5 Benefits of Knowing Yourself

I am a sucker for personality exams.  I love to see exactly what I am made of and why I do what I do.

Man looking at camera

Not all people are the same as me, and that is just fine.  In fact, that is part of the reason I love personality exams.  I learn how someone else operates, and that knowledge helps me relate to them in a more productive way.

In fact, I have written before about the benefit of personality exams in my post 1 Step to Better Leadership.

A number of years ago the staff at the place where I worked took the Myers-Briggs together.  I was amazed at the results, and, more particularly, at what I learned from the results.

I learned that I was the only true introvert on the staff.

If you are familiar with Myers-Briggs you can chart your personality on a 4×4 grid of possible personality combinations.  I was at the far upper right corner of the chart and the rest of the staff was clustered around the lower left corner and lower center.  The senior pastor was closest to me, and he was two rows away.


That’s how my office was as well.  I had my office at the other end of the building and I liked it that way.

I also found that while my boss was more about the journey and adjusting along the way, I was very much about the end goal and I did not like a lot of variation in the path along the way.  That one piece of information served me well over the years in relating to him.  I learned his process and how he got to where he was going.

In short, personality exams can:

  1. Dispel myths and misinformation about similarities or differences between yourself and colleagues, your boss, your spouse, or your significant other.
  2. Reveal hidden causes of conflict and misunderstanding.
  3. Challenge you to face the truth about yourself and others.
  4. Strengthen your team, your marriage, or your relationship with your boss.
  5. Clarify whether or not you are really a fit for your present job.

Sometimes harmony and synergy at work or at home are only a personality exam away.

What relationship at home or work could be strengthened by a simple personality exam?

1 Step to Better Leadership

In honor of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit coming next week on Thursday and Friday, August 9-10, I want to share a powerful tool with you that has helped me be a better leader and communicator.

In case you haven’t noticed, people are different.

I am certain that without really thinking about it you could probably name at least a person or two with whom you find it very difficult to communicate.

This difficulty arises from several sources:

  1. Sometimes these people are simply wired completely different than you (think CPA vs. jazz guitarist).
  2. Sometimes you have unresolved conflict with these people.
  3. Sometimes these people are EGRs: “Extra Grace Required.”  (I have Lakeshore Community Church and pastor Vince DiPaola for that lovely designation.)

If number 2 is the issue, dig in and seek resolution or forgiveness or whatever is required.  Jesus commands us to seek resolution with everyone, regardless of whether we are the offender or the victim.  In fact, if you do not resolve the issue as far as is in your power to do God says that your prayers will be hindered.

If number 3 is the issue, check out this series from Lakeshore Community Church on how to deal with EGRs.  You should find it insightful and just plain fun!

If number 1 is the issue, I have lots of encouragement for you.  One of the best things you can do is to take a personality exam with your team.

A number of years ago the church I was at was going through a huge leadership change and we had a lot of conflict within the pastoral staff.  We actually called in a counselor to moderate.  One of the best things she did was administer an extensive personality exam to everyone present.  After the results were in we charted the different staff personalities on the markerboard so that everyone could see them and discuss the ramifications.

Suddenly we discovered that everyone EXCEPT the senior pastor operated with the goal in mind.  The senior pastor, however, cared more about the journey than the goal.  This major difference had huge ramifications in how we planned and worked together and was the root of much conflict.

Neither personality type was a problem; the challenge was the interaction of the two and understanding what the other needed and valued.

I am willing to bet that a simple personality exam could launch your leadership to new heights because of the understanding it can promote within your team.

Here are several different types of exams and what you can expect from them.

My preferred instrument is the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) tool.

Take the test for free here.

This tool identifies your preferences in regards to your Favorite World (Extrovert or Introvert), Information (Sensing or Intuitive), Decisions (Thinking or Feeling), and Structure (Judging or Perceiving).

I am an INXJ.  The “X” indicates that I approach decisions equally from the Feeling and Thinking perspectives.  Myers-Briggs labels me a Masterplanner or Counselor, depending on whether you go with “F” or “J” in place of the “X.”

The DISC Personality System identifies the primary components of someone’s personality by using the following components: Drive, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.

Check out the free version here.

The paid version, however, will give you quite a few resources to work with.  This exam helps you understand who you are privately, who you are publicly, and how the two relate.

In both general and work life I am a “C,” which stands for compliant, cautious, and correct.  My primary tendency is task- and detail-oriented, with a preference for more passive types of work.

In work life my secondary trait is “D,” or dominant, driver, determined.

In general life my secondary trait is “S,” which stands for stable, steady, supportive.

In all areas of my life I am not a strong “I,” which is influencing, inspiring or impulsive.

Because of these designations my primary descriptors are Designer, Precisionist, and Contemplator.

Finally, you can take the quick and dirty The Smalley Center Free Personality Test here.  This test is fun because it describes individuals as Lion, Beaver, Otter, or Golden Retriever, measuring the same things as above in a straightforward manner.  This test is perfect for couples and individuals who do not like complex tests.

I am a full Beaver, which means (as you saw above) that I am detail- and task-oriented, contemplative, and an introvert.

So regardless which test you use, you can become a better team leader if you understand your own strengths and the strengths of your team.

Take one or more of the tests and post the results in the comments section below.  What did you learn?