More Than a Personality Profile
More than 10 years ago (2008), I completed a personality profile through my employer as part of a consulting project we were conducting. I was thoroughly excited! I had never done a profile and knew several people who could sum themselves up in simple, four-letter acronyms: ENFJ, ISTP, ESFP – there are 16 of them, and I didn’t have a clue who I was.
When I completed the profile, I found I was an ENFJ. I remember seeing it and feeling my smile quickly disappearing, my face hot and flush, my heart plummeting to my stomach. I took one look at the profile and wanted to hand it back. I wanted a new one. It revealed that I was a “feeler,” and a “relationship builder” and that I “relied on my gut” to make decisions. The person in the profile was not who I was working hard to be. Especially at work. It was the exact opposite.
E N F J
Extrovert / iNtuitive / Feeling / Judging
Not only did I not like what I saw in the profile, but I didn’t like the consultant (who I now consider a dear friend) telling me that I needed to give up on my dream of being a leader in an organization. My profile revealed an acronym that employers were not seeking out in its leaders. I was crushed. I saw myself as someone who had the strength, desire, and passion to pursue my dream. Wasn’t that enough? Apparently, it was not.
After what has turned into several years of counseling, soul searching, reading endless pages of self-help books, pouring my heart out to friends over wine, I now accept and embrace who I am. It’s been quite liberating! I have taken a hard look at my life – where I’ve been and where I want to go. It was grueling work – and it continues to evolve -- but it has propelled me to a place I could have only imagined.
The one sad part of this story is that I started to get comfortable with the idea of lowering expectations I had originally set for myself – both personally and professionally. I was starting to set the bar lower.
I’m not sure what snapped me back to reality but at some point I got angry. My personality profile is just a small part of who I am. It does not tell you that I’m resilient, creative, energetic, a solution seeker – and much more. I was angry at myself for letting one tool and its outcome dictate my life.
I will always aim for the moon. That's what leaders do – they aim high. And, I believe we all can be leaders. Passion, desire and commitment are powerful feelings that lay a strong foundation to pursue whatever you desire. I may not have all the traits needed but who does? Habits are powerful tools that help most leaders succeed – not solely their personality.
Leaders also have the resolve to learn. If you aren’t a technology expert, seek one out or take a course. If you can’t read a balance sheet, find someone who does and learn. If you want to learn to paint, take a class. Surround yourself with people who have strengths in areas where you may have room for improvement. That’s the great part of building a team -- you can surround yourself with experts.
No one has the perfect personality traits that make the path easier and faster. Being authentic is important, and I’m not going to pretend to be someone I’m not. I’m going to take in every experience, surround myself with the right people and learn as much as I can. I’ve figured out that I have a passion and drive to go far. It may take me a little longer to reach my goal, but that’s OK.
Bottom line: Some days I still question where I’m headed but I have a plan and will keep moving forward. I’ll continue on my journey, and I’ll figure it out as I go along. I’m in this for the long run. I just need to find a really good pair of shoes!