Tag personality

Questions.

When Incubator was in its infancy, I was hesitant to open myself to the “world” and initially restricted its access.  After a few weeks, I decided to remove this “barrier” and it, along with Territories, have remained “open” ever since.

The second tier of openness focused on the books I was reading at the time.  Many were interpersonal in nature and several were admittedly “taboo” in a professional setting, ranging in topics from marriage “counseling”  to personality disorders.  Uncertain whether to include such texts in my published reading list, I consulted two colleagues who suggested that I either remove them completely or bundle them within an “interpersonal” section.

I always found this latter recommendation intriguing; did “bundling” somehow dilute or minimize what I was learning about at the time?  It’s as if this aspect of my life could somehow be packaged neatly in a box to focus greater attention on the “important” aspects of my Internet presence.  What is, of course, ironic is that this “box” was ultimately the catalyst for my electronic presence in the first place.

The third tier of openness focused on posts (essays?) that pushed the boundaries of what an online diary could look like, but never reaching that tipping point.  Or have I?

Now half-way through the book Alone Together, I am forced to reflect on where these online posts are heading and what value they are providing me.

While the “negative” examples focus heavily on the use of Facebook, the “positive” can be perhaps summarized by the following excerpt:

“In thinking about online life, it helps to distinguish between what psychologists call acting out and working through.  In acting out, you take the conflicts you have in the physical real and express them again and again in the virtual.  There is much repetition and little growth. In working through, you use the materials of online life to confront the conflicts of the real and search for new resolutions.

As originally intended, my online experience over the past two and a half years has been about the latter.  But what else is there to work through now?

One could argue that I’ll always have something to work through, and that writing will aid in my ability to successfully navigate through these challenges.  And given my success using this approach, I completely support this claim.

Out of Body Experience.

Earlier this month I was involved in a fairly serious accident while playing basketball at my local gym.  The player, who I actually do not know, went up for a shot and I was unfortunately too close – expecting a rebound opportunity.  Three days ago I had surgery to repair the two facial fractures that had resulted in that unfortunate collision.

In some strange way, time seemed to slow down just milliseconds before the impact occurred.  My mind told me that I was truly in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The resulting impact was perhaps the most pain I’ve experienced to date – and it’s one limit that I would rather not exceed anytime soon.  Immediately following the collision I knew something was truly wrong.  My jaw – actually my entire face – felt like it had shifted.  Something inside my face had moved out of place.

Once I was able to walk off the court, my fears slowly creeped in and by the time I had left the gym I was in tears – not because I was in pain (amazingly), but because I was afraid and very much alone.  Those feelings quickly escalated once I made it to a local medical center to have my injuries looked after.  I was unable to speak to the receptionist and tried desperately to get my feelings stabilized.  Feelings of strength and confidence can be quickly erased when trauma occurs, and this was proof positive of that.

Soon after being looked after and an X-ray taken, I went to the emergency room for a CT scan (computed tomography).  It was here where my mind transitioned into another place – a place where my situation became less about my fears and more about the technologies that would help diagnose my condition.

As I was rolled into the CT unit I focused my attention at the multitude of red lights that scanned over my face and the mechanisms that resided within the clear circular frame.  I listened to the whirring of mechanical servos as the scan progressed and smelled the “magnetic” air that was a surprising byproduct of the procedure.  While others can feel claustrophobic in such a machine, I felt strangely at peace.  I was able to focus my attention outside of myself and into the overall experience.

When the day of surgery arrived, my anxiety was minimal to none.  While I had my family’s support available to me, my mind was again placed outside of myself.  My mind focused on the logistics of the pre-op room, the personalities of the nurses who interacted with me, the IV inserted into my arm, the layering of wavelengths that displayed on the screen above me, and the intermittent alarm when my respiration levels dropped below “normal.”

For some reason, I wanted (needed?) this medical team to remember me as someone who was thankful, cool under pressure and empathetic – qualities that I strive to possess but do not always achieve.  I wanted to build perhaps the most important self-fulfilling prophecy of them all – a prophecy where feelings of positivity and confidence allow for a speedy recovery.

