Success comes in cans

This phrase came across my radar screen just after I posted my last blog that started with a litany of “can’ts”. The visual of the can really adds punch to the idea and lightens any heavy pressure to perform.

CAN’T see the doodle? You CAN at

Category : Doodles | Perspectives | Uncategorized | Blog
MBTI quote from my Facebook wall

MBTI quote from my Facebook wall

This quote popped up on my Facebook wall a day after I listened to an interview MIchael Bungay Stanier did with Meg Wheatley in Michael’s Great Work Interview Series. This quote on it’s own is sufficient. If we could accept that our gifts are unique and valuable that is a great stride forward for many.

The thing that made this leap of the page for me today is what Wheatley had to say about the interpretation of the word “gift.” What makes it a gift is the giving. So we are further responsible not only to acknowledge the gifts we have but to make use of them by giving them to the world. They aren’t a gift if we don’t use them to benefit others.

Just think about it for a moment.

If you have dominant function of Extraverted Thinking, for example- you can cut through the clutter, see what needs to be done and put the systems in place. If you Introverted Feeling is your dominant function you understand the values at play, what matters most in the situation and how to work to bring accord. When we all contribute from our gifts, everyone and the system itself benefits.

The admonition from Meg Wheatley is to understand that utilizing our gifts is not always about personal gain but that it is important to share our gifts because we were given them and in a sense they are not ours to hoard or squander.

Have you done some good today?

A NOTE if you are on FACEBOOK
There is a cool app by CPP that delivers weekly tips for your type Here is the scoop about the page that it comes from:

This page is the Official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) Facebook Fan Page created by its publisher CPP, maintained with care, and devoted to providing a great little community for everyone who loves the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) assessment. The page is updated frequently with information, tips, ideas, and the general thoughts of its admin Leah Walling

Category : Perspectives | Blog

The Invisible Gorilla- And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by cognitive psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons outlines the trap of six “everyday illusions” that cloud the decisions that we make from those of little consequence to those that can have life and death implications.

You know those people that have to have the last word? It seems that I might have a wee bit of that lurking in my DNA. There are a couple of things that I just had to say about this book before I am complete.

First, it was a tad humbling to see some of my sacred cows being sacrificed. While reading this book I was reminded how much I trust and rely on emotions and intuitive hits as a source of information. Time and again Chabris and Simons Illustrate the false information that anything but solid analysis can render. This includes some of the writings of my hero Malcolm Gladwell. (gasp)

Secondly, I was somewhat discouraged after reading how often seemingly valid scientific investigations are poorly designed and/or executed and therefore unreliable. Even though the authors offer some guidelines for determining robust data, I was left wondering how easy it is for the average person to determine what information to trust. Unfortunately the net result of reading this book left me still in the camp that would seek out poets, painters and sages as my guides of choice over solely relying on the black and white “truth” of the scientific method. Does this mean that my ENFP DNA rears its head in the end?

Finally, the bottom line for me here is twofold. First being aware that we often operate under faulty assumptions about the accuracy of our cognitive abilities and how understanding the nature of some of these typical errors can keep us from making BAD decisions. Second, differentiate between areas where objective analysis is possible and when we have to rely on other ways of knowing and deciding. In either case practicing taking time for reflection is undeniably important.

What do you rely on to guide your day to day decisions – big or small?

Category : Perspectives | Blog

The Invisible Gorilla- And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by cognitive psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons outlines the trap of six “everyday illusions” that cloud the decisions that we make from those of little consequence to those that can have life and death implications.

This book is so chock full of interesting facts and insights into how we delude ourselves every day that I could write any number of articles. One that struck me as relevant to the MBTI was what Chabris and Simons had to say about confidence. In fact they had a lot to say on this topic as there are 32 references under this heading in the index.

We tend to equate confidence with ability. We seek it out when situations are uncertain or complex. We read books that advise us to raise confident children as the overall guiding principle for success in life. We chose leaders based on perceived levels of competence over others who are more capable and qualified. One startling example given was George W. Bush’s response to the very confident answer from CIA Director George Trent when asked about the strength of evidence about weapons of mass destruction. George is not the exception – we all tend to believe and trust confidence.

Confidence is often equated with Extraversion. Extraverts typically respond faster and louder which adds to the portrayal of confidence. One ‘take away’ from this discussion on confidence is the cautionary advice regarding group decision making processes. When this is done out loud people will often defer to the person with seniority or most influence. A secret ballot that elicits every person’s honest response is a more accurate way of determining an answer free from political or social factors.

