In my case, I can see how I’m good at coming up with creative projects (strength), but bad at asking for help (weakness).
Taking the time to reflect on your personality is no doubt insightful. But it also makes for great ammunition to use against yourself. As in, I’ll never be good at this and I’ll always be horrible at that.
So this is my beef with personality typing in general:
You’ve gotta know how to use the insight you glean from learning about your personality.
And from what I gather, there are two main approaches here:
Approach #1. Focus on your weaknesses
Some experts say the key is to hone in on those traits you can improve. Be aware of your strengths. But work on your weaknesses. Because that’s where you have the most growth potential. And by improving your weaknesses you thrive.
Approach #2. Focus on your strengths
Some experts say the key is to exploit your strengths. Be aware of your weaknesses. But spend your precious time doing what you’re best at. Outsource or delegate the rest. In this way, your work is more rewarding because it’s aligned with your strengths.
So which is it? And what if it’s neither?
Part 1. A new definition is required.
Your character traits are things you do that come naturally to you. You may see them as flaws, strengths, imperfections, or talents.
But no matter how you think about your character traits, one thing’s for sure:
They either boost or drain your energy.
And seeing how your energy is your vitality, maybe we can redefine what strengths are and then go from there.
Try this on for size:
Your strengths are those character traits that strengthen you by boosting your energy.
Part 2. What strengthens you.
Take note, just because you’re really good at something doesn’t mean it’s energizing you.
As a matter of fact, some of your so-called flaws or imperfections could be boosting your energy.
Here are a few examples:
• You may be great at speaking in front of large crowds. But afterward, you’re so drained that you need two weeks to recharge.
• You may be shy. But your inability to speak up means you’re invested in finding other ways to communicate. Because of that, you keep a journal. And writing has become a practice that totally boosts your energy.
• You may be great at structuring your day. But you end up leaving little room for trying new things. Especially if you feel insecure about your skills. And this kind of inflexible scheduling drains you.
• You may be impatient. But your inability to wait means you’re willing to move forward despite feeling insecure. And because of that, you create momentum which leaves you feeling energized and eager.
So I’d like to introduce a third approach:
Approach #3. Focus on your energy
Your character traits are natural tendencies. The key is to take advantage of those character traits that boost your energy. You can do this regardless if you’ve been thinking about them as flaws up until now.
Because surely, any so-called imperfection that boosts your energy can be channeled in a way to help you thrive.
Part 3. Turning your flaws into assets.
Let’s look at how focusing on your energy gives you insight that you can use.
Can you think of which of your so-called flaws are boosting your energy?
And which of your strengths might be draining you?
Let’s use me as an example. Take a look at this list. These are my so-called weaknesses.
2. Clean freak
3. Overly self-critical
Now check out this next list. I’ve teased out the qualities that energize me which are inherent in my so-called weaknesses. And reframed them into assets.
2. Creating calm
3. Showing the way
Getting better is not about fixing yourself but about energizing yourself.
Part 4. On getting better, personality, and identity.
Okay, so we’ve looked at three approaches for how to use the insight you glean from learning about your personality. Namely, you can focus on your weaknesses, your strengths, and/or your energy.
But for any of these approaches to be helpful, you’ve gotta get very clear on two things:
1. You’ve gotta give up the idea that you must fix yourself to be better.
You wanna be open to the idea that you can improve your vitality despite your imperfections.
2. Your personality is not permanent.
Personality tests have the unfortunate consequence of making you think that your personality is fixed. So let’s define personality:
Your personality is your behavior over time.
We tend to confuse what we mean by personality with identity.
Your identity is your internal narrative. It’s how you want to show up for yourself and others. It’s based on your core values. And it drives your behavior.
Your personality is a consequence of your identity.
This means that as your values change, so does your personality.
The mission of personality typing should not be to put you in a box.
The mission of personality typing should be to help you find the exit door of the box you’re in.
Ya see you’ve put yourself unwittingly inside a box built by your coping mechanisms over time. Early on this box protected you.
So the question is, do your coping mechanisms still serve you today?
Part 5. How to channel your so-called flaws to help you thrive.
Let me show you how I’ve expanded on my seven so-called flaws from Part 3. Namely, I’ve teased out the qualities that energize me and explained them below.
My hope is that these examples serve to help you look at your own so-called flaws with fresh eyes.
