Saturday, January 22, 2011

To Know Thyself

"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self. " - Benjamin Franklin

"This above all; to thine own self be true." - William Shakespeare

"Friendship with one’s self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self." - Napoleon Hill

"Every human has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change." - Stephen Covey

What do all these great quotes have in common? They all acknowledge the importance of knowing yourself. I have recognized the importance of knowing myself for a long time, and I am sure that throughout my childhood it was imparted upon me in one way or another. In fact a big reason I started blogging was to truly challenge my beliefs and to reflect upon where I am and more importantly who I am.

The other day I took a Myers-Briggs Test Workshop for Choosing and Changing Careers. The premise of the workshop was to learn more about your personality preferences and to leverage that enhanced knowledge of yourself to find a career you truly love. Although the workshop had a career slant I think going through such a workshop is just as applicable to many other facets of life as well.

Here are a few things I took away from the workshop:

1. I went into the workshop with a fairly good self awareness. That was reassuring. I think the combination of my team sports background, military background, and conscious attempts (blogging, reading, starting a non-profit company etc.) to get to know myself better have paid off. That being said we all are constantly growing and changing so the journey to understand yourself is just that; a journey, not a destination.

2. Your personality is a profile of preferences in the way you respond to outside events. If you are extrovert you can still be introverted in various situations. Being an extrovert simply means that your preference is to respond to different life events as an extrovert does. There is a sliding scale of how strongly you identify with a certain preference.

3. Your personality profile can and does change in different situations. Although my "personal" and "work" self were largely aligned there are some scenarios where my preferences change. For instance, I am more laid back and have a go with the flow attitude in my personal life whereas I appreciate a more solid schedule and organized work environment.

4. Improving your own self awareness allows you to better recognize other peoples personality types and allows you to more effectively interact with different types of people.I couldn't help but analyze where my wife would shake out on the Myers Briggs test. It was pretty enlightening to see that the source of some of our minor disagreements may not be a lack of desire to resolve those disagreements but two differing preferences on how to respond to outside events. A simple example is cleaning the kitchen. My wife notices every crumb where I take more of a holistic view of how the kitchen ties in with the rest of the home's appearance. These are not coincidences. They are living examples of our differing personality profiles. My awareness of this subtle distinction in our preferences will surely make me more sensitive to how she lives her life....and may even improve my counter-wiping ability. Although this is an oversimplified example, it can be applied to relationship management in any scenario.

5. There are a few different facets that would make up my “dream job” that are consistent with my personality profile. I must be in a creative, team environment that is very collaborative in nature. Not surprisingly this ties in very nicely with things I have been passionate about in my life. Whether it was growing up playing hockey, starting Checking For Charity Corporation, or leading a team of contracting professionals in Iraq I have always thrived and enjoyed these types of environments. My future career should be no different.

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