In this post, we will start by exploring personal style (a facet of our personalities), which can tell us a lot about our decision-making tendencies, as well as what we are likely to be thinking and doing immediately before and after a decision (or mistake) is made. We will spend time exploring personal style with a short and easy tool.
Identify Your Personal Style
Personality is made up of a collection of characteristics or “traits” such as confidence, creativity, tact, perfectionism, etc. For example, if one of your stronger personality traits is “conscientiousness”, chances are you act in a way that reflects your sense of self-discipline and responsibility. You complete things that you start, you are good at organizing, and people respect your ability to get things done. You might also avoid risks, feel uncomfortable with unplanned activities and sometimes resist change.
Knowing this about yourself (and others) is useful – it makes it easier to make choices about your career (think Accountant versus Sales Rep), your hobbies (think home organization versus sky-diving), activities you might want to be involved in (and avoid) and how you want to spend your time. It also makes you more aware of your weaknesses and challenges. For examples, a person with a highly conscientiousness personality trait may get stressed by changes and surprises and may not deal well with people who don’t follow the rules. They may be perceived as rigid (maybe even stubborn), and may be a little controlling when it comes to working with others on projects or activities. A person who has a highly extroverted personality aspect may have trouble working independently and get bored or demotivated with tasks that require more thought than action. They may be seen as less focused and more dependent on others to make decisions or get things done.
In my book, I talk about a model of how we make choices. In that model, our personality (I may also refer to it as “personal style” or “personal preference” – for our purposes, it is all the same thing) is an important Internal Influence over our choices. Remember, the challenge we must overcome for the Internal Influences is to be self-aware. We must fully understand and appreciate how our personality style affects what we think and do. When we master that, we can start to use it to our advantage (for example choosing a career that complements our personal style), and we can use it to avoid putting ourselves in no-win situations (for example a career that we struggle to enjoy and ultimately fail at because it just doesn’t fit with our personality).
There are loads of personality theories and models and assessments out there, many of them excellent resources for increasing self-awareness. If you aren’t familiar with this research and want to know more, then definitely check out some of the personality references I provide in the Recommended Reading section at the end of the book.
Another note about this personality “assessment” is that it is “self-determining”, meaning there are no tricks or hidden meanings in the sections and very few forced-choice questions. It is not a test at all, it is a self-guided exploration for you to think through and determine your style. You will learn about the four styles as you go through the exercise, and select the one that best fits how you see yourself. In other posts, you can review all the style profiles and decide if it is a good fit, or if another style or combination of styles fits better.
It is important to keep in mind that these “personal styles” are a core facet of our personalities, and there is no best “type”, each has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to making good choices. In addition, we can have feelings and display behaviors that align with any of all of these styles, depending on the situation. The key is to understand what are the predominant personality characteristics driving your decisions and use it to your advantage. Let’s do a little soul-searching to see if we can zero in on your predominant personal style.
Download and print the exercise here. See what you think, and read the series of posts about personal style and what it might mean for your future decisions.