that I may not be giving people what they need from me. Awareness of how my tendencies are unique from others has helped me begin to consciously show up differently as a leader.
I also asked past romantic partners what personality type they tested as. A delightful surprise, they all tested the same as each other. And reading the assessment led to a stream of insights and aha moments flowing through my mind. So many unanswered questions and confusing moments cleared up. In the assessment, I could see described specific personality traits that I struggled to understand as they were so different than me. Now I recognize that to be a lack of understanding on my part, not that there was something wrong with them for thinking differently than me.
For example, the personality type I test as is quite structured and organized. Past romantic partners have tested as the opposite. That is likely part of the attraction however my lack of understanding of this difference led to me interpreting their choices in an unfair manner.
I asked my parents to fill it out and for fun, my sister and I tried to guess how they would test as. And we were completely wrong. Now either they did not fill it out accurately or more likely, the way each of us view our parents is significantly different than how they view themselves.
If you have not taken the test, 16personalities.com is a quick five minute free online quiz with detailed descriptions of all types. Take the quiz. Read the assessment of the type you test as. And then encourage those close to you (partner, family, friends, team) to do the same. Read each other’s assessments.
You may be curious about how I tested. INTJ, labeled as The Architect.
A friend recently shared with me how Myers-Briggs came to be. It dates back to World War II. Katharine Cook Briggs was intrigued when she met her daughter’s future husband, Clarence Myers, for the first time. He had a different way of seeing the world and that triggered a 20 year research project to understand personality types. Katharine and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, believed that if people better understood each other, they could work better together and there would be less conflict.
This vision is one I connect with, as a business leader and mindfulness practitioner. It is centered on awareness. Awareness of the self and of others.
As I often say, awareness does not discriminate, which means that I will become as aware of the beauty and the dirt. When it comes to personality assessments, this practice has helped shine a light on traits that are both desirable and less desirable.
With greater awareness comes greater acceptance, and this is why I have become passionate about using this personality indicator to strengthen acceptance of myself and those around me.