We spend a lot of time and energy trying to make ourselves do things we think we should, but can't seem to actually get done.
Similarly, we cause a lot of heartache for ourselves and others attempting (mostly in vain) to get our loved ones to change the things they do that make no sense to us.
I can't say I've managed to eliminate either of these issues from my life, but I have found a way to understand them more clearly, and make better choices.
A Better Understanding
There are a lot of "personality tests" out there that you can take for free that will give you insight into yourself and others, but the tests I've personally found to be the most helpful are two paid tests - CliftonStrengths and the Kolbe A Index.
CliftonStrengths measures your innate talents - what you're naturally good at and inclined toward. By being aware of your strengths, you can better understand how you can uniquely contribute to a group, whether that group is a team at work, a family, or a sports team. At $28 CAD for your top five strengths, it's the more affordable of the two tests.
The biggest revelation for me with this test was realizing that my strengths lie mostly in strategic thinking and executing, which means I have the most to contribute to the ShopEco team when I'm learning, planning, coordinating, and making decisions. In the three years since I took the test, I've been slowly moving toward focusing more of my time on those activities, and eliminating or delegating the things that are not my strong suit, such as networking or training and coaching other team members.
The Kolbe A Index
In contrast, the Kolbe A Index measures your conative style, that is, how you approach work and strive to meet your goals. Where CliftonStrengths measures the what, the Kolbe measures the how. It's a pricier one, at $55 US, but once you understand it, it can become an invaluable tool.
This one is a little harder to grasp, so let me give you an example from my personal life. My husband, Alex, is long on Follow Thru and short on Quick Start on the Kolbe, which means he's ultra-detail-oriented and extremely organized, and feels uncomfortable making quick decisions or taking risks. When he makes a big purchase, he'll create a spreadsheet to compare all the features of the different models and brands, and choose the one that's the best overall value. He'll spend hours doing this and then is excited to share his findings with me.
I, on the other hand, am short on Follow Thru and long on Quick Start, which means I struggle to stay organized, will choose the first "good enough" product I come across when making a purchase, and focus on getting it done and over with fast, even if that means I sometimes end up making a bad decision. Spreadsheets make me break out in hives, and my eyes glaze over when poor Alex tries to show me all of his hard work.
This is something we've always clashed on, and still do, but now that we understand why our approaches are so different, we can stop wasting energy on making the other person realize their way is "wrong," and instead appreciate what they're bringing to the table. So with Alex's input, we're sure we've considered all of the options, and with my input, we don't spend an excessive amount of time coming to a decision.
Better Choices, Better Relationships
There are a few times in my past that I wish I had had the insight these tests provide, particularly when I was choosing what to study in university. I can't help but wonder what major I would have chosen, had I understood my strengths (it certainly wouldn't have been the communication-oriented language and literature major I did choose!).
If you find yourself on the cusp of a big decision, such as a career change, or if you find you're clashing with colleagues or family members and can't figure out why you don't see eye to eye, I encourage you to consider one or both of these tests. They can help you make choices and navigate relationships with a better understanding of your natural inclinations, so you can maximize your potential while making sure you still have energy left over to enjoy life.
This week, consider taking one of these tests and seeing what you discover. Let me know what you find out in the comments! You can see my results in the bio below.
Debra Purdy is the owner of ShopEco, a voracious reader, and a bona fide skin care fanatic. Her top five CliftonStrengths are Learner, Intellection, Input, Significance, and Achiever, and her Kolbe A Index is 7-4-7-3.