Monday, March 12, 2012

I'm Not Really an Extrovert, I Just Play One on TV

I’ve taken several personality/work styles tests over the past 20 years, including the well-known Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Most recently, my employer had us take a test from Emergenetics. My results held no surprises for me:
  • Low on the social and expressive scales (I prefer one-on-one time to big parties; I prefer to work in solitude)
  • High on the structural and analytical (I meet and beat deadlines, I like lists and rules and order)
Several co-workers said my scores had to be wrong. (“You’re such an extrovert! You’re so creative!”) I never think these types of tests are wrong, or good/bad. I think they say more about our comfort level than about how we act and interact in our work and personal lives.
It’s the same with right brain/left brain theory. It’s no surprise that I “test out” as more left brain (more logical, critical thinker; retains information through words and symbols).
I think we possess characteristics from all personality and work types. We must choose when, where and with whom we show these traits. My hope is that we don’t pigeon-hole or stereotype anyone based on these tests. I believe we benefit immensely when we stretch ourselves and our comfort levels, and that it can make us better at what we do for a living and in our leisure time.
For example:
  • Mary is an accountant by day but is learning to play bass guitar at night.
  • Fred is a graphic designer who enjoys skateboarding.
  • Christina is a cyclist who teaches yoga.
I’m a writer/editor by profession but I love to decorate cakes and prepare gourmet meals. I feel I use a completely different part of my brain when designing beautiful cakes or following new recipes than when I write fiction. I think writing makes me a better cake designer and chef; and that my culinary skills help me be a better writer.
Do you stretch beyond your personality and work “types”? How does that work out for you?


  1. I especially appreciate this post, Mandy, because I think that there are limiting stereotypes about "creative" people. You don't have to be crazed, irresponsible, unorganized, and "dark" to be creative. Creativity comes in all forms. In addition to your blog, this is a good commentary on creativity:

  2. Great article, Tracy! Fits this theme perfectly. Who knew that Steve Jobs studied calligraphy as a way to "stretch" his creative powers.

  3. I read this article in the UK Guardian newspaper this week on the same theme, so interesting! thanks Mandy.