By its very nature, trauma forces the inflicted to slow down and process thoughts with greater intensity and focus.  Slowing down allowed me to step outside of my current reality and find ways to stabilize my emotions in a way that was natural for me.  Being able to find and fabricate a temporal world where I was able to gain some emotional and physiological stability allowed me to gain the strength I needed to move beyond this accident and procedure in a positive and constructive way.

Plus ca change Plus c’est la meme chose

My mom recently shared a few documents from when I was in nursery school and kindergarten many years ago.  These documents essentially provide a glimpse of my behavior and personality at that time.

As I was reading through the narratives, I was intrigued (actually – amazed) on the behavioral similarities between then and now.  In some strange way, these narratives confirm what this multi-year journey has shown me:

Who I believed I was is indeed who I really am.

Nursery School

  • Even tempered, tolerant and friendly, Adrian is well accepted by the group and usually involved with social play most of the morning.  He is willing to try everything and especially enjoys blocks, dramatic play, books and woodworking activities.[2011 Commentary: My professional career and personal interests have spanned numerous and diverse areas, and will likely continue to do so for the remainder of my life.]
  • He has marvelous ideas, but is easily distracted and remains only semi-involved much of the time. [2011 Commentary: Exclusive focus in one particular area is still, and will always be, a challenge.]
  • When approached by adults, Adrian is friendly, spontaneous; responds well to suggestions and directions.  On the whole, he appears to be independent and self-reliant. [2011 Commentary: Perhaps too much so.]
  • Adrian takes pride in whatever he makes in school, e.g. when he does a painting or art activity, he often informs us he is finished and proudly shows us his finished product.  He likes to make constructive things out of the materials e.g. airplanes (out of the nuts and bolts; odd pieces of wood), buildings or boats out of hollow blocks.  He likes to work in a group, rather than on an individual basis.[2011 Commentary: The showcasing of work will always expand, although I do most of my best work when working independently.]
  • Adrian has most of contact with Benjamin and Billy because they also spend a great deal of time in the hollow block corner. [2011 Commentary: Exclusivity in friendship and relationships is still the norm.]
  • If he feels uncomfortable after a disagreement, he usually moves onto a different activity. [2011 Commentary: I don’t like conflict and I tend to focus my energies on something creative or positive when I am able to.  Incubator started with this core personality trait.]
  • He is very capable of expressing his thoughts and feelings through language. He enjoys talking to others about experiences he has or something he has just made. [2011 Commentary: My written ability to share these thoughts is perhaps stronger than my verbal ability although I hope one day this will change.]
  • New situations don’t upset Adrian.  He is flexible and adapts to whatever is taking place in the room.

Kindergarten

  • He is particularly fond of block building and art.  Adrian is also quite creative with materials. [2011 Commentary: Scary! :-)]

If you have similar materials from your childhood, perhaps one day you will go back and take a closer look.  The expression “the more things change, the more they stay the same” may hold true for you as well as it has for me.

The Project Survival Kit

If you were deserted on a stranded island, what three things would you take with you?  While there is no official answer to this question, you could answer this question by identifying the core fundamentals of survival – essentially, food, water and shelter.  If your three things address these needs, you have a good chance of survival.

A similar stance can be said for project management.  All too often, managing a project introduces specific processes, tools, documentation and applications all of which are designed to streamline the act of project management, but may do the complete opposite in enabling true productivity.

I believe that there are three things one needs to have at her/his disposal to accomplish a specific task with a discrete number of resources.  These three things can be thought of as the “project survival kit” – their collective use allows one to “get the job done.

1. Description of the end-state – This 1-2 page document is an expansion of a traditional “scope” statement.  It provides a full picture of the project including artifact creation, team dynamics, communication plans and final deliverables.  The intent is to describe the “ideal” project in sufficient detail before you start working.  Think of it as your “map” to your destination.

2. Team Strengths and Personality Inventory – You have resources at your disposal, but how do you utilize their talents in the best possible way?  Know the strengths and personalities of your team members!  When the relationship is strong, anything is possible.

3. Organizational Chart – If you don’t know how project participants are “linked” to one another, your effectiveness as a project leader will be limited.  In addition, you run the risk of “crosstalk” (redundant and inefficient communication) between project participants which can impede progress.  Also, if there is more than one leader identified on the chart, you have a problem.

So, what am I leaving behind?

