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Archive for March, 2010

Listening to Your Inner Voice

Since my last post was agonizingly long for a typical blog posting, I’ll attempt to keep this one shorter and to the point…well, at least to the point anyway.

To continue fleshing out the first five core words, I find word three (Values) to be the trickiest one to nail-down in an objective way. As I mentioned in my previous post, the simple definition of Values is straight forward enough: A set of principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile or desirable.

But I, like everyone else on the planet, have my own ideas as to what qualities, standards, and principles are deemed “worthwhile”.

To me, values fall into two categories; personal, and communal or in other words; wolf, and pack. Pack values are commonly shared values and are deemed important, if not critical, to the survival or well-being of the members at large, while any additional “unique or evolved” personal values of a given wolf assist or drive that wolf’s destiny within the pack. While I’m convinced that there’s no universally accepted minimal set of values that drives everyone, I do believe that there are a select few core values that makes us wolves (assuming of course, that you still buy into the whole premise of this blog: wolves-good!, shepherds, cats, sheep and chickens-not so much!).

I’ve run across a wide variety of opinions on the subject of values over the years. Matter of fact, I recently came across a website that quotes 374 very specific personal values (CLICK HERE TO READ THEM ALL). Now frankly, there are many items on this list that I don’t consider to be “values” as I see them. I personally think of values as a set of deep-seated beliefs that fuel the fire within us. Many of the items on this list seem to me to be more like traits which are the quantitative set of actions that stem from our values. Of course, that’s just my opinion, and I encourage you to view the list and judge for yourself.

If I continue with the premise that values are synonymous with fundamental beliefs, then I can more easily collapse a huge list of potentially desirable “actions” into a few core values that I believe every individual who aspires to be a wolf needs to have. This is not an exhaustive list of personal values, but rather these are the values that each member of the pack needs to resonate with in order to maintain the cohesiveness of the pack. They’re defined IMHO by some of their associated traits, which are by-products (or actions if you prefer) of the belief:

  • Integrity – traits: honesty, openness, trustworthy, ethical, principled, honorable
  • Loyalty – traits: faithfulness, steadfastness, devoted
  • Purposefulness – traits: determined, persistent, resolute, deliberate

I’m convinced that these are the bare minimum beliefs that an individual must embrace in order to be a valued member of a pack (or team, or family). Of course, I may be somewhat jaded due to my own internal personality type…I’m and ENTJ for those of you who prescribe to the MBTI concept (see my previous post for more info on the topic), but I truly believe that these three values span all 16 personality types described by Myers-Briggs and Keirsey.

Going beyond the pack values, there are a wide variety of personal values that help form who we are and what inner voices drive us, and if you’ve taken my suggestion and done some additional research (and maybe even taken a test or two) and uncovered which of the 16 unique personality types most fits you, you will have a better sense of what additional values you deem to be “worthy”. I will not venture into what you should or should not believe in….those choices are for you to discover on your own, so take some time and think about what drives you and ask yourself if you are receiving (or providing) enough value from the values you’re holding on to.

© 2010 John C. Rea and nothingbutwolves.wordpress.com

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Get a cup of coffee, or your caffeinated drink of choice (no alcohol yet please, this will be hard enough to get through sober!). Put the kids to bed; close the door to your office; turn off the TV; or whatever else you need to do to get 20 minutes of uninterrupted “quiet time”, because this is a very long and relatively important post, and I’d like to make sure that you’ve got the time to read it in peace.

To begin the process of teasing apart the things that make us who we are, I’m going to start off with some simple definitions of some very simple words that have very complex implications when they’re applied to people.

The first six core words:

  • Type: The psychological classification of qualitative differences between individuals
  • Temperament: An individual’s consistent and relatively stable pattern of reactions to situations that persists across time and activity
  • Values: A set of principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile or desirable
  • Traits: A relatively stable quantitative set of predispositions to act in a certain way
  • Skills: A set of proficiencies that have been acquired or developed through training or experience
  • Behavior: The actions or reactions of an individual in response to external or internal stimuli

Type and Temperament

For the remainder of this post, I’m going to focus on only the first two of this initial batch of core words because I believe they’re truly the most critical to understanding an individual’s “baseline” (not to mention that this is already going be a very long post!). I’m sure that not everyone shares the view that individuals can be “categorized” by a series of questions regarding their preferences. To those “Doubting Thomases” amongst you, all I can say is that the years of research behind the theories combined with my own personal experiences over the last 30+ years in leadership positions has convinced me that there is a huge amount of merit in this body of knowledge.

Type

In the 1920’s, Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s asserted that individuals could be “typed” by their particular preferences and that we all have basic characteristics that are a fundamental part of who we are.

Since then, two major systems have emerged to “type” individuals. The more popular of the two is the MBTI (Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator) which expands upon Jung’s research. Katherine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Myers, developed a questionnaire about preferences, which was designed to help people determine their personality types. It groups individuals into sixteen types based on their responses to a very specific set of questions. Today, the MBTI is the most widely used psychological instrument in the world, and frankly, many of you may have already been exposed to the “official questionnaire” or a reasonable facsimile of it during your working lives.

The second major system is called The Enneagram whose roots go back many centuries before Jung put his theories together. A Russian mystic and spiritual teacher named Gurdjieff introduced the system in Europe in the 1920’s and it was popularized in the US by Oscar Ichazo in the late 1960’s. This system is represented by a circle containing a nine-pointed “star” with each point identifying a significant personality type.

For my purposes, I’m going to focus only on the MBTI for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a more established and recognized methodology than The Enneagram, and appears to me (IMHO) to be “more accurate” (assuming anything related to predicting human behavior is accurate). Secondly, the MBTI is often used in conjunction with The Enneagram to help with it’s accuracy, so you might as well understand the MBTI first. If you’re curious and want to explore more about The Enneagram, I suggest that you CLICK HERE.

