Who We Are
WHEN PROFILING BECOMES UNHELPFUL
Nothing like a bunch of writing class students to show you no matter what age, no matter what life you come from, core projects move you regardless of your personality.
“I am a DC, how about you?”
“Hmm, I don’t remember but I seem to be SC?”
People in the know will immediately understand that the conversation is all about the DISC personality profiling test. Simply, you take a test and see how high your levels are of the following: D is for dominance, I for influence, S for steadiness and C for conscientiousness. I took this test years ago for college and I really can’t remember my results today.
This used to be the most popular profiling method however a few years ago, our whole church got into a totally new way of assessing personalities. We used Gallup’s “Strengths Finder,” which is profiling based on a study of 34 themes that pretty much sums up ways that our neurons fire together and determines the way we usually respond or think.
Now these frameworks always come with the claims of improving teamwork. I think they are especially effective when people are aware that their personality results are also two-sided – that they can be both be an advantage or disadvantage, positive or negative, depending on the situation. (Ex. introverts can be most proper at meetings, but not so when they have ideas worth asserting and fail to do so)
However on the opposite side of the coin, some of us become determined or boxed by results we receive in these tests. Introverts tend to stay introverts and extroverts stay as extroverts, and we pride ourselves in being solely the personality we were told to be. I’ve actually observed three ways by which these profiling methods have become misused, and more limiting instead of liberating.
First is when it creates CLICKS.
It is natural, when we find people with similar interests we gravitate toward them. Even more so with those of the same personalities; introverts praise other introverts and I know this because I am one. I can talk about my introversion endlessly with another introvert and I find that if I do not stop myself I will end up limiting my network to a bunch of people who can be most satisfied about not getting out of their rooms at all. Well what do you know, even introverts have clicks, right?
And clicks naturally lead to COMPARISON.
We usually gravitate to people who are much like us because of self-love. Our narcissistic nature wants to praise something in others that reflects much of who we are because this deflects what is truly meant to reaffirm our own worth. And as if this is not enough, we also compare ourselves with those who are very different from us and use this information to prove not only that we are of a good kind, but also, that we are the better kind.
Worst of all, it breeds COMPLACENCY.
I can’t recall how many times I’ve seen someone use “introversion” as an excuse. So many people refuse to attend social gatherings and be self-confessed anti-social geeks because this is what a certain personality test says about them. I know this because again, I am guilty of it, too. I don’t know how many times I’ve played the “I’m just not wired that way” card in my life, especially when I am faced with situations that take me out of my comfort zone. Now to tell you the truth, I regret it. And here’s why:
Because I realized that instead of clicks, we should be pursuing COMPLEMENTS. Once someone my husband and me that “Different does not mean wrong.” 5 + 5 = 10, but so is 6 + 4. I’m an introvert, and my husband is an extrovert. I am a dreamer, my husband is an executor. A lot of my thoughts come to life because my husband is someone who wants to see the actual thing play outside of my head. A lot of my dreams come to pass precisely because my husband is not exactly like me. There are many ways to be compatible, through similarities, yes, but also through differences. Let’s thank God for complements and avoid going for unhelpful clicks.
Also, there is much to be done in this world and it would take all kinds to accomplish a task as great as this – both thinkers and doers, both introverts and extroverts alike. So what we need isn’t comparison but COMPANY. No on is ever able to change the world alone. Even discoverers would not have changed much of who we are if teachers didn’t profess their ideas in schools. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3); “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).
Lastly, self-knowledge that leads to complacency is a sad affair because that means to know thyself so well but fail to grow further. Evidence of life is in the aging, the moving, the CHANGING. Fullness of our existence cannot be attained if we get stuck on these personality tests saying who we are today and extend them to forever. That would be a terrible mistake. I will never know the beauty of a rose if she stays as a bud for the rest of her life.
To try to close this entry I’d like to quote Professor Brian Little, a psychologist who specializes in the personality department, and who spoke at the TED Talks recently. This is pretty lengthy but I promise you, this is worth your time. Spare a few minutes and read what he said.
Now is this something that we should be heedful of? Of course. It’s important that we know this. Is that all we are? Are we just a bunch of traits? No, we’re not. Remember, you’re like some other people and like no other person. How about that idiosyncratic you? As Elizabeth or as George, you may share your extroversion or your neuroticism. But are there some distinctively Elizabethan features of your behavior, or Georgian of yours, that make us understand you better than just a bunch of traits? That make us love you? Not just because you’re a certain type of person.
I’m uncomfortable putting people in pigeonholes. I don’t even think pigeons belong in pigeonholes. So what is it that makes us different? It’s the doings that we have in our life — the personal projects. You have a personal project right now, but nobody may know it here. It relates to your kid — you’ve been back three times to the hospital, and they still don’t know what’s wrong. Or it could be your mom. And you’d been acting out of character. These are free traits. You’re very agreeable, but you act disagreeably in order to break down those barriers of administrative torpor in the hospital, to get something for your mom or your child.
What are these free traits? They’re where we enact a script in order to advance a core project in our lives. And they are what matters. Don’t ask people what type you are; ask them, “What are your core projects in your life?” And we enact those free traits. I’m an introvert, but I have a core project, which is to profess. I’m a professor. And I adore my students, and I adore my field. And I can’t wait to tell them about what’s new, what’s exciting, what I can’t wait to tell them about. And so I act in an extroverted way, because at eight in the morning, the students need a little bit of humor, a little bit of engagement to keep them going in arduous days of study. (You may watch the whole video at the very bottom of this page. Just scroll down.)
I am an introvert, believe it or not. For all my life as a celebrity I hated to say hello and kiss strangers because I am a very private person. But because it was my profession and I wanted to serve people with my talents, I showed up at every shoot as though I am everyone’s friend, kissing them on their cheeks, giving remarks here and there and sharing my whole heart with all if that is what it takes to fulfill my core project.
