The Results Are In...
Have you ever taken a personality test? I have, oh, have I ever.
In fact, I've completed the Myers-Briggs, 360 multi-raters, the DiSC, Career Anchors and a handful of other standardized assessments that are supposed to give you insight into how you act and what career for which you are most well suited. I've done them in my personal life and in my work life.
The secret hope of all who take these tests, of their own accord, is that the test will produce some magical insight into their unique gifts, thereby illuminating their path to fulfillment and success. Spoiler alert: NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Most people find the prospect of putting guardrails on their dreams an overwhelming prospect in light of the nearly infinite possibilities, so if one of these tests can help narrow down the options then that sure would be helpful.
The secret is that although these tests are billed as helpful, if you don't watch out they can entrap you in a self-fulfilling prophecy that only further masks the path to your version of success. They will keep you focused on who you've been, not who you're going to become.
Kiss 99.9% of these tests goodbye and keep it simple stupid! As with most things in life, the best frameworks are those that are easy to use and thus can be applied in the real world. If you overcomplicate things then you make it more difficult for yourself to act. With that in mind, I decided to retake the DiSC personality assessment just yesterday evening. The DiSC is a quick, approximately 20 question test that takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Simple? Check. (There is a trade-off in specificity for the time savings, but the resulting actionability more than compensates.)
Drumroll please... I scored as an "Implementing Analyzer" with the following breakdown:
- D - Dominance: 56
- i - Influence: 62
- S - Steadiness: 14
- C - Conscientiousness: 81
Bottom Line: "...described as careful, cautious, systematic, diplomatic, accurate and tactful... may be limited by being overcritical, overanalyzing and isolating themselves... may fear criticism and being wrong."
Looking at those results in a vacuum is not helpful, so it's essential that they be mapped to my particular goals. For context, it's important that you know I am an ambitious person. My version of success has me putting a sizable dent in the universe, a dent that does good and has 000s on it. One thing dreams of that size can't afford is fear of failure or inaction due to analysis paralysis.
Since I skew towards analysis and perfectionism, I've always found it difficult to get off the blocks with respect to my dream. I've been gathering information and knowledge like crazy, thinking that I would arrive at a moment when I could be certain of not only the end goal, but the path to get there. Ohhhhhhhhhh Yeeeeeeeeessssssssssss, as if reading any number of books or taking any number of classes would make me omnipotent and infallible. Even more to the point, we learn most effectively by doing, so sitting around on my couch thinking about maybe, potentially, someday doing something got me nothing but some spare change I found in between the cushions.
As a "high C" in DiSC terminology, it's EASY for fear to crop up in my mind in the face of the unknown. It's EASY for my magnifying mind to zero in and blow that fear up into an insurmountable obstacle. It's EASY as a perfectionist to see an insurmountable obstacle and sabotage my own dreams by never getting started.
However, and here's the key: personality tests are only useful if you see them as a point in time piece of information. They are the balance sheet of your relational ability, a snapshot in time that taken in isolation is not actionable, and in fact can be paralyzing. To use the results properly you need to put the results in context:
- What characteristics do people that succeed as you want to exhibit in their actions?
- How are their personalities different than your own?
- How can you close the gap to help ensure success?
- Are you willing to make the tradeoffs associated with that kind of change?
- Are you willing to structure experiences that push you outside of your comfort zone to cement those changes?
As humans we have free-will and with it comes the ability to change drastically over the course of our lives, even if a relatively low percentage choose to employ the requisite courage. If you've got a dream then go for it, and realize that you need to overcome your at-present weaknesses along the way to raise your chances of success.
Taking a simple test like the DiSC can summarize how you're currently operating with other people and decisions, which can alert you to blindspots and help you to improve how you lead. For instance, I aspire to be an entrepreneur who builds great products that help people improve their lives in meaningful ways. If I am afraid to act in the face of ambiguity out of a fear of failure I will never succeed. Guaranteed. So does a "high C" mean that I am not going to be an entrepreneur? NOPE. Knowing that I scored as a "high C" on Saturday April 11, 2015 enables me to course correct so I can develop my "D" and "I" muscles that are crucial to engendering results and the help of others.
That result means that I need to act consciously to modify my behavior over time so that I can succeed. So how do I begin? If my problem is getting off the starting line then what bold action can I take to shock my system into a new paradigm? START SOMETHING NOW. Instead of finding my life's purpose in someone else's words, I've decided that I am going to live with purpose and write my own words.
So I've begun taking the first step by writing this simple blog post. This blog is meant to be a place where ideas can be freed from the mind and be given room to grow, to interact in the world with other ideas, and to become... who knows. Thank you for your support as I take this first step towards the future that I crave, by focusing and acting in the present moment in spite of my to-date tendencies.
What are you waiting for? Take the DiSC for yourself, use the results as a point in time indicator and start taking action to close the gap to your dream by changing your behavior! There's a free version that can you give you a taste at DiscPersonalityTesting.com. Let me know what actions you're going to take as a result of what you learn.