The Power of Understanding Yourself: The Key to Self-Discovery, Personal Development, and Being the Best You - Dave Mitchell 2019
An Example of Punching Down Your Own Style
My favorite wine is whatever is open.
— That guy
The more meaningful reflection you can muster for the evaluation of your own style, the better. That’s why I think reading all the styles is a useful exercise. Your assessment is such a useful tool to guide your metacognition. Of particular importance is the order of your preference, but the type of pattern you display, the exact numbers, how close two numbers are to each other — all of these considerations can generate incredible insights.
Although skills, strengths, aspirations, and values are all important to who we are, none of those are as immediately noticeable to others as our style. Having a deep awareness and appreciation for our own style is critical to understanding ourselves and guiding our development. Later in this chaper, I will use my results to demonstrate what you can cull from the assessment. As I go over my scores, consider your own scores. This may be a good time to review Chapter 5, “What’s My Style?,” again — and to keep in mind that there are no good or bad results. This assessment provides a tool for self-examination, not self-criticism. Right now, your goal should not be to determine what makes you great and what you need to work on. It is merely to identify you.
Be honest with yourself. We are undertaking an exercise in metacognition, and that includes understanding your own preferences, perspectives, vulnerabilities. Embrace you. There will be plenty of opportunities to create a path for self-improvement. For now, we want to understand our current state and recognizing our style preferences is critical to that goal.
The critical considerations are:
· What is my lowest score?
This determines your primary sensitivity (A = facts, B = emotion, C = concepts, D = logic)
· What is my second-lowest score?
This influences your primary sensitivity, providing it with nuance and broadening your perception?
· How close are my two lowest scores to each other?
If you primary and secondary sensitivities are close, then both play a significant role on your style. If your primary is significantly lower than your secondary — seven points or more — then the influence of the secondary style is small. On rare occasions, a person can score a tie between their primary and secondary preferences. This dual preference phenomenon is a notable occurrence and one that is reflected in my own assessment below.
· Do I have a dynamic, nuanced, or common pattern?
This was explained in Chapter 5, “What’s My Style?” The distribution of all four numbers is an important consideration when examining your style.
· How close is my tertiary (third-lowest) style to my primary and secondary sensitivities?
This determines your ability to adjust even more broadly to people and situations without enduring large amounts of stress. If your secondary and tertiary preference both score under 30, your ability to expand to your tertiary style is strong. If your tertiary score is above 35, then you will likely endure high levels of stress when stretching into this perspective.
· How high is my highest score?
Your highest scoring column is your quaternary preference. Referring to it as a “preference” is a misnomer. Rare is the individual that can consistently and comfortably manifest behaviors and perspective that reflect their quaternary preference. The amount of personal duress that accompanies the use of the quaternary preference is typically sufficient to dissuade us from this perspective. The exceptions are individuals who possess a nuanced pattern.
What do you notice about your scores? Make some bullet points based on the questions above that will guide your self-exploration of style.
Analyzing My Assessment
To aid you in this exercise, let me use my assessment as an example. Here were my four totals:
A Column = 37
B Column = 20
C Column = 43
D Column = 20
· I have a tie between my primary and secondary preference: Romantic (column B) and Warrior (column D).
· There is a large distance in preference between my secondary preference (which in my case is actually two primary preferences) and my tertiary preference, Expert (column A).
· Although my pattern is within the common distribution, it is on the edge of being dynamic.
· Both my tertiary and quaternary (Mastermind, column C) preferences are high.
· My tertiary preference is Expert, quaternary is Mastermind.
By examining all these considerations, you can arrive at a much more thorough understanding of your own style orientation. In my previous book, The Power of Understanding People, we explored only the influence of the primary and secondary preferences without consideration of all these other elements. That’s because this book focused on interacting with other people, and our relationships with others are most often transactional — occurring for a limited time in a specific context like leadership, team work, sales, and customer service. Even our relationships with family and friends pale in comparison to the level of self-awareness we can achieve. As they say, there is only one person who you will spend your whole life with. You. It is probably wise to know as much as possible about this relationship
After listing the bullet points that will guide your interpretation of the results, go back and write out how each of these areas influence your style. You will find helpful tools in the Extracting Me Worksheet. Again, using my scores, here is an example:
Reflecting on My Style
A tie between primary and secondary preferences is unusual. This, combined with the substantial preference for using these two styles rather than the other two styles, is a very important factor in understanding myself. Having dual preferences for emotion (Romantic) and logic (Warrior) provide me with a gift for both empathy and efficiency. I want people to be happy, and I will work hard to make that happen because of my need for both world peace and results. I am a directive counselor because I believe I know the solution to what is bothering you. I care deeply about my family and am called to action when they are troubled. Same is true about other relationships that I value. I would describe myself as fiercely loyal. Of course, that also means that when I feel betrayed or believe that my loyalty is not appreciated, this can create intensely negative feelings of resentment.