Moreover, as a Christian whose corest of all core projects is to honor God, I choose to be moved by His help, His might, His grace, His mercy. Whenever people ask me what my top strengths are, I tell them this and that but above all, that I have the Holy Spirit. That is, in Him I can do all things, I can be all things, be the person that God is calling me to be, even when my profile results say otherwise.
How about you, do you mind telling me the core project of your life, which moves you beyond the traits you’ve been branded from those personality tests?
Well right now, I am preparing myself to become a person who could and would counsel (both biblically and legally) those people who are abused. I am a talker,and/ or conversationalist. But for the most part i do the talking. Like I love to talk and share my ideas and opinions but in counseling these people I know that the trait that would be most of help is to be a good listener. So right now, I am practicing to listen to others. Just patiently listen to what they want to say. Or if I would talk I would ask questions in order for them to be encouraged to talk. And I do that as I lead our vg and do my devotional. ^_^
Hi Ate Carla, I took the personality test (I’m ID) when I was in college and the Strengths Finder just recently. (My result: Positivity, Activator, Communication, Input, Achiever) Based on the result, it says that I am an extrovert person who makes me a people oriented and outgoing person. Even when I was a kid I’m talkative. I always want to be heard in my opinions, in my preferences and all that I want, I always want to speak up. I don’t find it hard to talk to people even with strangers. I don’t want to be far away from the crowd. I love to stand on stage and entertain. So unknowingly, being that kind, I am very upfront with my harsh thoughts towards something makes me hurt other people and tend me to be selfish for attention.
But as I grow older, there were changes that I noticed nowadays. I find myself now being refreshed to be alone having thoughts and reflection about life and setting my priorities and all that I want to do compare before that I don’t want to be left alone. Sometimes, commuting alone going home is more fun now because I get myself busy thinking of ideas I want to do and achieve. I am happy now spending my time just reading alone without interruption which I don’t do at all before because it’s really uninteresting. Not because I’m a lonely person and I don’t have friends now ha-ha! I just learned that sometimes being far away from the crowd makes me more attentive on hearing God on what He wants to say to me. When having a conversation with a friend, I love to listen more rather than be in a hurry to be heard all the time. I learned now to lend my ears quickly to the person who is talking and being slow to speak with my opinions. I also use my being “talkative” to encourage other people now and pass on my positivity towards achieving the goal when in the group task. Those are just a few things which I think not consistent when personality test result is being used to justify who we are. So in my speech, I will honor God through adding value in lives of the people He placed in my life which I think my core project in life.
I believe that every day we are being changed and our steps are being redirected towards the improvement that God wants us to have.
Sorry, I am quite chatty here ate! hahaha
Hi Carla! What a timely post. It’s actually been a few weeks since I’ve started reflecting upon my personality type.
My core project is to learn and share my knowledge. I have always been considered an extrovert and even won impromptu speech contests with that trait. But as I grew older, I realized that to be able to learn faster and more efficiently one has to adapt some characteristics of an introvert. This helped me tame my “bulabog” (messy) thoughts and thus put order in my life in general.
It is also while putting on the “introvert hat” (for lack of a better term) when I reconnected with God. It was a long process with pauses and bumps along the way but that was how it was meant to be, I believe. And now, my core project of learning and sharing is strengthened.
(Come to think of it, this question could be an ideal essay topic! Thanks!)
I meant, “adopt”. Excuse me
Hi Ms. Carla, thank you for this very timely post. All my life I’ve always thought that I’m an extrovert. During my younger years, I was so talkative, loud, I couldn’t manage to shut up. When I was in elementary my teachers would always tell my mom that I’m one of the most talkative in class. Haha. During my high school days, I still am talkative. Whenever there are concerns in class that needs to be addressed, my classmates would always tell me, “Jane, you talk to the Principal”, or sometimes, “Jane, explain!”,because they’ve always believed that I’m good in explaining things. Then college happened, I still am the same extrovert Jane. My classmates would always volunteer me during recitations (yeah, they do that), they’d volunteer me to be an MC during programs/ceremonies. In short talking to people (even those in the higher positions) don’t terrify me at all. But in my season right now, I find it hard to express myself most of the time (and yeah, even right now). I don’t know what happened to the old me. I find it hard to approach the people around me because I’m scared I might get rejected. I’m afraid they might just snub me. So better yet, I’ll not just try to talk to them. I also became a very private person that I don’t usually open up to my friends because again, I’m afraid they might just judge me or they might not understand me. But I realized I was the one who’s being judgmental here just by the thought that my friends would judge me in case I’d open up to them. I just finished college earlier this year and right now I’m staying in Manila for the Board Exam review. It has already been two months since the review has started but I still don’t have friends in the review school. I find it so hard to approach my seatmates because first, I’m shy and second, I’m afraid they might find me istorbo while they are reviewing. Haha. People would always misjudge me as mataray and not approachable because of my “resting-sass face”, but the truth is I’m not naman talaga. Right now, I’ve been enjoying spending quality time with myself. I’ve been enjoying reading (especially your blogs) alone, staying at home even without someone to talk to. I hate going into places full of people because I find it exhausting, well except in church. I wanted to join a Victory Group at Victory U-belt but I’m shy and I don’t know who to approach to. But last night I was inspired with the Introverts & Extroverts Engage Profile by Do Campus Ministry.And I think the core project of my life is to be Jesus’ witness, to make the most of every opportunity preach the gospel to everyone around me and not use my “shyness” and fear of rejection as an excuse not to do it. Omg. Bow. Sorry for my unorganized thoughts. 🙂