You’ll notice that I don’t have a timeline or project plan listed.  While I think a timeline is useful, I don’t think it’s one of the top three.  If you know what you are looking to accomplish, have a good sense of how the team will be organized to deliver this end-state, and their strengths, the project will move forward at it’s most efficient pace; a timeline isn’t going to matter.

I also don’t have risks identified.  Remember, anything can happen.  Even if you list all of the risks you know about, there are plenty of things that you likely don’t.  Spend your time on what’s happening now. If an issue exists, take action.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that you completely eliminate the use of supporting documents or forgo the use of a project plan if it provides a real benefit.

However, by looking at projects with a forward-thinking mindset, I think you’ll be less concerned about timelines, documentation, “CYA” strategies and risks / issues inventories.  Instead, you’ll be utilizing resources whose activities are all designed to achieve the end-state in the most efficient and enjoyable manner possible.

It’s about focusing your attention on the activities that truly matter, and isn’t that what getting things done is all about?

BG | Creating the Strategic Vision – Part I

In my last post, I focused on the importance of having a personal vision for the future.  In the business world, defining what the future entails is typically found within a strategic vision statement.  In this post, I’ll share a five concepts that are helping me define a strategic vision for my design firm.

Concept #1: Strengths

The first step is to start with your strengths.  In the workplace:

… people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general. – Tom Rath, Strengths Finder 2.0

As most people spend a considerable part of their life working, doing what you can to align opportunities with your strengths can significantly increase your quality of life.

As an example, here are my top five strengths as identified in the text Strengths Finder 2.0:

1. Strategic – “.. enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route.”
2. Learner – “.. you will always be drawn to the process of learning.”
3. Individualization – “.. leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person.”
4. Relator – “.. a relationship has value only if it is genuine.”
5. Input – “.. the world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity.”

If I want my business to succeed over the long-term, I need to make sure these strengths represents at key part of its foundation.

Concept #2: Personality

Another major part that plays a key role in a successful business is one’s personality type.  Understanding key facets of one’s personality allows for continuous refinement and increased understanding of one’s behavior and motivators.  The key is to take full advantage of those personality traits that will give direct benefit to the business, and place less emphasis on those that may not.

The core of my personality type (INFP) is sometimes called “The Idealist”.  Thus, coming up with scenarios of possibilities and detailed descriptions of “what could be” comes naturally.  As we’ll see, this aspect of my personality will play a key role in my company’s strategic vision statement.

Concept #3: Interests

Your interests represent another piece of the puzzle.  While it may be obvious what interests you, there are methods that you can use to explore your interests in a more formal way.  One such method is via a deck of “talent” cards made by a company known as Mastery Works.

The core interest areas that I discovered through this method include both “Ideas” and “People”.  More specifically, I was able to narrow down my detailed interests down to ten: (in no particular order, and from a total of 52)

  1. problem solving
  2. questioning
  3. writing
  4. explaining
  5. innovating
  6. developing
  7. strategizing
  8. collaborating
  9. leading
  10. teaching

If you are doing what you are interested in, your skills in these areas will continuously improve, and this will further expand your ability to help your clients and their customers.

Concept #4: Personal Vision Statement

Being able to describe one’s personal vision for the future is a recommended exercise prior to describing a business equal.  Given the time investment required, you want to ensure that there is alignment between the two.  You can read more about this concept in my earlier post.

Concept #5: The 10-Second Summary

The “10-second summary” is perhaps the seed from which the company begins; it’s the first statement you’ll make when introducing yourself to future clients.  After all, what good is a strategic vision if you are not interacting with potential clients?

Based upon the guidance conveyed in Get Clients Now!, the statement should be short and simple enough that a 12-year old can understand.

Here is an example:

My name is Adrian Daniels.  I help business owners and organizations get noticed.  I am a designer focusing in creative strategy and graphic design.  My company name is Big Generator.

This particular statement can be altered to reflect the audience with whom I am speaking.  However, it’s always best to start with the basics and then elaborate.  Your initial goal is to gain understanding and peak interest.

These five concepts represent the key starting points to develop a strategic vision statement.  In my next post I’ll begin exploring several ways of visualizing strategy with the intent of formulating a strategic vision statement that can be used to guide my business development path.

