It is then, as appears, the greatest of all lessons to know one’s self. For if one knows himself, he will know God; and knowing God, he will be made like God
-St. Clement of Alexandria
It is of immense value to know yourself:
If you know your strengths you can focus on those areas and achieve extraordinary things.
In a similar way, if you know your weaknesses you can find ways to compensate for those areas like partnering with different people possessing the strengths that you lack.
This is all relatively straightforward, but the question then becomes how does one truly come to know oneself?
Drum roll please…
The answer isn’t as earth shattering as you might expect.
You come to know yourself in the same way you learn about anything else – through investigation and focused study.
There are several personality tests that you may or may not have heard of that I have found to be incredibly valuable in the study of yourself. Below I describe a few of them, give some starting points, and provide some resources so that you can begin your research!
Myers-Brigg Personality Test
Many of you are already aware of the Myers-Brigg Personality Types as they are referenced the most. The theory boils down to the following:
There are four possible pairs of personality traits:
-Introversion (I) or Extraversion (E)
-Intuition (N) or Sensing (S)
-Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
-Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
Every person leans, to a slight or extreme degree, to one side in each pair; this results in 16 possible personality profiles. A lot of people are surprised at how accurately their profile describes them as this test has helped many to see why they think and behave in certain ways. This personality test is so widely used that some people use it to find careers that they would be a good fit for or even life long partners that they are compatible with.
Take the test for free here! Once you know what you are you can just type those four letters into google and learn a variety of things about yourself.
There are also entire webpages dedicated to explaining the different Myers-Brigg personality types. The following videos are some of the best I’ve found as they take an in-depth look at each type. It’s definitely worth the 10 minutes it’ll take to watch the video focusing on your personal type:
There are also forums where people with the same personality type go, ask each other questions and support one another. If you go to https://www.reddit.com/r/xxxx (type in the four letters that represent your personality type in place of the xxxx) you can see one such online community for yourself. You can learn what motivates, scares, exhausts, or makes each personality type feel better. You can even see how to grow rapidly based on your type. When it comes to the Myers-Brigg personality types, resources are pretty endless.
The DiSC Assessment
The DiSC assessment is another test designed to predict how people are likely to act; it is another tool you can use to learn more about yourself. The basic premise is that there are four behavioral groups people fall into: Dominant, Influential, Steady, and Compliant.
Most people can be described using one or a mixture of two of the categories. You can take the test for free here!
Also, below you can download a really good infographic taken from Eastern Nazarene College that goes into a lot of detail about the different behavior groups. (Be sure to zoom in to see it properly!)
There are several other less well-known tests out there that will give you a deeper understanding of what you’re naturally good at, your unique disposition, and why you think and act the way you do… you just have to look for them. After I bought, Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents and Inspire Your Community, I received an access code to take a StrengthFinders Test. Out of the 34 themes, it reported my top 5 (with my strongest at the top of the list):
1. Input (I have a craving to know more; like to collect and archive all kinds of information)
2. Intellection (I am introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions)
3. Focus (I can take directions, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track)
4. Learner (I am constantly growing as I I feed my desire to learn all that I can)
5. Restorative (I adept at dealing with problems and good at fixing things that go wrong)
This taught me a lot about myself and revealed to me why I behave in certain ways. The book goes into a lot more detail about the 34 themes. Unfortunately, the test is not free as you either have to buy the book (and receive an access code to take the test) or buy the test on it’s own here. If you don’t want to pay for the test it’s worth looking through the list of themes to see what you think are your top strengths. You might know yourself better than you think.
Not only can we use these tools to learn more about ourselves, but we can use them to understand and appreciate the differences between us and the people in our lives. As we come to understand that there is no ‘right way’ and just different ways of communicating and approaching things we come to value others for the unique perspectives, insights, and abilities they bring to the table. This allows us to grow to see our lives in the context of the people and community we belong to.
So let’s start learning about ourselves!
After looking through these materials, what have you learned about yourself from your research? Let us know below!
(Photo by Alex Zhu)