Along with reading self-help books, one of my favourite guilty pleasures is taking personality tests.
Why guilty, you might think? Because, on some level, I can’t help but feel a little embarrassed for liking them so much – I mean, what sort of a loser needs a questionnaire to tell them who they are? (ahem, my sort it would seem.)
On the other hand, I find they are a good tool for self development, and so far each of them has brought its small dose of enlightement – and as we know, every little helps.
When I say personality test, I don’t mean the type of tests you find in girly magazines, the ones that tell you whether your husband is cheating on you, or if you need a haircut (ok, these can be fun too). I mean the more serious profiling tools used by people like psychologists or human resources, and others like me (perhaps you) who would be keen to make the most of their talents, if only they knew which they are.
So having already done a few well-known test like Myers-Briggs, Strengths Finder, Eneagram or Wealth Dynamics, I was more than a little excited to hear marketing guru Marie Forleo recommend a new one called the “Fascination Advantage Assessment”. What was exciting about it (apart from the glamorous title) was that, unlike other tests, if focused not on how you see the world, but on how the world see you, on how you “fascinate” others.
I thought it would be useful personal branding, for both self awareness and career prospects, so I gladly paid the not-so-cheap fee of $37 to see what my profile was. I found a quiet 15 minutes to complete it, eagerly awaited the verdict among completion… and ended up sorely disappointed by the results.
You see, I usually think of myself as a quiet, calm, borderline boring character. I typically enjoy writing, reading, and drinking herbal tea; I dislike like loud music and loud people even more. So I did feel a little cheated when the profile that came up was “the rockstar”, with primary trigger: rebellion.
My first response was “I need to get a refund”. My second response was to tell my boyfriend about it, who found it so funny he is probably still laughing as your read.
Then I remembered what coach Marianne Cantwell (of Free Range Humans fame) wisely says to her clients: our main challenge is often to accept the results of our personality tests, and act upon them, even if – especially if – we think they are wrong.
It is very easy not to take those tests seriously. No matter how good they are, it is virtually impossible for them to describe us accurately. Most of us will usually think that we fit SOME of our profile results, not all; or that different profiles would describe us at different times. Or we just don’t like the type of person it says we are. So we dismiss the results with a shrug (or if you are French like me, a shrug and a “pfff”), and move on to something else. After all, why did we expect a stupid questionnaire to know who we were in the first place.
And that’s where we are wrong. Of course, no questionnaire will ever being to capture accurately the entirety of our character, our uniqueness, our quirks. But that’s missing the point, because what those tests DO aim to tell us is roughly what sort of person we are, particularly in relation to other people, and where we fit in the incredibly wide spectrum of human personality. What we are mostly like, a lot of the time.
Our challenge is to reflect on these key points, and see how we can use them to our advantage.
So mercifully, my scoring as “rockstar” doesn’t mean I should trade my office job for an electric guitar. But perhaps it means I should be proud to think a little differently from others, rather than try to hide it?
When I think about it, I do enjoy being bold and saying things as they are – especially if it includes swearwords. I also love people who are daring and eccentric, and tend to find traditional characters a bit bland. I always assumed it was a bit of a problem because it means I don’t “fit in” so well in some situations, especially at work. But thinking about it now, perhaps it’s all ok?
That’s one more thing personality tests do: they give you permission to be who you are.
If the only way to be truly great is to play to your strengths, you don’t have to waste your time trying to be someone else. And that in itself can be a huge relief.
Do you know what your super-strengths are? Perhaps they are not what you think? Whatever you are great at, make it a real asset. Take it as a challenge to focus on it instead of hiding it and you will truly fascinate the world.