1. From perfectionist to enthusiast:
Being a perfectionist means having high expectations for yourself. And your expectations are based on what you value most. And although holding yourself to unrealistic expectations is unhelpful, knowing your core values is priceless.
Because knowing what you value most, gives direction to your life. So the trick is to set your intention of who you want to become. So that when you feel yourself advancing, life feels exciting.
In this way, your perfectionism can be channeled into feeling enthusiastic.
2. From clean freak to creating calm:
Being a clean freak and controlling your surroundings is how you attempt to feel safe. And although your sense of control is an illusion, decluttering your physical surroundings has a positive impact on your mental health.
It’s quite difficult to get a grip on what’s cluttering your mind. But being good at decluttering your home makes space for new thoughts, new ideas, and new attitudes. So the trick is to allow for spaciousness.
In this way, being a clean freak can be channeled into calming your mind.
3. From overly self-critical to showing the way:
Being overly self-critical means you’re always judging and comparing. And that leads you to be keenly aware of what’s missing in your life. And although being overly self-critical is exhausting and counter-productive, reflecting on your life’s journey can be motivating.
When you acknowledge the lessons you’ve learned and look forward to keep learning in the future, you’re in a process of growth. Because you can clearly see how you’ve grown, you can also clearly teach others what you wish you would have known back in the day.
In this way, being overly self-critical lets you expand and be an example of what’s possible.
4. From stubborn to resilient:
Being stubborn means you’re inflexible when it comes to changing your mind or trying new things. It can make you obstinate and difficult. But if you’ve got clarity on what you want and your purpose, then being stubborn is your ticket to being resilient.
When you’ve got a clear vision of where you want to go, your stubbornness will keep you on track. And with a little optimism added to the mix, being stubborn will keep you from giving up on yourself.
In this way, your stubbornness can be channeled into being resilient with the added benefit of staying optimistic.
5. From shy to expressive:
Being shy can make you slow or reluctant to speak up. Or unwilling to take part in activities that could benefit you. And although this means you might miss out on opportunities, it also means you may compensate by exploring your creativity.
Because you feel clumsy expressing your voice around others, you may develop your voice via writing, fashion, music, or art-making.
In this way, your shyness can be channeled into exploring and expressing your creativity.
6. From obsessive to insightful:
Being obsessive means you’re in the grip of your thoughts. It can make you preoccupied to the point of living in your head. And this can leave you feeling scattered. So the trick is to let your curiosity drive your obsessions.
When you’re obsessively curious, you’re pursuing all the things that light you up. In other words, you’ll pursue your multiple interests and passions.
You’ll allow yourself to play, explore, and experiment. And as a result, you’ll make connections and get new ideas. And this newfound insight will feed your creativity.
In this way, your obsessiveness can be channeled into being insightful with the added benefit of nurturing your creativity.
7. From impatient to intuitive:
Being impatient can make you restless and anxious. You may find yourself feeling irritated or provoked. Impatience is at the root of scarcity-thinking. You feel driven to get what you want before it’s gone. Because there’s not enough to go around.
Impatience is born out of having a desire. So the trick is to let your impatience push you into taking action before you feel ready. And by taking action you’ll create momentum which carries you forward.
The biggest hurdle to creating positive change is getting past your resistance to start. So if you can let your impatience cause you to be impulsive, you’re one step ahead. You’ll be teaching yourself to trust your intuition with every impulsive decision you make.
In this way, your impatience can be channeled into trusting your intuition.
When you stop pushing against your flaws, you can roll with them instead.
There’s one thing all your character traits do regardless if you consider them to be flaws or assets. They either boost or drain your energy.
You can redefine what your strengths are:
Your strengths are those character traits that strengthen you by boosting your energy. And any so-called flaw that boosts your energy can be channeled in a way to help you thrive.
• Make a list of what you consider to be your strengths
• Make a list of what you consider to be your flaws
Next, look at both your lists with fresh eyes. Ask yourself:
• Which of my so-called flaws are boosting my energy?
• Which of my strengths might be draining me?
Make a new list of only those character traits that boost your energy. And try teasing out the qualities that energize you (see Part 5).
The trick is to first pay attention to your energy. And then, to use your focus muscle. Namely, focus your thoughts on how good it feels to charge your energy.
In the end, getting better is not about fixing yourself but about energizing yourself.
Because the truth is that you can improve your vitality despite your imperfections. And you can let go of feeling inadequate in the process. Oh, yeah.