Category : Perspectives | Blog

The Invisible Gorilla- And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by cognitive psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons outlines the trap of six “everyday illusions” (perhaps “delusions” would be an appropriate word) that cloud the decisions that we make from those of little consequence to those that can have life and death implications.

Before we get into any discussion of the award winning research that this book introduces watch this video first.

We depend on our senses to give us input into the world around us. How else can we understand our reality? I am curious “Did you see the gorilla in the video?” If you didn’t, don’t be harsh on yourself. This experiment has been duplicated many times in different conditions, with different audiences, in different countries with consistent results: about half of the people miss seeing the gorilla.

Chabris and Simons go on to describe this phenomenon which is the first of the six everyday illusions as “inattentional blindness.” This occurs when something unexpected shows up in our field of attention. The thing that surprised the two researchers was the level of surprise expressed by the participants in the study who missed seeing the gorilla. Disbelief!

One of the assumptions people typically make is that we assume that if an object is visually distinct or unusual we will surely see it. Another aspect of this is that we may also assume that if we miss seeing something that it is intentional and we ascribe motivation to the failure to see.

The authors gives some examples of how this might impact people in day to day situations. From courtroom testimony where “inattentional blindness” played a role in a conviction. The jury just could not believe that the convicted didn’t see what “in their opinion” was right before his eyes. As well as the example of the nuclear submarine that surfaced directly under a Japanese fishing vessel despite the state of the art sonar and experienced crew and even after the captain did a manual periscope check for ships in the vicinity.

The biggest implication for me personally in this section of the book was the impact that talking on the phone while driving has on our attention. Yes 77% of us assume the problem is with “holding” the phone and talking, but Chabris and Simons debunk that proving that driving while having any cell phone conversation dramatically impairs our visual perception and awareness. Again as with the gorilla we are less likely to notice the unexpected and be able to react in time.

If you think this doesn’t apply to you consider the people you rely on – like the radiologist who is looking at images requested for you by your doctor, the management responsible for safety and discriminatory practices in your workplace or the staff who fail to notice bullying in your child’s school.

This book is chock-full of information that may be new and even shocking about what we think we know and how we might just be deluded.

Category : Perspectives | Blog

We become the stories we tell ourselves. I have seen assessment tools such as the MBTI and Enneagram used to justify believing faulty tales we tell ourselves about who we are.

In case I have just lost you completely let me get more concrete.

Imagine an INTJ who in the course of their day to day work is accustomed to getting the “big picture” swiftly and getting into action perhaps without a lot of engagement with fellow staff because why bother when the outcome required is so obvious and required. The INTJ simply sees things so clearly that they can’t imagine others don’t as well.

On the other hand in this specific circumstance the powers that interpreted this independent and individualistic approach as something exclusionary, perhaps cool and labeled it not “collegial” and grounds for dismissal in a work culture that values being a team player.

Here’s where the storytelling part kicks in.

Does this become the truth… that this person is not collegial and is somehow defective in this area? Or is this an event to learn from and to use to build next steps? What a shame to let it become part of a story that reinforces something that keeps one stuck and in fear of trying again.

We are always trying to make sense of reality. Something happens. We bring what we know from our senses and then we interpret that data through all the filters of our past experiences and our belief systems. It is an easy leap to latch onto a tool such as the MBTI to explain or even justify what occurred. “Because I am INTJ or INFP or name your type, I can’t…I don’t….I won’t…they always…this happens…”

My advice is to see each event for what it is or what it was. Something happened. Perhaps based on MBTI preferences how someone responded contributed to the way people reacted BUT it is not a direct automatic result that will happen every time. Each one of us gets to be at choice. We can become aware of our impact on others. Armed with that knowledge we can become transparent about how we interact. Yes it may take courage to say something like “I get focused on the end result and may need your help to remember to seek your input or lighten up or…”

In decision after decision day after day we get to decide what we want to happen or at least how we want to react to what happens and not let past experiences become a verdict of a doomed future.

If a past experience cannot be forgiven or forgotten get help from a coach or therapist to reframe the event and get the learning. Then let go of the story especially if it impacts negatively on your identity and decide what is the next step that lines up with your heart, your gut and your head.

(Note: This post was sparked by an email from a reader. Unfortunately the return email was not deliverable so I wanted to address the aspect of storytelling that leaped off the screen at me by responding in a post – not my first choice but perhaps it will resonate with someone else as well)

Category : Decision making | Perspectives | Blog

On the heels of the APA’s, American Psychiatric Association’s, proposed changes that would negatively impact our perception of Introversion, I was asked if Introverts (INFP specifically) can be highly functioning in social situations?

