I feel so truly blessed to be able to speak to audiences all over the continent on a lot of different topics. I love to talk, and I love to travel, and to be honest it sometimes seems surreal that I get paid to speak in really fun places.
But there is something so different and so special about being asked to speak at a MOPS group. MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) came into my life at a time when I really needed it. I had just moved to Reno in 2001 and found my life as a stay at home mom of two babies who couldn’t talk was not meeting the social needs of my extroverted Red/Yellow personality. But we had just moved I didn’t have any friends yet. MOPS not only changed my life, I think it saved my life…and probably my children’s lives and my marriage too.
Speaking at MOPS groups is one way I can still “give back” to an organization that meant so much to me, even though I’ve “graduated” out and am well beyond the preschool parenting years myself. Yesterday I was asked to share about family traditions, specifically for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
My power point was essentially a “scrapbook” style presentation where I shared photos of our family through the years and shared stories. I hope that I was able to encourage these young moms that having family traditions is important, but that they should choose wisely. It’s okay not to do the same thing every year. And it’s okay to drop traditions that you don’t enjoy or to add something new that you think you will like.
Even though the group I spoke to yesterday was relatively new, and even though it was in a building that I had never been to before, as soon as I walked in I felt like I was Home. MOPS moms are connected through the sounds of crying babies and the chatter of much-needed adult conversation. I’m so glad that speaking at MOPS has stayed one of my traditions.
Have you ever found yourself asking one of these questions? (To yourself or maybe even to me?)
- Why study personalities?
- Isn’t this just another way of stereotyping people?
- If people are “unique” why try to label them?
- How would this really help me?
Great questions. Obviously I am passionate about understanding personality types or I wouldn’t write books about and travel all over to teach workshops and give seminars. I have seen the difference that this knowledge has made in my own life, and that is why I continue to study and teach about personalities.
The funny thing about stereotypes is that often they are rooted in truth. And yes, people are unique….but research and experience also tells us that there are some general patterns that tend to be true. If you understand these patterns and look for them in yourself and in others, you just might be able to understand people better.
So how does this help in “real life” situations?
I feel very fortunate to work in a business/industry where for the most part I get to choose the clients I work with. As a Red/Yellow, I could decide that I only want to work with other Red/Yellows…people who think like me. But not only is that limiting in a practical and financial sense, I have the ability to understand other personality types, so why not work with different people? Instead of seeing other personalities and wondering how I can make them understand my strengths and my needs…why not embrace their unique strengths?
Last weekend I worked with a couple who were both very Green. As a Red, I could have become very frustrated by some of the lack of information or decisions made late in the planning process. Instead, I chose to see their strengths. They were easy going. They were nice. They cared about the guests who were there with them and were flexible enough to change things when it seemed to be in the best interest of others. I can work with that.
I have almost no Blue traits whatsoever. It would be easy for me to shy away from working with Blue clients. But what if I could embrace their “Blueness” (figuratively speaking, of course) and learn to love all the extra questions, the bullet pointed lists, and the extra attention to detail? That shouldn’t overwhelm me…that should make me grateful.
One answer to the “Why Personalities?” question is simply that focusing on understanding others helps make me a better person.
How about you? Why did you finish reading this article? How does this help you in business and in life?