Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

Can you be too strong? The answer is, “yes.” Maybe a better way to say that is, “A strength can be taken too far, to the point where it becomes a weakness.” There is a very good psychological test based on this called The Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI). The SDI addresses motivation and is based on Relationship Awareness Theory, which has as one of its four premises

Strengths, when overdone or misapplied, can appear as weaknesses.

 This is something I see in my teaching and consulting practice routinely. This may sound a bit odd, but trust me, it isn’t. So what is this all about?

Remember the Peter Principle series from a few blogs back? You might recall the Peter Principle states:

People are promoted to their level of incompetency.

With those previous blogs the focus was on temperament as viewed by Jung and Myers and Briggs. Temperament reflects how our brain is wired.

With the SDI Dr. Elias Porter, PhD, takes a different approach looking at motivation and whether or not a person is driven by a sense of altruism, assertiveness, analysis, or flexible (a combination of the three). From their names you can guess what approach a person would take if it is their dominant or native trait.

So how can a strength be taken too far? Good question. Imagine I score “flexible” on the SDI. If the heat is on and a decision is needed I might look too wishy-washy for you as the pressure builds. In fact, that will be the truth if I am spending all my time looking for the “sweet spot” of the decision and am ignoring the fact time or money is running out.

This reasoning carries forward to the other motivational types as well:

  • The altruistic person gets so worried about how everyone will feel they become indecisive;
  • The assertive person runs head-long into a decision unaware of the risks involved;
  • The analytical person just never has enough information to make a decision.

To make matters more challenging, when under pressure a person can “move” and shift to another SDI position. For example, the altruistic person may move to the more assertive position and become dictatorial – all in the name of helping everyone. You can have some fun thinking about how some of the other shifts play out and people you know who act that way.

There are several takeaways from this:

  • Try and walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. See if you can see things through their eyes.
  • Remember that people can shift their attitude, opinion, and approach to a situation when under pressure. They aren’t necessarily being two-faced, they may just be responding to the pressure and trying to do what they think is best.
  • Watch your own behavior. It is easy to feel justified with one’s approach and lack awareness that we are changing our attitude and how we deal with others without having any conscious awareness of it. It can all be done blindly in the belief of what is “best.”
  • Finally, too much of one thing can create difficulties. Try and take it easy and leave space for others.

This was a short run-through of only one aspect of the SDI. I strongly encourage you to explore the SDI. It is a simple, practical profiling test that yields good information.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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As the Paradigm Shifts #V: Vulnerability

by Rosie Kuhn on September 21, 2011

You must have seen it coming: after all of these weeks …

From the moment we are born we are vulnerable to – well, to everything. Very quickly, and as best we can we begin to tap into strategies that keep us invulnerable to starvation for nourishment and nurturing. We begin to calculate –developing strategic ways to get what we need and perhaps what we want. Our parents can tell a cry that means a diaper needs changing from a cry that says I’m hungry. We learn very quickly how to take care of the situation and minimize vulnerability.

As calculating as we can be, there comes a moment when we are whacked upside the head with the proverbial  2×4, which knocks us senseless and into an even more shrewd way of being in order to avoid any further vulnerability. We continually build on this until we’ve well established, what Tracy Goss calls, our winning strategy. She calls it a winning strategy because it keeps you winning at getting what you want, when you want; until it doesn’t. At some point it becomes clear that this winning strategy limits what’s possible and though you remain invulnerable, which seems like a good thing, you are unable to access what’s necessary to have what you say you want. The only way to shift this process is to willingly risk being vulnerable – only in service to what you say you want.

Remember earlier when I talked about that moment when you decided to be invulnerable? In that instant what occurred that had you make that decision was too painful and too challenging for a little kid to handle. As a kid you had no one to tell you that you are going to be okay. In that moment you were all alone and alone you made that choice to protect yourself at all cost.

At some point in each lifetime we are required to meet again that moment when we have to be willing to risk what we couldn’t risk as a child. We have to trade invulnerability for what we say we want. Now, being an adult, we’ve had plenty of experiences where we calculatingly traded our invulnerability for vulnerability. Trying out for various sports, asking someone for a date, applying to colleges and jobs, asking for a raise; each of these were instances where you chose vulnerability in order to get what you wanted. This is a very good thing and indicates you know how to stretch and strengthen the muscles required to take the risk. What has us be able to risk some times and not others, in other words what has us be more vulnerable in some circumstances while not in others?

