The Personality Journey to Success

Our success in life is often limited by our personality. 

What do I mean by this?

We, the adult race, believe that we are the finished product. We have a defined personality. We have a defined way of being. We are built the way we are and it's set. 

Stripping the above back, we are see ourselves as un-changing, un-varying, fixed personalities. 

As you can probably tell from my blogs and my attitude to finance, I like control and structure. I methodically save, invest, budget and spend wisely. I always assumed I was right and I preach this in Wee Scot Finance. This approach is projected into other areas of my life including my career, relationships, hobbies etc.

Everything is methodical and controlled...

When I was at school we did the equivalent of the Myers Briggs test. For those that don't know, the Myers Briggs test is a questionnaire which an individual completes. The outcome of the questionnaire is a report which details your psychological preferences when you make decisions or how you judge a situation. For example you may make a decision based on gut feel, or you may make a decision based on logic. 

The test is used to understand what career you are suited to, what hobbies you enjoy doing, how well you form relationships. The core reason for my school performing this test was to provide us with guidance on what jobs we would be best suited to. This was then in turn supposed to help us pick our subjects for our exams, and then university degrees. 

At the time I didn't question anything, and took the questionnaire. 

16 Personalities Test

I've taken this questionnaire in many different guises over the years, either for job interviews, or once I am in the role. My most recent attempt at this questionnaire was with some colleagues at work where we took the 16 test.

The 16 Personalities test provides insight into different areas of an individuals life. The outcome of the test is a 5 letter acronym, where an individual can be:

  • an extrovert (E) / an introvert (I)
  • an observer (O) / Intuitive (N)
  • a thinker (T) / a feeler (F)
  • judging (J) / Prospecting (P)
  • Turbulent (T) / Assertive (A)

After I completed the test, my results showed that I am an ENFJ - T (extrovert, intuitive, feeling, judging, turbulent)

As a slight aside, here are the 5 personality traits and what they mean. For a more in depth analysis of the "16 personalities test", and what each characteristic means, check it out here.

E / I: Extrovert, or introvert. Extroverts gain their energy from being around other individuals, while introverts gain their energy from being on their own. 

O / I: an individual can either be an observer who is highly practical, pragmatic and down to earth versus an intuitive individual who is more imaginative and creative. 

T / F: Thinkers are focused on objectivity, rationality and prioritising logic, versus feelers who are more emotionally sensitive to others, and focus on feelings. 

J / P: If you are a judging individual you are focused on being decisive, thorough and highly organised versus prospecting individuals who are good at spotting opportunities and tend to be relaxed and more non conformist. 

T / A: finally, a turbulent individual is an individual who gets easily stressed at work, is very focused and driven for success. This is versus an assertive individual who is more even tempered and less prone to stress. 

I appreciate the above is a quick skip through the different personality types, and there is a lot more complexity involved...but, where am I going with this?

Per the above, I am an ENFJ - T. 

My characteristics come together above to give a "care-giving personality"; a personality that enjoys control and structure, has a strong moral value system, likes to make sure others are ok and seeks validation through the approval of others. 

I assumed, therefore that I was these things. Over the years, from the questionnaires I have taken, they have all shown the same characteristics (ENFJ - T). I have assumed that I will always be these things. I have assumed myself to be a un-varying, un-changing, fixed being.  

I recently had an interview which went badly. The interviewer turned round to me and said, you will not add enough value to this role. We will not be hiring you.  

This hit me hard. As someone who diligently strives for success, I took this failure very personally. At this point the "F" (feeling) and the "T" (turbulent) part of my personality were coming through. If I put myself in the shoes of an "O" (observer), the interviewer was right. I was very much unsuited for the role. This leads me to the core part of this article:

Our personalities, as they are right now, are not good if we are seeking change in our lives. 

Breaking Binary Thinking

Because I am an extrovert, does not mean I will never be an introvert. One of the core positives of an introvert is that they listen over talk. Listening is such a powerful and underestimated skill and, if I am to be successful in life, one which needs to strengthen.

In the last few weeks I've spent a considerable amount of time trying to become the other characteristics in my personality test, not because my characteristics are "bad", but so I can experience what the other characteristics are like, and understand how they enhance my life. Instead of being ENFJ - T: an extrovert who is intuitive, feeling, judging and turbulent, I've tried to exhibit characteristics of an introvert who uses observation, thinking, prospecting and being assertive. 

Similarly, I've also spent time understanding what the "next step" in my career is, and what personality attributes I need to be to achieve this step. The "care-giver" is not necessarily "the leader", thus, I need to change certain characteristics to become the leader. 

You, like your personality are on a journey to become whatever you need to be. 

If you are going for a job that requires you to be an assertive, outspoken leader, when you are normally an introvert, you can go for that role. You can change your personality. You can change your traits. The problem with binary thinking, is that it places you in one category, and says you need to stay in there. You limit opening up your mind to the possibility of being on the other side of the thought pattern. 


Night Owls to Early Birds

Binary thinking also extends into thinking around activities in your life. A key one I always come back to is around sleeping patterns. Society defines two "types of sleepers";

  • individuals who like to go to bed early, and wake up early (early birds), versus
  • individuals that stay up until the small hours of the night, and get up later in the day (the night owls).

As an early bird, I always believed night owls to be less productive and efficient, constantly tired, and with less energy overall than early birds. As my partner is a night owl I decided to run an experiment, whereby for an entire week I became be a night owl. I stayed up to 1a.m, and subsequently got up later. This allowed me to see a different perspective and fundamentally realise that I can be a night owl over an early bird if I choose to be a night owl. 


Where am I going with this?

Binary situations stagnate our personalities, and prevent personal growth and thus success

  • We are night owls

  • We are early birds

  • We are introverts

  • We are extroverts

  • We are ruled by our emotions

  • We are ruled by logic and reasoning

We are any and all of the above if we need that characteristic for our own success. 

We all have dreams and goals in life. These dreams and goals become realities when we put plans into action. These plans often involve us having to step outside of our comfort zone in many ways. Our plans fail, and our dreams come crashing down, when (internally or externally) we say we cannot ask for that pay rise as we are not confident or extroverted enough. We cannot start that company as we cannot do sales. We cannot build strong wealth as we are not good with money. We convince ourselves of these limiting thoughts and beliefs. 

To be successful, we need to constantly build our personality into what you need it to be. If you want to be financially literate, you can morph into this personality. If you need to be a confident leader, you can morph into this personality.

I am not saying that these things do not require work. They do.

The core realisation is that you are not one un-changing personality, but you are constantly evolving, and you have the ability to change and become the personality traits required for your success. Understand what personality characteristics you need to exhibit and start becoming them. Your personality is on a journey to become what you need it to be for success. 

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