Not only do I have the unusual phenomenon of a tie, but the tie is between two styles that are exceptionally contrasting. This provides a complexity to me that can be hard for others to understand. My Romantic side values appreciation as an intrinsic need. I thrive when feeling appreciated and tend to “pay” others in kind. However, I also desire independence as an intrinsic need. Generally, Warriors prefer to be left alone to get things done efficiently and with a minimum amount of meddling from others. So, this indicates that I would prefer to be left alone to get results and reward others in the same way. This creates mixed signals to others as I vacillate between offering praise and space and require the same. It can also make managing my resiliency a challenge since my two intrinsic needs are very different. It would be hard to create an environment in which one experiences both ample appreciation and independence. Perhaps that is one of the appeals of my vocations as a speaker/educator. It offers me the praise of the audience and the freedom to move on to the next project.
I use tact and diplomacy to compensate for my impatience. As a result, people may be surprised by my intensity, as I tend to mask it with emotional sensitivity. Although I do not suffer fools gladly, I choose to hold my tongue and take on more responsibility to get things done. This can lead to overextending myself and then becoming resentful of my load. I prefer to be the rescuer rather than the rescued. Again, the influence of very contrasting styles as my primary preferences will make my interactive style more extreme. By this I mean that the differences between Romantic and Warrior are very noticeable and could create confusion in others depending on which style they have experienced with me: the Romantic tact and diplomacy approach or the Warrior direct and results oriented approach.
It is difficult for me to adjust to the Expert and Mastermind styles. Situations and people who are either highly structured and methodical or more systemic and unpredictable cause me stress. This contributed hugely toward my choice to leave the corporate world and pursue a vocation that limits my exposure to others. Over the long haul, I work best by myself or with individuals that share my style preferences. I don’t think it is an accident that I have become fixated on helping others develop better and broader relationships and valuing style diversity.
I have spent the past 23 years educating people on style diversity and evangelizing the value of expanding your ability to communicate with different styles. Before that, I spent a dozen more years in leadership roles in corporate human resources development helping people appreciate diverse contributions. Since my own pattern suggests that I would experience that exact challenge, I am the classic example of “physician heal thyself.” I don’t think it’s an accident that my passion in life is a direct reflection of my own vulnerabilities. I have worked very hard to be more effective in understanding and communicating to individuals who think differently than me. It is entirely possible that your passions, like my own, come not from your preferences but from your blind spots. I left the corporate world to pursue a career that would isolate me from people other than my events on stage. I live in increasingly rural locations. My scores suggest that a large percentage of my interactions with others will cause me duress. So, it’s only natural that I would devote my professional work to The Power of Understanding People. It is akin to the doctor researching the cure to his own illness. Or, I’m a masochist. Or both.
Related to this, I will struggle with repetitive, structured activities. When considering the impact of interactive style on your essence, it is not limited to the people dynamics. Tasks and environments can be considered relative to their impact on interactive style. With my low preference for Expert and Mastermind styles, it will be hard for me to remain committed to mundane tasks, at least if I perceive them as such. This is especially true if I view them to have little value. I have signed 400 books at an event, a task that involves writing “Laugh and Learn! Dave” for nearly three hours. However, this task results in giving people the gift of my book. That’s a very Romantic scenario. And it means I sold 400 books. The Warrior in me can endure this task, given the resulting sales! As with all things in my delusion, the time/value ratio must be correct for me to invest the effort, but the value of making others happy is huge and will offset any time investment.
Conceptual thinking is also difficult for me. I remember the pain of “brainstorming sessions.” The first rule of brainstorming is that there are no bad ideas. For a low scoring Warrior, that simply is not true. Oh, I understand intellectually that every idea offers merit and may provide a link to another, better idea. Warriors, however, can’t help but evaluate the merits of an idea. An idea with no chance of a result is fundamentally unappealing to a Warrior. Warriors hate “spitballing.”
The evaluation of my own pattern clearly reflects that I am a Crusader/Hired Gun. When presented with a situation or person that appeals to me emotionally, I will fight for that cause with no regard for the personal reward. Absent that emotional connection, I will require compensation for the fight but will still use empathy, tact, and diplomacy to achieve the desired results. My intrinsic need is for appreciation and independence. I will experience high amounts of duress when faced with highly structured environments/people or those who work at a conceptual level. I do not like loosely defined situations or rigid compliance and operate best when given the freedom to achieve a result and the appreciation for having done so. My passion (in my case, to help others better communicate and appreciate diverse styles) is a direct result of my own struggle to be more comfortable with different style perspectives. Even my lifestyle choices reflect a style of person that enjoys the company of others provided that he has the freedom to choose when it happens. As my father would say, “I love people, on my terms.” I guess the apple didn’t stray far from the tree.
This would be a good time to return to the notes you took when you read about your primary and secondary style preferences previously and see if you can add even more depth to your self-evaluation. Remember, you will find a section with some guiding questions to help you in the Extracting Me Worksheet. Again, it is useful to return to your assessment several times, because the insights can be limitless. The results are not static either. People can change. In fact, just like with the grapes that make the wine, they must.