In the world of business the majority of us are walking around limited by our winning strategies, remaining invulnerable. This keeps us safe, secure and stable but also most of the time unfulfilled. I’ve begun working with a new client, Patricia, who has phenomenal skills in her line of business but is scared to death to risk losing the stability she’s created, even though she is terribly miserable in her work. She is not alone. Approximately four out of five individuals feel the same way as Patricia.

When Patricia thinks about quitting her job and changing careers she feels like a tiny incapable human being. In that moment she’s calling up the young child to be vulnerable. Think about it for just a moment. We approach this moment of risk as if we were that young innocent child, not the grown up that has risked many times before and come up successful.

The evidence is stacked up in your favor that you will survive taking risks. At the same time you hold on to that one instance in your life when all was lost (because you were only a little kid and didn’t have the wisdom of a grownup to deal with the fallout). You were lost and not yet found. Yes, not yet found.

When what’s at stake is more important to you then the safety of the prison you’ve built through the practice of invulnerability you are, in that moment, given the opportunity to find yourself. Lost or left behind, you can re-member and reclaim any and all aspects of the you, you left behind. It is an exquisite reunion, one you’ll never forget.

Patricia knows that hiding out within the walls that protect her will never replace the feeling of fulfillment she knows exists outside. In this moment, while you are reading this, she is calculating what’s at stake and if it’s worth the risk.

Our business, the work we bring to the world, I believe to be the most crucial aspect of self-expression. And, I also believe that self-expression, in whatever form that takes, is essential to thriving. To empower yourself and others to step out beyond the walls that only seemingly keep you safe, you create an opening in the current reality for a paradigm shift. You have no idea the positive repercussion that follows such an act. Even the slightest movement in the direction of what you want, which requires risk and faith, will reward you with a sense of accomplishment that is in itself a beautiful remuneration. Give it a try – what have you got to lose?

There is great value in investing in a thinking partner for yourself or for those you want to empower. According to statistics, hiring a coach is crucial to growing yourself and your business. Reading pieces like this is a start, yet without action nothing changes.

Enjoy the adventure!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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Flexible Focus #49: The eight frames of life: Personal

by William Reed on April 14, 2011

The Mandala Mirror

In the Mandala view, it is in the Personal frame of life that you meet yourself and address your personal issues. This is a space for reflection, but of a particular kind, and this is where the Mandala Chart provides a unique perspective.

We spend a lot of time interacting with the things and people outside of us. We need to spend some time as well exploring the world within.

Reflection is deep thinking. Looking deep into the reflection, rather than just at the surface of the mirror. This is a space for clarity and insight, not for melancholy or self-importance. You meet yourself in the mirror, the person that has been with you from the beginning and will be with you until the end.

You may think you know yourself pretty well by now, but ask yourself deeper questions concerning your mission and core message, and you will understand the need for deeper reflection to discover your living legacy. Your personal happiness is related in part to the time you spend in front of this Mandala Mirror, and what you do about it as a result.

The Mandala Mirror is quite different from the mirror of Narcissus, the proud and self-admiring hunter of Greek mythology, who died for being unable to leave his own reflection in the water. The Greek roots of the word Narcissus mean sleep or numbness, a far cry from the clarity of self-knowledge.

Personal Growth

Personal is an adjective. It works best when it modifies a noun, such as personal growth, personal development, personal happiness.

Personal development is about helping yourself to change in positive ways. Many books have been written in the self-help genre, but one author, Tom Butler-Bowdon, has undertaken a remarkable project which took ten years to complete, in which he read, reviewed, and summarized the essence of 50 classic books, from ancient to modern, in each of five categories. He published these in a series: 50 Self-Help Classics, 50 Success Classics, 50 Spiritual Classics, 50 Psychology Classics, and 50 Prosperity Classics.

What kind of a perspective does such a massive project give you? His selection spans world religions, cultures, philosophies, and even centuries of time. Each classic book is summarized, culling out the key points, including comments to put the author and the book in the context of why it was written. Each review includes a list of books which were influenced by that classic or share a similar view. Certainly a great deal of reflection went into the 50 classics project, and the author takes you on a reflective journey through the books of its leading lights.

Tom Butler-Bowdon spoke at the Speakers for Business Showcase 2011, at which he discussed the perspective this project gave him on such important topics as motivation and personal growth. In this talk he says he learned through this project that real personal transformation and lasting change is far more likely to come through the disciplined application of the strategies revealed in these works, rather than the emotional enthusiasm espoused by many motivational speakers in this field.

