Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Who am I?

At the start of our year we had a lecture that invited us to have an introspective look at ourselves, our personalities and our approaches to work, so that we could better understand ourselves and our potential. This was one of the main objectives of our PPP module, so that ultimately we have a clear understanding of the professional environment that we wish to work in and how we can achieve those goals.

Although some aspects of ourselves are easy to measure and therefore define, such as our gender and level of education to our shoe size (demographics), this lecture helped us to define the aspects that are not, such as our capabilities, thinking styles and working styles. Learning these will help others to understand how we work and what it would be like to collaborate with us. They are personality type indicators.

We also determined our work-life balance, by planting points on a circular chart that would form a web, which would show us in which aspects of life we prioritise our energy and efforts, and which ones we need to pay more attention to. On my chart, I determined that in October of last year, although happy with my family, relationship and recreational activities, there was still room for improvement in many other aspects, such as finance, health, achievements, career, energy and particularly self-esteem. Looking back on this chart now, I can easily see how my first year at university has altered these aspects of myself. I now feel more secure in my achievements and future, and have begun to learn the skills needed to share my time and energy effectively in my life.

On to defining our personalities: The mother and daughter team of Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers developed a behaviour analysis tool in 1942 to help women find suitable industrial work during World War II. The questionnaire was expanded into the format we know today where it focuses on naturally occurring differences, or the 4 Dichotomies, namely extroversion and introversion, sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling, and judging and perceiving. The personality indicators are not seen as perfectly accurate reflections of our personality as that is impossible, but rather indications.

Introversion and Extroversion
Everyone has a face that is directed at the external world, and a face directed at their inner world. Most people naturally have a preference towards one or the other.

I quite easily figured myself to be an introvert (I) as I tend to think and analyse a situation before I act, I value my private time and often need it to "recharge", my mind tends to be active to the point of being 'closed' to the outside world and I prefer one-to-one communication and relationships.

Sensing and Intuition
This criterion defines information perception.

I found out I am intuitive (N) as I often visualise how my actions today will effect the future, I use my imagination to invent new possibilities, I instinctively recall patterns and connections, and I'm comfortable with deducing meaning from ambiguous data.

Thinking and Feeling
This defines how the person processes information.

The feeling (F) side of my personality is more dominant, as I instinctively let my personal feelings influence my decisions, I am sensitive to people's needs and reactions, I often seek opinions of others, and I am unsettled by conflict.

Judging and Perceiving
The final criterion shows how the person implements their information and approaches the world.

Although I have aspects of both styles in my personality, I think most dominantly I am perceiving (P), as I like to take the world as it comes and adapt accordingly, like to multi-task and have variety, work best under pressure, and instinctively avoid commitments which interfere with overall freedom. However, I also do like to work according to thought-out targets, dates and routines and I feel at my best when I keep ahead of deadlines, which are judging characteristics.

So my personality type is INFP.
I discovered the INFP types are defined as the idealists. The presentation defined me as:
Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is threatened.

My general opinion of this test has been mixed, as I don't think the above description fits me 100%, and I also wasn't sure which of the two options to choose for a couple of the criteria as I often have significant characteristics of both types.

However I do of course see the importance in understanding ones strengths and weaknesses, and learning to find balance in all aspects of life so that you are at your mental best. Being able to see how others scored, and comparing myself to their personality types, also taught me how important it is, in a team, to have a variety of personality types that suit their individual roles. Therefore it is important to familiarise with and gain a network of many different people as they can all bring their own set of characteristics and be valuable for very different reasons.

Following the lecture we were asked to have a look at The Big Personality Test, which was developed by Professor Robert Winston. The test works out your "big five" traits, and measures Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

I scored high on Openness, which measures originality, creativity, curiosity and complexity, meaning I "enjoy having novel experiences and seeing things in new ways". I was in the middle on Conscientiousness, so am neither organised nor disorganised. I scored very low on Extraversion, meaning I am reserved and quiet, and prefer to spend time on my own. I was mid-to-high on Agreeableness, meaning I am a balance of being good-natured and courteous, and critical and irritable. Finally, I scored fairly high on Neuroticism, meaning I tend to feel anxious, insecure and nervous. 

The results of this test probably fall in line with the personality indicators, so I have a further understanding of my overall personality. Unfortunately it's also increasingly showing me the aspects of myself I need to work on in order to get the most out of my life and career, i.e. I should probably try to calm my neurotic traits, and also become more extroverted.

Although feeling somewhat uncomfortable in writing so much about myself and my personality, as already mentioned it is an important part of developing and learning where your strengths lie.

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