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Are we born with a personality?

Are we born with a personality?

If we really are born with a personality, as many psychologists tell us, there is plenty of evidence to makes us think so, but also plenty to argue against it.

If I were a Badass Orange person, for example, you just might agree I was probably born with great physical abilities and an adventurous nature. I would tell you that, yes, I worked hard to get skillful, but that I honestly feel that I was gifted at birth with a terrific body type, a bottomless cauldron of endless energy, and a ridiculous comfort level with risky behavior. I’d say, yes, you are looking at a naturally born Badass. I am Orange, Orange, Orange.

On the other hand, we just might discover that our individual temperaments are nothing like our parents’. Our siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and our own children have core values in direct contrast to our own. How could our own DNA manifest itself so differently? How is it, then, that we are ‘born’ with this personality?

I challenge you to look back over your whole life for just a minute. How different are you, really, from the kid in grade school you remember? Was your main core value that much different from now? For example, if you were dependably responsible then, are you still that way now? I mean, is ‘dependable responsibility’ still more important than harmony seeking, than knowledge and competence, or than personal freedom? If that principal core value remains the same, there’s a case to be made that you came into the world with a strong DNA-based temperament. You always were and always will be Gold, a Loyalist, a logistical thinker.

Needless to say, you were a hostage of your parents until your teenage years, so you have to wonder how much of ‘who you are’ comes from a natural temperament and how much comes from the intense nurturing that your parents and community thrust upon you for over a dozen years. All those people influenced your thinking, your philosophy of life, your religion, even your politics and career choices. You have to ask yourself, “How many of my life choices came from the real me, from my innate temperament, and how many were influenced by the society around me?

Whose life?

So am I living my own life, or someone else’s idea of life?”

To paraphrase Rene Descartes, we can’t live until we reject everything we’ve been taught and then begin to design our own life. Descartes’ thinking must have come from the realization that a real, innate self needs to trump the weavings of the cultures swirling around us in order for us to truly fulfill our destiny. Ah, there’s the word: Destiny. And I don’t think the word ‘destiny’ here means ‘pre-destined fate’ that we really cannot control, but a pre-determined set of talents and intelligence that need to blossom under our own control, in the face of the cultures around us, to find the best possible path for a lifetime.

So do I think we were all born with a temperament? You betcha. Both nature and nurture contribute to who we are as whole persons, but I am certain our brains and bodies arrive with some kind of pre-installed hard drive (temperament) that develops into a whole character through configurations with the apps of life.

The trick, I think, is to discover the right path early in life rather than later. And if it’s clear our own path differs significantly from the paths of the gang that lives around us, our choice to follow our own right path will probably demand a ton of uncomfortable honesty and raw courage.

Can clothes reveal your personality?

Can clothes reveal your personality?

Can you guess a person’s personality type by their clothing? I spent hours in crowded airports the last few weeks and I am convinced that even amateur personality typers can eyeball clothing and correctly guess a personality type at 50% or higher. Yes, you can guess wrong, sometimes more than 50%, but do pat yourself on the back and let yourself to be pleasantly surprised when you find out you can nail the personality of lots of people by noticing their clothes.

For me, Blue Gurus are the easiest to spot. Dead giveways of course are tie-dye skirts and loosely tied-up hair, but Blues would be horrified if you stereotyped the lot of them as hippies. Still, twenty-first century Blues can tend to wear not-so-trendy “comfort clothes” that hippies surely favored, like loose-fitting shirts and skirts of soft and simple fabrics — more outdoorsy cotton and wool than silky or sythetic flash. Notice soft functional shoes and sandals, minimal earthy jewelry, as well as satchels with wide shoulder straps.

Gold Loyalists aren’t so difficult to spot either. Obviously the ultimate Gold attire is trendy-conservative to the point of looking “uniform”. Relax, Golds, that too is an unfair stereotype. But face it, Gold clothing tends to be good quality yet economical, not-over-the-top trendy, appropriate, clean, matching, color-coordinated, and acceptable for each setting. The Gold “package” says “I care” and “I am careful about my outward appearance.” This includes manicuring, near-to-trendy hair, and tasteful quality jewelry. Golds are modest and of course want to look sexy “when appropriate,” but rarely over-the-top.

I think Greens are the hardest to spot. Yes, many dress like stereotypical “geeks” with more function than fashion — unashamed to wear a Go-Pro camera or Google glasses, mismatched shorts and shirts, ugly but comfortable shoes, and unkempt hair. On the other hand, perfectionistic Green Geeks who are sensitive about their image of careful competence might choose to wear attractive and comfortable outfits that range from formal business to less formal. They might pro-actively choose what’s professional and what makes them approachable. In any case, many Greens will agree they don’t want their clothing calling attention to their physical selves over their good ideas and accomplishments.

Orange Badasses dress with style — personal style. Their clothes tend to scream “I am free and I am me.” I am a star athlete or a cool musician or a dancer or the best carpenter in the world or the bravest fire fighter or the sexiest dude in town or the most laid-back artist on the river. If any personality type is over-the-top, it can be an Orange Badass — creative, colorful, tattooed, very “today,” or one of a kind — in any case, cool — a player, a free agent, a physical star, an action seeker, a risk-taker, or even an introverted but free spirit. You’ll be surprised at how many startlingly creative dressers are introverted Oranges. Like Badass words and behavior, Orange clothes can make a stand that “rules are for other people.”

Try guessing the four personality types in crowded places. I prefer airports because all Colors will show up there for sure. Even better are crowds of tourists in other countries. If you really want a slice of society, check out shopping malls in December.

