Author Archive


When people ask me what I do and I mention assessments such as the MBTI, I get a variety of reactions. Some people’s eyes glaze over as they say “You what?” Obviously they have never experienced a personality assessment other than possibly a quiz in a magazine they may have done as a teenager. There are others who say “I did that once”, but have no idea which tool was used nor what their particular results indicated. The rare individual can rhyme off their results from a variety of assessment tools and indicate how they play out in their work life. What is common is that people who have done one of the temperament assessments or another 4 part ,model such as Social Styles will remember either the colour or an aspect of their type.

In a recent conversation, a woman was excited to talk about just how Gold she was – “off the charts” as she described her uber-organized style. She had a real sense of how those preferences suited the work she was in and just as aware of how it was a source of possible friction in her home life.

11. Temperament MatrixWhat occurred to me during our conversation was how useful a simple model was in a work context where people have something like colour to anchor their memory. Assessments of any kind are only of value if they are applied. What does this tell me about my strengths? What does it tell me about how others may perceive my actions? How can I become increasingly aware of my “blindspots”?

The other thought I had was that personal development is so important to me that at times I forget that some people could care less. Those of us who see the value in using tools to learn about ourselves and others, may readily see that having insights from a number of tools is simply a more meaningful approach to understanding. Those who value personal development are willing to take the time to learn about and apply more complex instruments.

So even though I have a personal preference for the distinctions made by the Step 2 version of the MBTI that gives a break down of 5 sub-pairs for each preference pair, some people simply want to know I am Gold and this is a good thing for my job. What works depends on the context and the interest of the people involved. Start wherever you are. KISS Keep it simple is sometimes the best motto.

Category : Other Assessments | Blog

People that like to think over-complicate things because it gives them more to think about.

This isn’t a direct quote but it comes close to the words Dr. Steve Reiss Professor of Psychology, used during his recent presentation in Chicago on his research on motivation. He turns previous models of motivation on their head. Reiss claims that motivation is a lot clearer and more direct than theorists have proposed. He further claims that emotions are not what motivates behaviour. Reiss has researched and scientifically validated 16 motives that are universal and encompass all aspects of needs, wants, values and desires.

In a blog post on Psychology Today Reiss explains:

I consider motives as goals, and motivation as the assertion of values. I pay some attention to emotions as indicators of whether or not motives are satisfied, but I don’t view emotions as motivational.

In the case of people who like to think, the motive has been labelled by Reiss as “intellectual curiosity”. He goes on to add that “the goal of curiosity is understanding; the emotion is wonder; and the value are ideas.”

Library shelves imagesOne distinction of Reiss’s work on motivation is that he has married his findings to various applications such as sports motivation, school, advertising and relationships. In a school setting, a person who is motivated by curiosity will seek multiple ways to find understanding. They will feel at home amongst books such as a library environment, they will buy and read books, they will explore ideas through research or on the internet. Satisfying their curiosity in one area will only spark more curiosity and more desire to understand. This motivation does not apply to every student. Someone who is motivated by Power may learn to receive awards.

Reiss tells us that the emotion of wonder does not play a role in predicting the behaviour of a person motivated by curiosity but that we need to look at the value they have for ideas and how they assert that value will give us an idea of their behaviour. Put them in an environment where things are done by rote and opportunities to explore ideas and think are restricted and the emotions associated with boredom, frustration and anger will indicate that the value is being thwarted. They may also not care about receiving recognition in the form of awards or money for learning.

Many people talk about emotion as an end goal…”I just want to be happy.” What gives one person happiness will not match another person’s motivational profile. When considering the role of emotion, observe that the emotion is an indicator of whether a person’s is fulfilling their desires or values or not. This will tell you what you need to know to motivate them. Don’t complicate it -it is that simple.

Category : Reiss Motivation Profile | Blog

Lovestache 325I painted this painting in response to the death of Jack layton, the leader of the New Democratic Party. It is not really a political painting. I like to think (no ego LOL) that it is about something larger. When Jack died there was a spontaneous outpouring from people from across Canada, from across the globe, from across income levels, from across ethnic, age or educational backgrounds and from across political affiliations.

What were they responding to? I had the thought that people were responding to the loss of someone with undeniable integrity. Here was a man who had a consistent and persistant message for years and years. He wasn’t angry or arrogant but outspoken and willing to educate anyone about the elements that were creating the current situation.

In a time when we are skeptical about our politicians and their motivations, Jack was a man we could trust. You might not like his politics or even the way he presented his message, but there was something that everyone recognized in him as being of value.

Trustache - the word cropThis was painted last summer and just yesterday – a week or so from the first day of Spring, someone pointed out that she had seen the graffiti “Trustache” that rhymes with Jack’s ever present moustache and read it differently. What she saw was TRUST ACHE and thought that the painting spoke to the “ache” that the voting population has for being able to TRUST our politicians and each other.

