If you know me, or read my columns for that matter, you won’t be surprised by the fact that I believe in self-improvement. Regardless of the nature and degree of our struggles or handicaps, I feel each of us has a daily opportunity to push out of our comfort zones as we grow into our ideal visions for our lives. Self-improvement often focuses on developing your weak areas into stronger ones. But what about assessing your strong areas and using them to your benefit?
I recently got a snapshot of my brain’s comfort level in various modes of thinking after taking an Emergenetics assessment. Emergenetics is a company that provides interested individuals or companies with a multiple-choice quiz, developed after years of brain and psychometric research, that reveals the areas of thinking in which one’s brain feels more comfortable, as well as those where it feels more “scratchy.” The Emergenetics quiz tests for three behavioral attributes (Flexibility, Assertiveness, and Expressiveness) and four thinking attributes (Social, Structural, Analytical and Conceptual). The results, laid out on a colorful and attractive sheet, allow employees to understand their innate strengths and weaknesses — not necessarily to show where one ought to improve, but rather to show how one might capitalize on his strengths to better serve the team.
While 90 percent of users who take the Emergenetics quiz end up having an innate preference in two or more of the four thinking modes, I was among the 10 percent who only has a preference in one area. The test says: You are a conceptual thinker. It’s your only true preference of thought. The quote at the top of the summary says, “I am parallel parked in a diagonal universe.” Funny as that may be, I can relate!
I see the big picture in vivid color. I love creating what isn’t already there. I am not one for hammering out details. I’d prefer to conceive innovative projects and imagine the outcomes. None of this was a surprise, but I did get a bit unnerved to realize that I am especially “scratchy” when asked to think structurally and analytically.
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It’s why I often act from my gut, and face potential consequences later. It’s why I table exciting ideas once I realize after much excitement that the planning, financing and execution are more than I can take on with confidence.
I almost let myself get down about the assessment results. But then I decided to look at them as a practical tool. I need people who are naturally inclined to think analytically and structurally in my corner. When I get one of my ideas, I need to take those people to lunch and get their feedback in those areas. And when they need to get creative or brainstorm out of the box, I will be happy to rattle off a couple of handfuls of ideas over coffee.
When we know where we are strong, we can share our strength. And when we know where we are weak, we can find those who are equipped to support us. No one is perfect. Even those rare Emergenetics folk that end up having a preference in all four thinking attributes would benefit from someone else’s perspective. Teamwork requires a commitment to growth, as well as a dose of humility and self-awareness from every member of the team. As we each work to be our best selves, let’s remember to surround ourselves with people who can support us in our weaknesses and utilize our strengths.