The answer is a YES in capitals. It actually saddens me to think that the myths about Introversion may have contributed to someone asking this question.

Much of my time over last 15 years has been spent in the “coaching” community. While coaches come in all MBTI type flavours, several of the people I have worked with closely have had INFP preferences. The two words that come top of mind in thinking of their social acumen are grace and charm. In watching them work with groups I have seen how they can take the conversation to a deep meaningful level within a short period of time. Perhaps because the inner world of reflection is home turf for the INFP, people sense that they can surrender and trust the INFP facilitator enough to go there with them. In general people with a preference for Introversion can be as outgoing as an Extravert. I personally know many amateur and professional performers who have a preference for Introversion yet love being in front of an audience.

Every personality type comes in every range of psychological health and well-being. In addition type has nothing to do with skill or competency in any area. Whether you are Emotionally or Socially Intelligent has nothing to do with your MBTI type although some would argue that some types are predisposed to it being more natural.

So where does that leave an individual looking for answers to the doubts, fears and challenges that face them in being at ease in the Extraverted world of social discourse? The MBTI and other personality assessments can provide insights into our selves and others and add to our self-knowledge, but the journey to robustness and well-being is truly an individual adventure.

Perhaps a more appropriate question would be “Can someone survive and thrive in social situations after an unsafe or harmful childhood or psychological trauma? Absolutely! In the best case scenario, these life challenges can be fodder for the kind of understanding and strength that makes an individual exceptional. At the same time I will concede that even people with the best of upbringings can be crushed by their reaction to circumstances.

It isn’t any person’s particular “wiring” that dictates their success in a social context, it’s what they do with what they have.

One caveat that may be something helpful to remember is that “No one makes it alone”. So reaching out to others whether they are mentors, coaches or therapists or a trusted adviser, is something we all need to consider. However if you are not naturally resilient SUPPORT is essential. Indeed this is not a one time event. Reaching out, setting up systems and processes that support you on an on-going basis – all need to be integrated into “healthy” living the same way diet and exercise are ongoing day by day.

Commit to daily, weekly, monthly, annual processes that build on what you do well and are comfortable with. Discovering what works for you can either be a hard task and burden or an exciting adventure of discovery. You get to choose!

What do you do on a regular basis to keep you in top form with friends and colleagues? and with yourself?

Category : Best practices | Perspectives | Blog

One great conversation over the holidays centered on people who are just “too much.” Typically that means they are too much for other people to deal with. They might be too loud, too peppy, too emotional, too aggressive, too confident … fill in your word of choice.

This was my daughter’s phrase and I asked her if she belonged to this tribe. We laughed because Karen describes herself as a “big feeler.” The gift of this is her ability to be in a conversation with anyone no matter how challenging the topic. She doesn’t deflect or change course when encountering heavy emotional territory, she steers fearlessly for the eye of the storm, allowing others to express and consequently move beyond the “touchy” places.   She comes by this honestly, apparently, because her sister and her mother are also tribe members from time to time. (Okay okay I admit to crying during commercials.)

There is a downside to being “too much.” People give you messages either directly as in “You’re too much!” or ” Stop being so emotional” or indirectly by backing away, averting their eyes or other non-verbal messaging. This holds true for people who are too loud, too friendly, too assertive but some of the tribe are immune to other people’s responses. Others in the tribe end up feeling that they don’t fit in and this can cause them to withdraw, act out or alter their behaviour.

It occurred to me that Hans Christian Andersen’s tale ‘The Ugly Duckling” captures the alienation we feel when we aren’t like others. Trying to conform may seem like the prescribed solution, but ultimately it doesn’t work if it results in feeling like you are abandoning yourself.

Here are three suggestions for anyone who feels that they are “too much” at  times.

  1. Accept yourself just the way you are. I’m not implying that you might not wish to change some aspects of how you show up to others. Perhaps you’ll change or maybe you won’t. The truest way to have change happen naturally is to start by looking at “what is” and simply being okay with that. If you force yourself to adapt you may end up in resistance and further embedded in “too much” as a result of undue stress.
  2. If there is a person or group of people in your life who give off messages that they don’t accept you as you are, think about what you want to do about that. Letting people constantly criticize and judge you is a recipe for stress. It is okay to outgrow friends, colleagues even lifestyles. They don’t need to be blamed or made wrong. It may simply be the time to move on.
  3. Develop a practice of being a neutral yet compassionate observer of your behaviour. Notice those “too much” episodes without judgment. “How fascinating!” “How interesting” “Look at this dynamic”. This simple mindful habit (skill), anchored in acceptance, is one of the most powerful contributors to change.