Some MBTI types use metaphor and even think in metaphor. This particular interpretation really touched me. Typically I say that I paint rather than call myself an artist, but having someone else see something deeper in your work is in the territory of art and what art contributes to the human experience.

Category : Communication | creativity | Uncategorized | Blog

Judging Perceiving 350

It is such a challenge to step outside of our own perceptual filters. Imagine you are a parent who believes that your preference for Judging and providing structure and organization for your family will keep them safe and on track. This is your duty as a good parent – right?

Imagine you are the teenager in this family. You have a clear preference for Perceiving and prefer to go with the flow. The emphasis and value placed on a structured life that is the hallmark of your family seems restrictive and positively boring. You know you are really responsible and that your last minute style suits how you like to work.

The juggling act that is parenting teenagers has an extra wrinkle in this family dynamic with this difference in Judging and Perceiving. Hopefully understanding each others type will pave the way for compassion. The parent’s preference for Judging is not an intentional plot to squash the teenager’s spirit, and the teenager’s preference for letting life happen rather than planning ahead does not mean that they are doomed to failure.

There are some wonderful opportunities for growth in this relationship if both individuals can stay open to learning from each other.

Category : Communication | MBTI Facts | Relationships | Uncategorized | Blog

Pressure, stress, no time, frustration….

This litany of complaints is felt to various degrees by many people but how and why we create this for ourselves differs from person to person.

Today I received this reminder form Riso and Hudson’s site.

Your Type Six EnneaThoughts for February 16th—

A major feature of your personality is to find more work for yourself as soon as the pressure lightens. Notice this tendency in yourself today. (Personality Types, 232)

Pile of cards

I had to laugh. Well because it is true for the most part. My theory is that we become accustomed to a certain state in our bodies and the adrenaline that is generated from having something on my plate lets me know that I am alive. I love the energy of “Get’ er done!!!” Or at least that’s my warped thinking about how accomplishing tasks gives me energy and life purpose .

The flow of chemicals after a long walk in nature, laughing with friends, watching a sunset or snuggling under a blanket with some classical music and a fire is equally enlivening. The trick is to be at choice and not on auto-pilot.

Category : enneagram | Blog

Susan Cain

How do you react to the child who clings to their parent’s leg or retreats into their “shell” at Hello? In an article posted at author Susan Cain extols us not to label quiet, sensitive children as “shy”. She claims that we categorize children into 2 camps “social” and “shy” and favour those who are more out-going.

Cain points out that the label “shy” is typically a misnomer given to Introverted children. They are more sensitive to external stimuli and they will hold back to take things in before engaging. This does not mean that they are anti-social but “differently social”.

She points out the benefits of how these children approach things.

Children with an alert, sensitive temperament also pay close attention to social cues and moral principles. By age 6, they cheat and break rules less than other kids do — even when they believe they won’t be caught. At 7, they’re more likely than their peers to be described by parents and caregivers as empathetic or conscientious.

Read the article on Susan Cain_ Don’t Call Introverted Children ‘Shy’ _ TIME Ideas _ TIME

Category : MBTI Facts | Blog


No one can teach like someone who’s been there. Lisa Petrilli is a self-disclosed Introvert as well as an accomplished business woman who has run a $750 million business and negotiated pharmaceutical contracts with top global companies. In an article in the Harvard Business Review Petrelli talks about the contribution that learning strategies for networking made to her early success.

The only people that I have met that really love networking are people who run networking organizations and events. The truth is that many Extraverts find networking a challenge, but not in the same energy-draining way that Introverts might.

Petrilli’s top tips:

  • Embrace having a preference for Introversion. She suggests that many Introverts in business see Introversion as something to overcome. Once a person embraces their natural inclination to spend time alone reflecting, they can refine their ideas and be prepared to make a powerful impact by what they have to contribute to the conversation.
  • Petrilli has reframed networking from a large scale social onslaught to a series of one on one conversations. The benefits include creating better business relationships and being less drained by the experience.
  • She suggests using Social Media or other ways of connecting to reach out ahead of an event to people who you know will be attending, telling them that you are looking forward to meeting them. This pre-introduction paves the way to making connecting more comfortable.
  • If this way of pre- connecting isn’t possible, Petrilli suggests that it made a difference to her when she realized that if she took the initiative in introducing herself that others responded positively. She saw the benefit to her in reaching out first as doing this on her terms, as opposed to the whim of others.
  • Her final piece of advice is to resist the temptation to go directly to the next  event or meeting. Taking a half an hour or so to recharge will allow you to be fully engaged in the next thing on your schedule. It will also help to keep  from building a negative story about networking being an energy drain.

