I love taking personality tests.
The day Smitty and I found an old book about personality types based on astrological sign in her parents’ attic was one of our most fun sleepovers. I still remember laughing so hard as we read about our supposed destined traits (and then, of course, as we looked up our romantic compatibilities with our crushes of the day). And I love Myers-Briggs so much that I’ve taken the whole, long, pay-for-it test twice, and honestly? I’d take it again today in heartbeat.
I love answering questions about myself and then reading about myself. Yeah, I hear it. It’s possible I’m a little self-centered. (Is there a personality test for that??) But more than being obsessed with myself, I think my love of personality tests comes from the desire to be known.
Isn’t that why most of us love those quizzes? To feel like someone finally gets us?
Whether it’s selfishness or a more universal desire for connection and understanding, the fact remains that I love personality tests. (Did I mention that?) So when my pastor sent our staff a link and access code to the Strengths Finder test this week, I was excited to take it right away.
Of course, since procrastination is an unfortunate yet large part of my personality, I didn’t exactly take it right away. But I took it today, okay?!
I couldn’t wait to get my results and compare them to everyone else’s. See, I’m quite sure loving personality tests isn’t solely selfish because the majority of my co-workers love them, too. And they’re truly selfless people who I adore. [So there.]
Since I joined my church staff last spring, I’d been hearing about who had the gift of that and who had this strength. I already knew that I’m an I, and much as I want to be a Lion, I’m really more of a mythical LioBeavter. (That’s an I for Influence in the DISC personality test, and I’m a bizarro mash-up of the Lion, Beaver, Otter and Golden Retriever in Smalley’s personality test with no one type showing up stronger than the other.) But today I would finally learn more about my strengths.
Crossing my fingers that the results would be accurate, I started clicking away. I made it through the questions, though they were – typical for a good personality test (and yes, there is a difference) – difficult and convoluted on occasion. Finally, I clicked “Next” for the last time and then I waited for the site to tally my results.
Strengths Finder didn’t let me down. It called me an Activator and Communicator, with minors in Responsibility, Input and Belief. That seemed about right.
Later in the afternoon my friends and I were comparing our results, and Stephanie mentioned that one of her top strengths is Empathy. We talked about what that means, because I think of myself as highly empathetic. After all, I will cry over any injury, illness, pregnancy, promotion, lost pet, sick child, disappointment or excitement you share.
But, I had to concede, though I marked “strongly describes me” on every question regarding things like, “I cry a lot,” my answer to other questions quickly revealed my bias toward myself over others.
Still, I’ve always been empathetic. Just ask my mom, who will immediately whip out the story about Preschool Me. Reportedly, I came home from preschool crying one day. She asked me what was wrong and it turned out I was upset because my friend had gotten in trouble. Enter my life-long belief that I am empathetic.
[I could give you other examples of my soft, empathetic heart here. But that seems like bragging and since we've already covered my self-centeredness ad nauseum today, I think I will pass.]
After I sent my Strengths Finder report to my pastor (because we’re going to talk about all of our results at length soon . . . I can’t wait!), he came in to chat with me. We talked for a bit about how my results were similar to someone else’s and how that looks in each of us (and how it explains why we get along so well). Then I mentioned my surprise at not getting Empathy like Stephanie did.
You know what he said? Nothing. He said nothing, because he was laughing too hard! Laughing! At me!
I suppose that’s fair, since we’ve discussed before that neither of us has the spiritual gift of mercy. Which I suppose translates into me not being empathetic. But, but, but . . .
I really thought I was empathetic!
After he [finally] stopped laughing (not to worry, I was laughing, too), we discussed how my not-quite-empathy stems from my tendency to make things about myself. So when you tell me your cat died, I AM sad for you – because I know how sad I would be if my cat died.
I’m not going to lie. I still think that’s called empathy. But it’s possible that, despite my many years of experience taking personality tests, I don’t know myself quite as well as I thought. And it’s so very interesting to me to think about different personality types focusing on self versus others or viewing people as a means to an end versus people as an end.
Or something. My mind is still spinning a bit from this revelation. The Input part of me wants to learn more, more, more about these personality types, while the Belief part of me is shaken by the idea I might not be as well-versed on who I am as I’d thought.
Meanwhile, the Communicator figured I might as well write a blog post about the whole thing!
Have you ever been surprised by the results of a personality test? What’s your favorite part of your own personality? And what’s your favorite personality test?