Start every day off with a smile and get it over with.
W. C. Fields
Empowering daily routines are what drive success. I recently did an inventory of my daily activities and concluded that they could be tweaked to add a little bit more enjoyment and productivity to my existence. I realized that I was a little slow coming out of the starting gate (I grew up around thoroughbred races and my dad always emphasized the need to get off to a good start in horse racing and in life). I wasn’t accomplishing much in the morning and that led to a sluggishness feeling that was staying with me throughout the day. I’m self employed so I have a lot of latitude as to how I structure my day. The ideal day begins with a mix of writing, contemplation and planning. I need a certain amount of solitude with no interruptions before I’m ready to engage with people and take on the world. I decided to wake up a little earlier (4:45) and see if I could find a coffee shop nearby (too much hustle and bustle at home; Kathy is also an early riser and our condo just isn’t big enough for the desired early morning solitude). After checking out 7 local coffee shops, I found one that opens at 5:30 and it a perfect fit for my needs (comfortable chair, good lighting and low unobtrusive background music). I basically get the place to myself for about 2 hours. It is amazing the amount of creative work one can accomplish if one is allowed to focus with no interruptions. I’m getting so much more done and the feeling of accomplishment energizes me for the rest of the day.
I enjoy learning about psychometrics or personality profiling tests that can provide insights into our true nature. The Myers Briggs test (measures psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions) and the Enneagram (a model of human personality using the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff – Russian spiritualist) are two that come to mind. The shortcomings of both systems is that they pigeon hole people into narrow arbitrary categories which to my way of thinking is way too simplistic. As an example I’m an introvert but most of my life I’ve made my living in professions that require a high degree of extrovertism (marketing, sales, promotion, lecturing/public speaking etc). People who don’t know me well would be surprised that I test out as a strong introvert. Kathy who makes her living travelling the country promoting and recommending quality children’s literature is also deemed an introvert. A large part of her job is schmoozing and socializing which is somewhat out of character for an introvert. So I think that the process to accurately profile people has to be a little bit more complicated and sophisticated than these tests would lead you to believe.
I did come across a profiling system that acknowledges the complexity of trying to arbitrary classify people into a limited number of slots. The Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument is an assessment tool that has participants answer a series of questions that doesn’t categorize people by personality but attempts to show which of four (as defined below) brain quadrants they tend to use more often:
- The A quadrant (cerebral/left hemisphere) relates to analytic thinking (collecting data, understanding how things work etc.)
- The B quadrant (limbic left hemisphere) relates to implementation thinking (organizing and following directions, for example).
- The C quadrant (limbic right hemisphere) relates to social thinking (expressing ideas, seeking personal meaning).
- The D quadrant (cerebral right hemisphere) relates to future thinking (looking at the big picture, thinking in metaphors).
The Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument acknowledges that everyone is capable of using each of these thinking styles. It tries to indicate or determine which of these styles is dominant in any individual. If you understood how individuals mentally approach tasks, it might help you grasp how effective people are at work, play or any other pursuit. I am not sure that any profiling test has all the answers but I do find the different approaches fascinating.
Perhaps there are as many different personalities as there are people on the planet. That’s the most open minded approach and prevents you from mistakenly type casting people.