Her final word…

Introverts who avoid networking are making a critical career mistake. Being an adroit networker is non-negotiable — and not as hard as it might seem.

Category : Best practices | Blog

Susan CainIn her book “The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance” author Susan Cain talks about the bias in society towards Extraverts and the impact that has on the 1/3 to 1/2 of the population that has a preference for Introversion. In an interview in Scientific America Cain discusses the fallacy of “groupwork” in schools, and points to research showing that it can reduce creativity and productivity. Cain likeness the way Introverts are treated today to the way women were viewed in the 50’s. She claims that this has led many to present themselves as Extraverts when their preference would clearly have them enjoying more time in solitude. Well worth a read.

The Power of Introverts_ A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance_ Scientific American

Category : Resources | Blog

ProjectionOh yes Virigina, we all project aspects of ourselves onto others – both the good and the shadow. This is an unconscious act propelled by our defense mechanisms. This focusing outward to look for the source of what is happening leads us to give positive attribution to others for the things that we like about ourselves and conversely hold some others who share the qualities that we deem as negative in a bad light. Each Enneagram type will project according to the worldview of their type: for example, sixes reading the danger in the other. Hopefully we grow to realize that we often misread reality in this way. Although we may recognize that projection exists,. this awareness does not give us a “Get out of jail free” card from projecting. We evolve, but few of us transcend our human foibles.

I recently had the pleasure of introducing the Enneagram to a Grade Nine student. I was “cautiously optimistic” in my own very Sixish way that this would be something that would be of value to her. Remember back in high school and the minefield of relationships that that environment holds… projection on steroids. My hope was that understanding the Enneagram would shift things from a view that “somethings wrong with me or somethings wrong with them” to having an understanding of nine different worldviews. In that light different behaviour and beliefs makes sense.

One of the things that we used were Riso and Hudson’s Enneagram cards which were valuable in having a conversation about various aspects of personality, how we all process differently and levels of health in individuals. It was exciting to see someone curious, quick and open to learning and the difference it made in having the Enneagram explain what might be happening in the interactions between various types. Perhaps the halls won’t of the local high school won’t appear as much as a jungle when armed with a roadmap of the inhabitants.

Just in case you think that you are far far removed from how you reacted in high school… When was the last time that you were in a meeting or waiting at a service counter and thought that someone was out to yank your chain on purpose? Hmmmm…..

Category : enneagram | Blog

Let’s suppose that you were told that Vengeance was one of your motivators. People often frame this in a more personal way as “I am vengeful.” Would you have a reaction to this in your profile?

When you are working with personality assessments, you need to make sure that everyone understands the meaning of the terminology being used in this particular circumstance. As a general rule the terms used to describe personality types or traits are neutral and imply no preferred value.

According to the Reiss Motivation Profile “Vengeance” is the desire to get even with others, the need to strike back. Aggression in animals is an example of the evolutionary basis of vengeance. The emotions associated with vengeance are anger and hate. At a primal level high desire for vengeance is and “eye for an eye” view of life. Another way of looking at this is that these high vengeance people believe that “it’s up to you” and the best way to do things is to simply take charge and get things done. A word that could also be used to describe vengeance that is more palatable is competitive. This motivation can propel sports teams to victory or turn around a failing organization. However, we all know people who love to argue just for the sake of it. There is pleasure for them in pushing back, sparring and defending their position. They love to prove other people wrong. On the downside this is the territory of dictators and despots.

On the other side of the scale, at the low end of the scale, people who score low in “Vengeance” are agreeable and will turn the other cheek. There are some people who wouldn’t strike back even if their life was in danger. This type of person may find that others take advantage of them.

These traits do not go away. If we don’t find a positive, constructive way to get these needs met they will raise their heads in possibly ugly ways. Rather than judging a desire such as “Vengeance” as negative or troublesome design a way to to get this need met such as regular athletic competition. If this is a trait you recognize in others, can you see the positive contribution?

Screen shot 2012-01-20 at 7.30.11 PM

As a sidebar: This painting was part of a show of paintings that I did based on the Reiss. A man came into the gallery and as he was reading the list of 16 core motivators on the Reiss profile, he came to argue with me about Vengeance. He said that he didn’t believe in it as it wasn’t necessary. If anyone got in his way he just “dealt” with them. As he turned to see the artwork hanging in the show, this painting caught his eye and without knowing that it that represented “Vengeance”, he told me that he liked THIS one.

Each letter is made from quotes that capture the energy of “Vengeance” such as “If you aren’t the lead dog the scenery never changes.” I resisted the urge to say “Gotcha” (barely ).

Category : Other Assessments | Blog