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Everyone has value. Everyone has been called for such a time as this to use their unique gifts and experiences to serve others and to serve God. But what are those gifts? And which experiences in particular? Some things we were born with. Other things we acquired. As a result, we all have a bent - a tendency to respond to our world in a way that characterizes both our personality and our background.
Florence identifies 4 primary personality types. Each personality type has its own strengths, and of course its own weaknesses. We want to know what traits belong to each personality type. That helps us understand other people - and perhaps be more forgiving of who they are and how they behave. For ourselves, we want to grow in the direction of our natural personality, emphasizing its strengths and minimizing its weaknesses.
Here are the four personality types. I'll use Florence's descriptions, but I've added the animal descriptions to help us get a better mental image of the type.
Sanguine - The Star of the Show - Otter: cheerful, bubbly, happy-go-lucky. Avoid chores but always find friends to bail them out just because they're so likable. Everything they say is funny. They get good marks in school in everything but conduct and penmanship. They hate to practice because their chief aim in life is to have fun. A talker, optimistic, animated and excited, undisciplined, forgetful, and eager for credit.
Choleric - The Director - Lion: Love to be in control. Know exactly what they want and are perfectly willing to let everyone else know it too. They sense instinctively which people know what they're talking about and which ones don't. They get their work done quickly and can't understand why others are unable to duplicate their efforts. They tend to be the captain of the team and president of the club. A worker, controlling, dynamic, decisive, ambitious, goal-oriented, bossy, impatient, and domineering.
Melancholy - The Producer - Beaver: Sensitive to their surroundings and tend to be moved to tears. They alphabetize their bookshelf, ensure that everything on a tabletop is squared, centered, and evenly spaced - silverware, napkins, food, etc. Tend to be compulsive. They love lists. They get their work done on time and then do extra research projects. They practice until they drop to ensure everything is perfect, but they hate to show anyone what they've done for fear of failure or rejection. They are compassionate and support the underdog. They get discouraged when everything doesn't turn out as they planned and no one else seems to care. They dream the impossible dream of a perfect world. A thinker, deep and purposeful, sensitive, talented and creative, analytical and orderly, moody and negative, too introspective, socially insecure, and easily depressed.
Phlegmatic - The Backstage Crew - Golden Retriever: Tend to be passive and understanding. They love to help other people but don't ask them to take control. They obey all the rules and never give anyone a hard time. They do their school work on time but they never do more than what's necessary. They get nominated for various projects but don't mind if they don't win. They try to keep everyone happy - peace at any cost. Mediator, easy-going, calm and relaxed, patient and inoffensive, quiet but witty, unmotivated, unenthusiastic, indecisive, and eager to rest.
None of us fits exclusively into one category. We tend to be combinations and mixtures. But one of these is going to be your dominant personality. You should be able to spot it right away. It's what you were born to be. Relish it.
Temperament – So What?
Balance. What we strive for throughout our lives is the balance. We want to avoid the extremes in our experiences and in our emotions, in our actions and in our rest, so that we achieve balance. We want to be able to pay the bills, but not be so driven by money that we become greedy. We want to be helpful, but not so bound by our obligations to others that we ignore our own needs. We want to love our friends and family, but not be so loving that we ignore bad behavior. We want to have nice things, but not be so compelled to buy them that we wind up in poverty. Balance.
To become balanced, and to understand the tensions that exist in all people, we need to have a tool. We need a mirror to help us see ourselves and assess others. This personality tree is the best tool I've found to provide that insight into myself and others. What it does for us is identify the dominant quadrant that people fall into. And what that enables us to do is recognize our need to adopt some of the positive habits and behaviors of the other 3 quadrants. That's how we pursue balance. That's our personal use of the tool.
When we deal with other people, and we're in a people business, we use the tool differently. We don't want to balance them unless they are young children. We want to understand what motivates them or inhibits them in their pursuit of a better life. We don't want to trigger their fears, and of course, each quadrant has its own fears. Instead, we want to stimulate their drives, and each quadrant has those too. When we learn how to do that, we aren't "manipulating" them. We are freeing them to pursue their goals and dreams. Yes, it is intentional on our part. But it is also compassionate and empowering. We don't coerce. We encourage.
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