What’s On Your Tool Belt?

We all have access to the same tools. A person’s Type determines where the tools are located on the person’s Type Tool Belt. So the better question is: where are the tools on your Tool Belt? The four functions  – Sending, iNtuition, Thinking, and Feeling – are the tools. A person’s preferred tools are on the font of the Tool Belt, easy to get to and easy to use. Because they are easy to get to, the person is likely to both use the tools frequently and to develop skills with these tools.

Our non-preferred tools are on the back of the Tool Belt. They are less conscious and consequently harder to reach, and sometimes we forget they are there. We tend not to develop as much skill with these tools and many forget to use them, even when doing so would yield better results.

What does all this mean? It means that knowing one’s own Type is empowering. Knowing where one’s tools are means a person will likely have greater ability to discern when using a non-preferred tool will yield better results. And, knowing one’s Type helps the person minimize the risk that lack of awareness or skill with regard to a non-preference will derail success.

LEARN YOUR TYPE

Transforming Annoyance Into Appreciation

“Transforming annoyance into appreciation of others” (as one of my clients put it) is easier if you know and understand the differences in preferences and personalities. That’s true. Understanding yourself gives you context for understanding others. The more you know about yourself, the easier it is to have compassion for others because you recognize that no one is perfect and that we all have blind spots.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), I believe, is one of the best assessments for creating a framework for understanding yourself and others’ motivations, behavior, and needs. The MBTI is based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type, which is a theory of personality based on preferences. When you understand your Type, you can manage yourself so that you are more fulfilled and effective while being less stressed.
Type has been very important for my personal and professional development. When I changed careers in 2002, Type helped me understand why my former career wasn’t a fit. Now it helps me better self manage as well as help clients build their own foundation for understanding.
I’ve noticed that many people marry their opposite or almost opposite Type. I suspect this happens not only because we are attracted to our opposites but because spouses (like colleagues) can cover each other’s blind spots. On the other hand, it also means that spouses approach things differently, which can cause friction. I know, hard to imagine a little friction in a marriage! The trick is to appreciate the differences rather than dismiss the other person as being off misguided or having poor judgment. This is true for marriages, teams and any work or personal relationships.
Better self-management affects the big decisions about career and the workplace. People report that they’re more satisfied when they choose career paths in which they are able to use their preferences or strengths. And while organizational culture doesn’t have to be the same  person’s Type to be a fit for that person, people are more fulfilled when the job and the organizational culture support and value their contributions and strengths, which are rooted in their preferences.
In my coaching practice, clients reveal how hard they are on themselves for being challenged by certain aspects of their work or life. They’re hard on others, too, and this perpetuates a defeatist attitude and blocks effective teamwork. The upshot is that when a person moves from annoyance to acceptance of his or her own or one of the team member’s struggles, the person (and everyone) can focus on the solution.

Don’t Get Caught In Your Own Blind Spot!

We all have strengths; we excel! And, there are tasks which we aren’t quite as good at; they are difficult for us and require a lot of focus. This is where we often make mistakes or even run the risk of others thinking we’re “sloppy” or inept in some way. It’s not that we’re inept. All that it means is the task is in our blind spot and we haven’t yet devised a strategy for ensuring it doesn’t cause conflict or derail success.

A task that is difficult, but not challenging in a fun way, is in a blind spot. Examples include giving direct feedback, giving too much or not enough direction, failing to delegate, paralysis in making certain kinds of decisions. So what do you do to fix a blind spot? After you’ve identified your blind spot, you don’t exactly fix it, but you learn to anticipate when this blind spot might get in the way of success and develop a strategy for success. Ask yourself, when might the blind spot potentially interfere with your success? And then strategize: figure out what to do instead!

We all have different blind spots and will develop a range of strategies. Let’s say you excel at handling precarious situations that require carefully navigating emotionally challenging issues. Your focus on how circumstances impact others allows you to foster harmony in most situations. But when you have to deliver feedback that could be perceived as negative, you’d rather not do it. You procrastinate. Other things are more important; there isn’t time… You get the idea. It’s time to strategize. Your strategies for success could include asking for advice and modeling your approach after a technique you’ve seen someone else successfully use.

Seeing your own blind spots is important; but just as important is recognizing that others have blind spots as well! Recognize, but not criticize. And don’t let yourself get frustrated. If you’re compassionate and understand that others are not trying to aggravate you intentionally (or even passively), you might actually help them shed light on their blind spots and strategize together. Remember, none of this is directed at you; it is after all, a blind spot!