Good luck to any fellow ducklings! I’d love to hear how this fairy tale scenario holds true for you.

Category : Communication | Perspectives | Blog

I am a fan of Otto Kroeger and Associates and CEO Hile Rutledge. This organization has an approach that is respectful of people as individuals and the integrity of the Myers Briggs (MBTI). Their materials are first rate and from all that I have seen and heard they are dedicated to learning and expanding their approaches.

Even though Hile Rutledge generously allowed me to use their type descriptions in my book Inner Landscapes II, for some reason I hadn’t subscribed to their newsletter until now. Here is a seasonal gem from their December newsletter that I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

What Type is Santa Claus? by
Hile Rutledge
An OKA graduate once asked us what might be Santa Claus’ type. Here is the response…

Dear Nancy,
I must admit this is the first time I’ve gotten the Santa question, but it seems an
obvious thing to ponder. As with all Typewatching speculations, it is important
to note that such hypotheses say more about the guesser than they do the
subject being considered. Often, there is much “type pondering” about
prominent figures – we hear many political leaders, for example, described as
every type because they are the object of projection from those around th
we project that much onto our leaders – real people in the news each day, imagine what we as
collective do to Santa Claus! All this is offered as a disclaimer and a backdrop urging you to
take what I next say – and the type projections of anyone you ask – with a pound of salt.

Santa Claus’ Type Preference
Picturing the late 20th century, pop culture, largely marketing driven image of Santa that is most
prevalent today, these would be the preferences I see:
Temperament of Santa – I can see the argument for NF. Santa is a poster child for personable
and touchy-feely, right? But I would argue Santa is an SJ. Look at this man’s project
management skills. Toys for everyone in the world delivered all in one night – on time and under
budget? Come on, only an SJ could pull that one off. Besides he makes list and checks it
twice. NFJs may make the list, but check it twice? Never. Santa’s an SJ.

E – Most of the shows and images we see of Santa show a gregarious and expressive man,
frequently in the company of others. Can you imagine the network that that man must have?
No Introvert would have such a thing unless he lived in total stress – and that jolly old elf
certainly has a stress-free life 51 weeks out of the year.

F – Santa has to be a Feeling decider. Don’t be fooled by the naughty and nice list. That is not
an objective, logical decision process. Fs can and do make the naughty or nice conclusion. But
really, have you ever seen data that suggest that anyone has ever made it to the naughty
list? There were many years that I deserved switches and coal, but I got the G.I. Joe with the
Kung Fu Grip instead. Santa has shown more mercy than justice in my view. Santa is an F – a
dominant Extraverted F, in fact.

I would argue that Santa is an ESFJ, which we refer to as Host/Hostess of the World–also
known as the ambassadors of the world. How perfect for Father Christmas.

Hile Rutledge
Chief Executive Officer
OKA (Otto Kroeger Associates) | | Ph: (703) 591-6284

Category : Perspectives | Blog

I love how entrepreneurs think and take action. The Ready, Fire, Aim approach they often take typically hits the mark even though occasionally it can cause some grief. However, when entrepreneurs get stuck and the momentum stalls, for whatever reason, it can get UGLY.

I was talking to such an entrepreneur (SP temperament) in such a stuck place who was finding it difficult to know what to say to clients who were complaining about something out of this individual’s control. People were making erroneous assumptions about this person’s working relationship with a business associate who was responsible for the problem area in question. This entrepreneur was like a deer in the headlights not knowing quite what to say because they had the inside scoop. However correcting any misconceptions about the division of responsibility would make both parties look bad and not satisfy the client. Besides which it would just feed any existing resentment by playing the BLAME game. The only responsible position was to take 100% responsibility to the client but it wasn’t pleasant.

My thinking went to a need for recreating the business agreements with this associate. This could have been a lengthy negotiation.

A third person (ENTJ) in the conversation suggested simply saying to the client “Thank you for your feedback. We will look into that and get back to you with some ideas.” I was quite taken aback for a moment until I realized that my approach could have been over-complicating things and possibly erecting even more barriers. This simple response would respect the client and provide an opportunity for the entrepreneur to maintain their momentum.

In focusing on providing for the client these associates might have an opportunity for some honest conversation to sort out their relationship from the bottom up. It might not require a big formal re-negotiation if a series of smaller conversations could achieve the same result.

Are you aware of areas where you over-complicate matters?

Category : Communication | Perspectives | Blog