Guess a stranger’s temperament – right now!

Guess a stranger’s temperament – right now!

Guess a color. Right now? Everybody wants me to reveal how to spot a person’s Color (temperament) without a test or survey. Better yet, they would love to be able to guess a personality type in just a matter of minutes. Think about it. How great would it be to assess people during a short business meeting or over that first drink at a bar!?

FYI, if the stranger next to you now wants to actually take the survey, it’s free. Go to http://jackdermody.com/free-survey.

How good are YOU? Do you think you yourself are pretty good at guessing a person’s Color the first few minutes you meet? Here is “my take” here and PLEASE let me know if you agree, disagree, or have something to add to the conversation.

The bad news is I will get laughed off the stage if I sell tickets to poor souls who actually think I am good at guessing Colors.

Sizing folks up for temperament can be a tough call.

Don’t know what the four Colors mean? Go to http://jackdermody.com/4w.html.

Greens. I get Greens wrong all the time – those clever clones of Sherlock Holmes. Countless Green rationals develop diplomatic social skills and pleasant tones of voice, shrouding tough logic and demanding connectivity of concepts. However, they do give themselves away by wearing highly efficient and job-oriented clothing rather than the fashionable. It’s no surprise that the corporate garb in “Greenland,” e.g., at Google and utility companies, favors jeans and t-shirts. They will be the least self-conscious about geeky eyeglasses, index cards in shirt pockets, and tools attached to belts.

Blues. Blues are pretty easy to spot. Blue body language can be gentle, welcoming, and vulnerable. The clothes they choose tend to be soft, flowing, unique, and highly comfortable rather than efficient, trendy, or “expected.”

Oranges. Oranges stand out like the artists and athletes they tend to be. They do care about how they look – a lot. Orange body language screams pride, energy, movement, and comfort with their own sexuality.

 Golds. Obedient Golds wear the corporate uniform, whatever it is. If you ask them, they want to fit in and do so with taste and care. Gold body language is rarely flamboyant.

 How good are the odds now? So much for first impressions. With the information you’ve just been given, you just might be right about 30-50% of the time.

 Have more time for a first impression? If you actually get to have a conversation with these folks the first time you meet, other clues pop up.

 Greens. Greens may freeze up with small talk and will prefer to deliver facts and carefully considered analyses. You know that they have found you interesting if they keep asking questions as you speak. Otherwise, don’t waste your time feeling sorry for yourself if they clam up or find an excuse to move away from you.

Blues. Blues enjoy light conversation, including personal stuff and philosophical flights of fancy. They move easily from topic to topic and tend to listen as much as talk. Don’t be surprised that they look into your eyes more than the other types – and even touch you from time to time.

Oranges and Golds. Oranges and Golds (75% of the population) tend to get queasy if abstract conversations (preferred by Greens and Blues) begin to take a lot of time. Both Orange and Golds prefer dealing with concrete ideas.

Oranges normally prefer action over conversation, but will engage if the talk is lighthearted, funny, fun, or somehow riveting, such as with sports talk. Oranges are more likely to use “colorful” language than the others.

Golds enjoy process talk, like a Grisham novel, in which they remark about the way things work, the steps of a story, the highlights of a trip, the design of a house, … you get the idea.

 Be more accurate. Go with TWO Colors. Okay, there you have it. If I could recommend anything, I’d say try to guess a person’s first TWO Colors. That way, you can adjust the conversation to the strengths and values of both Colors and probably find you are being well received.

Your turn to chime in. What do you think? What is YOUR experience? Write me at dermody@cox.net.

You Get Fired Because They Don’t Like You

You Get Fired Because They Don’t Like You

“You get hired because they like you, and fired because they don’t.” Have you heard that before? You can read all the books about personnel practices till the cows come home, but the truth is that likeable people probably trump difficult folks most of the time.
Think about it. Between two average employees, all things being equal, the annoying person will get fired first.
And it’s not hard to end up being labeled as “an annoying person.” For example, an overly spontaneous, lighthearted Orange accountant can be driving the fastidious Gold folk nuts. The Gold accountants can be so focused on keeping their Excel sheets perfect that they see Orange flippancy and breeziness as a threat to order in the office – never mind that the Orange work output itself may be measurably perfect.
So what to do? Long before we would face something as drastic as a layoff, we all might want to monitor how we are being perceived by others. Being an appealing person pays off in raises, opportunities, and even the best parties, wouldn’t you say? To get back to the example above of the overly-lighthearted Orange accountant, he can probably learn to separate office behavior from off-the-clock behavior. He needs to be himself, of course, but also find out what behaviors get the best results for himself and for the team. Ironically Golds and Oranges speak similar “concrete” languages, but Golds definitely want to hear the language that best adheres to social norms. Sometimes a “behavior adjustment” is only a matter of small adjustments and can be more comfortable than expected. Besides, every Orange person soon knows who his allies are in the workplace and who he can let his hair down with – both on and off the clock, right?
So the lesson here is that just a little behavior monitoring every day can pretty much guarantee you a warm spot in the hearts of hirers and firers when times get tough.

Why is 4W better than other workplace personality programs?

Why is 4W better than other workplace personality programs?

The most common criticism of  workplace personality training programs is that they are long on insight and short on how-to’s. In other words, they help participants to understand themselves and others better, but provide very few actual skills for improving relationships, increasing productivity, or raising team performance. 4W delivers the insights AND the tools that will produce the right results.