In the last 10 years, I have been subject to many different personality tests. From the Meyers-Briggs in high school to the Keirsey Temperament Sorter in Kelley School of Business’ freshman branding class, I have been fascinated with people’s ability to sort all of humanity into neat categories and to make seemingly accurate judgments based on those categories.
But I have not seen many people use personality tests to fulfill any kind of productive purpose in their lives.
Personality tests should be used as tools to understand oneself and grow further toward one’s potential.
Personality tests tend to have the same format: Ask a person several questions about values and priorities, use that test to put person in one of several categories, make dozens of sweeping claims about person based on that category.
I find the personality tests accurate and a little scary, but they tend to end with feel-good messages about the potential of the specific category and all the great people who were also in the category.
This may be because people only want to hear about the potential they have, and not about the problems they might have getting there.
Most of the times I have taken personality tests, I have taken them with others.
Either in classrooms or with groups of people I am working with, I hear many of the same phrases. “Wow this is so accurate,” “This is totally me,” “Hah, I’m the same as Abraham Lincoln.”
In my experience, very rarely does anyone point out a flaw they have, focus on the section about potential weaknesses, or even address that there are negatives to their personality type.
And why should they? It’s no fun to have some test point out what we do poorly.
However, if we want to get any sort of fulfillment out of these very accurate tests, we need to be able to look at our problems openly and honestly.
It is human to run away from the bad parts of who we are, but it is far from productive.
John Maxwell, one of the most respected experts on leadership and growth in the world, talks about problems and how they are actually opportunities for growth.
He says that problems allow us to grow better than anything else because they force us to change ourselves to deal with the problem, which better prepares us for the things we will encounter in the future.
One of my favorite quotes is by Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich.” He says, “Handicaps can be converted into stepping stones on which one may climb toward some worthy goal, unless they are accepted as obstacles and used as alibis.”
If we viewed our problems as stepping-stones toward growth, we would see only opportunities in our daily lives. Personality tests can be a great way to identify these flaws and problems, but only if they are used as tools for growth.
I challenge you to go online and take a personality test this week.
See all the potential you have because of who you are, but also recognize that the flaws can either propel you toward your potential, or forever hold you back from it.