You can download a 50 Classsics PDF Mandala Chart showing the covers of his books and website which I created as an overview of his work.

Make a Wish List

The Personal frame of the Mandala Chart does not need to be used exclusively for deep reflection. It can also be used for constructive daydreaming, positive thinking, and image training to improve your condition or performance.

This is perhaps one of the most enjoyable uses of the Mandala Chart, because you get to use your imagination in the service of making yourself a better person, and living a better life. This is best achieved of course by helping and improving the lives of others. There is no happiness in hedonistic self-absorption.

But rather than drifting in fantasy, it is best to capture your wishes on a list. The Mandala Chart helps you organize your list into categories, and focus on implementation as well. Your wishes might be related to improvements in your character, behavior, or performance. The discipline of gradual improvement and repetition is also important. You don’t just wave a magic wand and expect your wish to come true.

Because presumably you will wish for things that you want, the element of pleasure and anticipation can lend just enough to incubate your wishes until they hatch. Then you can cultivate and nurture them as they grow. This is where dreams come true.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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Character and Personality #4: Time

by Gary Monti on July 27, 2010

Would you like to quickly determine where synergies and problems exist in an organization? Come along to see how knowing individual’s temperaments can help predict possible outcomes in situations.

Traits

Temperament refers to preferred ways of thinking. Traits refer to preferred behaviors. They correlate well. Let’s look at a mythical company with the following temperament mix:

CEO – NT (intuitive thinker)

Senior staff member – NF (intuitive feeler)

Operations manager – SJ (sensing judger)

Programmer – SP (sensing perceiver)

None of them want their time wasted. The problem is with their perception of time. Here is the order in which they prioritize past, present, and future. Also, their nicknames have been included to give a hint as to where their priorities lie.

TRAIT Nickname Past Present Future
NT Field Marshal 2 3 1
NF Organizer 3 1 2
SJ Enforcer 1
SP Doer 1 2 3

So how does this play out in the work place? Take a look at the table below.

TRAIT Nickname Positive Traits
NT Field Marshal
  • Sees where the company can be in the future.
  • Sets standards and holds to them.
  • Delegates today’s activities to others.
  • Strategic thinker
  • Holds on to the vision throughout difficulties.
  • Leads the way and doesn’t waver.
  • Main interest is achieving dreams and accomplishments.
  • The past informs the future. Incorporates lessons-learned into future plans.
NF Organizer
  • Takes interest in others and how they are brought together to get things done.
  • Pays attention to the overall-balance among key factors
  • Puts “teeth” into the NT’s strategic plans.
  • Will look towards the future by focusing on generating cooperation today.
  • Works as a shock absorber between the NT and lower ranks.
SJ Enforcer
  • Focuses on NOW.
  • Stays on task and gets things done.
  • Knows the limits of available resources.
  • Tactically-oriented.
  • Supports the strategies that come down from above
SP Doer
  • Prefers a structure be presented within which work can be performed.
  • Wants to know what the orders are for getting work done.
  • Prefers others develop strategies.
  • Wants involved when tasks are defined.

As you have probably guessed by now, there can be a dark side to all this.

TRAIT Nickname Negative Traits
NT Field Marshal
  • Doesn’t hesitate to change on-going work in order to leverage the future.
  • Believes the project is complete at the moment of delegation.
  • Does not want to be distracted by problems from the present.
  • Risk management is for nay-sayers. It can distract from the future.
  • Positive criticism downplayed or ignored.
  • Negative criticism emphasized.
  • Little interest in people and their requirements.
  • Can ride roughshod over others and have a short memory regarding those behaviors
NF Organizer
  • Can lose sight of the need to mend problems from the past since there is push for today and the future.
SJ Enforcer
  • Rules are to be enforced, not questioned.
  • The past can’t be fixed and the future is out of reach so don’t waste time on either of them.
  • Finds strategizing, planning, and spending time on what-ifs boring.
  • Wonders if strategies are sane.
SP Doer
  • Wonders if the plan is sane.
  • Can be rebellious yet wants no risk.
  • Can go in own direction without informing others.
  • Gauges work and others based on how the SP was treated in the past.
  • Change is viewed with suspicion. The past needs to be resolved.

The Leadership Challenge

You can see that avoiding wasting time can quickly turn into a multi-dimensional problem quickly. Taking the time to understand others pays huge dividends by providing clear vision as to strengths and limits in situations. With that as a base planning and execution can proceed realistically.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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