MBTI

The MBTI system identifies four basic dimensions of human personality, each of which deals with an important aspect of life. I won’t be going into the level of detail necessary for you to get the full picture, but I do want you to be aware of the concept at a high-level at this point, and I will suggest some next steps for you at the end of this post.

The preferences are listed in four pairs of opposites:

  • ENERGIZING preferences: EXTRAVERTING (E) and INTROVERTING (I)
    • Individuals who prefer Extraverting get their energy from the outer world of people, activities, and things.
    • Individuals who prefer Introverting get their energy from their inner world of ideas, impressions, and thoughts.
  • INFORMATION GATHERING preferences: SENSING (S) and INTUITING (N)
    • Individuals who prefer Sensing pay attention to information taken in directly through their five senses and focus on what is or what was.
    • Individuals who prefer iNtuiting pay attention to their sixth sense, to hunches and insights, and they focus on what might be.
  • DECIDING preferences: THINKING (T) and FEELING (F)
    • Individuals who prefer Thinking make decisions in a logical and objective way
    • Individuals who prefer Feeling make decisions in a personal, values-oriented way.
  • LIFESTYLE ORIENTATION preferences: JUDGING (J) and PERCEIVING (P)
    • Individuals who prefer Judging tend to live in an organized, planned way.
    • Individuals who prefer Perceiving tend to live in a spontaneous, flexible way.

A preference is an inborn tendency to be, think, or act in a certain way. Over the years, we change and grow, and often appear “different” at various points in our lives, but according to the experts, our basic personality type remains the same.

We will often identify with both preferences in a pair (at least to some degree), but there’s always one that we rely on more often and naturally gravitate toward. Our strongest preference is the one that comes most easily and automatically; its opposite is the one that we struggle with more. No preference is better or worse than it’s opposite. They’re simply different. Each has natural strengths and each has potential weaknesses.

Day-in, day-out, we utilize both our default preferences as well as those less comfortable ones. We don’t however, use them with equal frequency, ease, or success. Although we can use either, we can’t use both at once. When one preference comes into the foreground, the other one falls behind. We can, however, exercise either, IF WE ACTIVELY THINK ABOUT IT, so knowing where we start is important so we can  learn to “exercise our free will” to adapt to situations that are best suited for a “personality type” other than our “default type”

I won’t go into any intimate details about the sixteen different personality types in this post, rather, I’m going to leave that task up to the reader. Instead, I’m going to jump right into a discussion on Temperament (before you start to snore).

Temperament

Temperament can be described as a pattern of characteristic behaviors that reflect an individual’s natural disposition. People of the same temperament have similar core values, and they have many characteristics in common. Since temperament is inborn, and not acquired, a consistency of actions and behaviors can be observed from a very early age, even before the events of life imprint themselves upon an individual.

Temperament defines what we need and value and what we truly hunger for. These needs, values, and desires determine our actions and behaviors. Understanding your temperament can give you a pretty good idea what you or someone you know will do by default, in most situations (most of the time).

The idea that people fall into four basic categories of temperament is not a new concept. Four basic temperaments have been observed over many centuries by people from diverse cultures, and have been given many different names over the years. While Myers and Briggs did not set out to describe temperaments, their description of the sixteen personality types was found to fit neatly into the four historical temperaments which David Keirsey was studying in the late 1970’s.

Understanding the four temperaments as described by Keirsey makes it easier for individuals to comprehend the sixteen personality types as described by the MBTI. The temperament themes provide cluster patterns within the personality types.

Using Myers-Briggs terminology, the four temperament themes are:

  • SJ – Sensing Judging: Duty Seekers – motivated to be responsible in whatever social group they’re in; they value “tradition”
  • SP – Sensing Perceiving: Action Seekers – motivated by a need for freedom and a need to act; they value “living in the moment”
  • NT – iNtuiting Thinking: Knowledge Seekers – motivated by the need for knowledge and competency; they value the “powers of the mind”
  • NF – iNtuiting Feeling: Ideal Seekers – motivated by the need to understand themselves and others; they value “authenticity and integrity”

OK, so now what?

My primary goal of this post was to whet your appetite about wanting to understand your Type and Temperament. Now it’s up to you to roll up your sleeves and “do some homework”. There are plenty of websites that will give you more details on all sixteen Myers-Briggs Personality Types and the Keirsey temperaments associated with them. Do a search and dig out as much additional information as you desire on the whole MBTI process (come on now, no grumbling, you’re a fully empowered wolf, right?…so don’t get lazy on me!). I also strongly encourage you to take one of the many on-line tests available on the web to determine which one of the sixteen personality types most fits you. Some of these on-line tests are “free” and others will require some form of payment (nothing is ever truly free on a free web site, so I’m sure that there will be an ounce or two of flesh that you’ll have to provide to the owner of any of the “free” on-line testing services). If you uncover especially good sites with valuable info or that have “good, free, on-line tests”, or both, put the links into a comment to this post and share them, so that the rest of the readers can be lazier than you are!

I’ll continue to go into more detail on the remaining four initial core words in my next post (still plenty more words and concepts to work through after the initial six as well, so stay tuned!). But in the meantime, remember that establishing your baseline is the cornerstone to allowing you to reach beyond your default preferences. Once you know where you are, it’s easier to change your path toward a new set of loftier goals that can be reached. So now that the caffeine has fully kicked in…start the discovery process to uncover your inner type and temperament to find out where “HERE” is!

© 2010 John C. Rea and nothingbutwolves.wordpress.com

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