Myers-Briggs (ENTJ). Enneagram (Type 3). StrengthsFinder (input/relator/connected/learner/discipline). DiSC (“i” - at least I think). Astrological sign (Leo). Hogwarts House…(eh, you get the idea).
I just returned from the annual National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) Retreat, held this year in St. Charles, IL, just outside of Chicago. It was, as always, a great experience filled with motivating conversation, learning, and networking. I came home with my brain packed full of inspiration and expansive ideas that need to be sifted through, refined, and turned into something actionable. One of the themes this year seemed to circle around personality profiles and types, and I thought it might help me to sift through some of that theme here in a post (plus, it conveniently ties into my theme for the year). It’s much more question than answer, so I hope many of you will comment with your thoughts.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve most likely taken or paid attention to at least one test or questionnaire that purports to define you - whether through an in-depth work related profile and follow-up or a Facebook quiz to find out what Disney villain you are. Personality profiles have always attracted and repelled me at the same time. I’m usually intrigued to take them, but not always comfortable with the result. I recall getting more than a little twisted up when I took what seemed like an exhaustive quiz to see what my Pottermore Patronus was, only to learn I was a vole. A vole?! Not an eagle or a white swan? What the hell is a vole, anyway? Whatever it is, apparently it makes me capable of outrunning Dementors. My daughter thought it was hilarious and now routinely refers to me as “Mama Vole.” But I digress…
Going back to the NAPO retreat, a big tradition is to put all of these ribbons on our badges that tell the world what we’ve done or achieved in organizing and productivity - CPO®, board member, “App Savvy,” etc. I realized this year that I don’t pay a lot of attention to what people stick together, other than try to note “First Time Attendee” ribbons and ask them how their conference experience is going. I guess that our desire to be known, valued, and understood makes us want to put some sort of a label on ourselves and then let everyone else know about it - but who is paying attention?
And how much do we project what we want to be into these personality profiles? If we use these kinds of assessments to learn more about the people we live or work with, are we really getting something accurate and helpful, or something that takes us off track? One of the common questions in profiles generally has to do with whether or not we like to be at parties or stay at home. My real response is YES, but that’s rarely an option, so I usually just put down that I’m the party person because that’s more of how I want to be perceived (why, I have no clue - perhaps someone should create a profile to answer that question).
I’ve frequently used a learning styles assessment with clients to see if it can be helpful in figuring out an organizing or productivity system that aligns with how they take in information. One of the reasons I like it is that people can put down more than one right response, or skip all responses if none of them seem to apply. I don’t have any hard evidence that it works, but it definitely gives us a starting point for discussion. If you trend kinesthetic, could that mean you need to set up systems that get you moving around the room? If you need to remember where you put something and you’re primarily aural, does it help to talk to yourself as you put things in place? Maybe. It seems to resonate with clients, and often gets us to a point where they are more comfortable repeating a new habit. But I always emphasize that the results are a first brush stroke - not the whole picture. I wouldn't want to put anyone into a strict box that keeps us from looking at more possibilities.
What profiles have you taken, and what did you think of the results? Did they help you? Depress you? Unnerve you? What is helpful to learn about someone else’s results?
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?