[Note: Posts that begin with the letters “BG” focus on business-development concepts that tie directly to my design firm,  Big Generator.]

Altitude Sickness.

In November of 2006, I decided to climb Mt.Rainier.

Given that I have never climbed a mountain, my first and only concern was ensuring that I was physically strong enough to reach the summit.  Thus, over the subsequent six months I practiced climbing stairs in local arenas, walked for miles in the darkness of winter, and eventually walked thirteen miles with a loaded backpack with forty pounds of weight.  In May of 2007, feeling confident in my physical ability, I packed my gear and headed to Seattle, Washington where I was to meet up with other climbers at the Alpine Ascents office.

I arrived fairly early to the planning session, and given the few climbers who were already there, the relative “intimacy” of the environment helped boost my confidence and comfort level.  Interestingly enough, this level of comfort remained fairly static until three new team members arrived fairly late in the session.  In retrospect, the combination of their collective personality along with the seeming “collapse” of the team dynamic led to a rather abrupt decline in self-confidence.

During the van ride to the mountain, I also noticed that I was becoming somewhat withdrawn from the group.  Being consciously aware of this, I took steps to “return” to my original self and was able to gradually interact with other team members without any problems.  However, it was at the first camp (Camp Muir – elevation 10,188 feet) where things started to become much more challenging for me.  Granted, the physical undertaking to climb ten-thousand feet was both physically and mentally draining, but the real struggle involved not my legs or body, but my mind.  Even though I was with approximately ten other climbers, I felt extremely isolated and alone.

It was only after the climb where I reflected why my primary barrier to reaching the summit on Rainier was not physical, but mental.

A person’s mental state is influenced by a wide range of factors – energy level, family history, personal experiences, etc. – but at it’s core is one’s personality.  Everyone knows fundamentally who they are, but exploring the underlying facets through a formal personality test can further expand one’s awareness of their modes of operation and what they can do to bridge connections with others.  A common and fairly reliable test is known as Myers Briggs, or as it is more commonly known – the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

When I first took the MBTI back in 2000, I was amazed with the results – the correlation to my true personality was striking.  At the time, the test told me that I was of personality type “ISTJ“, which can be explained via the following descriptions:

  • Ways of Gaining Energy: Introversion – You focus on your inner world and get energy through reflecting on information, ideas and concepts.
  • Ways of Taking in Information: Sensing – You notice and trust facts, details and present realities.
  • Ways of Making Decisions: Thinking – You make decisions using logical, objective analysis.
  • Ways of Living in the World: Judging – You prefer to be organized and orderly and to make decisions quickly.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to take the MBTI a second time.  This time my results were actually much different – I was now of personality type “INFP” (Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving).  Interestingly enough, this change in type felt right.

While there is a free test available online, the benefit of taking the official test is that you are provided with an eighteen-page report that provides in-depth analysis of the key facets of your personality as well as tangible suggestions on how to improve your communication style, ability to manage change and conflict, and ability to make decisions.

Not surprisingly, the introversion element of my personality was a key determinant in my discomfort on Rainier.  Fortunately, I can interact with strangers without any difficulty and engage them in decent conversation, but if I don’t have the ability to (eventually) form any true connections with the people I am with, I am going to start to withdraw.  The fact that I was unable to step away from the group on Rainier to replenish my sense of “self” made it all that much more challenging.

I used to think that my inability to rapidly “connect” with strangers was a deficiency that needed to be overcome.  After much self-reflection and research, I no longer believe this.  To be sure, if I felt this was a genuine barrier that needed to be overcome, then I would take immediate steps to expand my personality “container” to better adapt in these types of situations.  However, it’s important to recognize that all personalities are created equal and trying to “fix” a personality trait because it doesn’t “fit” isn’t necessarily the right thing to do.  A personality isn’t something that needs to be “fixed”.

What is the lesson here?  When faced with new challenges, having inventory of your values, strengths and weaknesses are useful tools, but the true foundation of understanding is a keen awareness of your own personality.  If you take steps to explore your personality through formal or freely available personality tests, explore related literature about your personality type, and integrate the suggestions and information into your mode of operation, you will find that your sense of self will be that much greater and you’ll have an enhanced ability to deal with conflict, make important decisions, and communicate with others who have personality types different from your own.