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Explaining the Personal Growth Project

Over the past 6-8 weeks, I've been blogging publicly on a regular basis about the results of various personality, strengths and interests assessments I've taken over the years.

The idea to put these results out in public came to me when I wrote a post on telling the story of my personal brand. Over the past year or so, I've realized that I need to do a better job of explaining who I am and what I offer.

I know who I am, but I haven't been very proactive in telling my story to the rest of the world. That didn't matter so much in the early days of my professional life when ladders and structures pretty much dictated outcomes.

The great thing is that my strengths, personality and interests are aligned perfectly with the variables necessary to thrive in the new economy. I was made for this era. It excites and energizes me, so I don't want to miss the opportunities to play to my strengths.

Writing Helps Me Think

Since I love figuring out how things work and writing helps me understand, blogging seemed like the perfect venue for this project.

A commitment to writing about my story “in public” ensures that I'll stay at the topic until I've thoroughly covered it, figured out an action plan and moved to take action.

I love to connect-the-dots between disparate bits of information. That's one reason I love the internet and the conceptual opportunities that come from hyperlinking.

When I blog, I can link my thoughts on one topic or idea to something else I've written and begin to see connections that I might otherwise miss. At some point in the late 90s, I began to think of the synapses in my brain as a series of hyperlinks that connected all the various ideas, images, emotions and facts I've stored there.

I also hope that I might inspire others to undertake similar projects to get in touch with who they really are. I try to incorporate the self-awareness mindset in advisees and students who seek out career advice because I don't want to see them pursue a career path that leaves them unfulfilled or stifled.

Authenticity Is Important

Putting all of these results “out there” for the world to see serves, in some ways, as a confirmation that I'm not just spinning who I am and what I offer. These results provide some independent documentation that I'm being authentic and transparent when I talk about my strengths and interests.

Being “real” is important to me. Authenticity is a value that shows up a lot in my assessments and it's something I know I care about.

In the past, my blogging has focused on benign topics, while I've kept a lot of myself in the shadows.  I didn't want to write or talk about myself because that just seemed unseemly. I occasionally talked about something personal, but even then I was non-specific.

For the most part, except for my recipe-and-food posts, I ended up writing on generic topics, or giving lectures, instead of telling interesting stories.

One of the main motivations of the Shinecast project is to help others live healthy, happier lives.

To do that, I have to be comfortable talking about my own experiences in facing up to challenges and growing through obstacles. I think my experiences can provide inspiration.

We All Have Fears

As confident as I am, I've also faced obstacles and self-doubt. Courage is, in some ways, like a muscle. By pushing through fear, you learn resilience. And resilience is something I fully understand. It's probably my greatest strength.

I still feel fear at times, but I move on anyway because I've learned that whatever is causing fear usually evaporates in the face of action.

[Tweet “The cause of your fear usually evaporates in the face of action.”]

Writing publicly about myself is a simple exercise in courage, it gets me out of my comfort zone and gives me another arrow in my bravery quiver. And writing also helps me to think through situations that sometimes cause fear.

I've spent the past 5 years trying to adapt to a bad fit and to overcome someone else's misconception of who I am and what I offer, strictly to “prove I could succeed” in a situation that I chose, despite my instinctive understanding that I was making a mistake from the outset. On the plus side, I've used these five years to develop new skills that build on the internet technology skills I developed in the 90s and early 2000s (like WordPress, digital marketing, etc.) and expand my professional network.

I intend for the next phase of my professional life to emphasize projects that allow me to use my strengths and interests to “be more, achieve more” (to steal a phrase from a podcast I listen to regularly.

This personal growth project is all about giving wings to the vision I have for the second half of my life. It's exciting and energizing and I can't wait to experience the vision unfold.


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The Magician Goes Exploring

According to The Storybranding Group's PVSI assessment, I am a Magician AND an Explorer, thanks to a tied score.

I'm nearing the end of this research project in which I've been reviewing the results of various personality, strengths and values assessments I've taken through the years as part of my effort to figure out how to more effectively tell my own story.

In my final sweep through computer files looking for any remaining data to consider, I ran across the results of the PVSI I took online in mid-October 2013.

The Personal Values Story Index “illuminates professional assets, values and gifts through a story-based lens.”

Based on the 12-archetype model created by Dr. Carol S. Pearson, the instrument provides a holistic way of looking at who you are professionally by measuring how much you identify with the attitudes and behaviors of 12 mythical or archetypal characters (called story types on this website).

The Storybranding Group website

My results revealed a tied score, placing me in two archetypes: Magician and Explorer. The Explorer label has come up before, in pretty much all of my assessments. The “Magician” label is new, but the underlying themes are not.

PVSI Story Type: Explorer

Stop me if you've heard this before:

Naturally independent, authentic and curious, they're able to follow unique paths and motivate others to explore unchartered territory. They're usually excited and challenged by the opportunity to blaze a new trail.”

Email of results from The Storybranding Group PVSI assessment

Subtypes of the Explorer archetype include:

  • Trailblazer/pioneer: Sees or scouts for new opportunities/possibilities
  • Adventurer: Emphasizes adventure and/or new experiences
  • Seeker/wanderer: Searches for a unique path or solution
  • Iconoclast: Places great value in being different and/or independent
  • Individualist:  Maintains personal integrity and authenticity in all endeavors

Email of results from The Storybranding Group PVSI assessment

Caveat for the Explorer: “Watch for an unwillingness to settle down or commit to a course of action; forgetting to coordinate their others; and overlooking the needs of others.”

PVSI Story Type: Magician

“Naturally intuitive, insightful and inspiring [Magicians] are able to see and appreciate multiple perspectives and motivate others to believe that anything is possible. They're usually excited and challenged in times of great transformation.”

Email of results from The Storybranding Group PVSI assessment

Subtypes of the Magician Archetype include:

  • Catalyst/Change agent: Sees opportunities for change or provides impetus for innovative transformation.
  • Envisioner: Sees possibilities and develops a clear vision of the future
  • Healer: Effects individual or group healing
  • Intuitive: Uses synchronicities/hunches/serendipity to set a course
  • Wizard: Has a talent for unexpected, serendipitous results

Email of results from The Storybranding Group PVSI assessment

A caveat for the Magician type: Don't “lose patience with those who aren't as visionary as they are.”

The Magician archetype makes me think of all the reasons I love Harry Potter.

What's the Meaning?

I'll be pulling together all the common threads in the final post of the series. But clearly the most significant finding, I think, is the consistency of the results across the years and across the various assessment methodologies.


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Work Values Assessment

When I re-took the MBTI in late August along with students in a course I'm teaching, we also had the chance to complete the Work Values assessment.

I finally found the PDF of those results and wanted to include them in this series. If you're following along, this is another in a series of posts I've been writing over the past month or so. I'm looking back at the results of various personality, communication styles and strengths assessments I've taken over the course of my adult life.

Work Values Clusters

This particular assessment is based responses to 20 statements. These responses measure work needs based on importance and yield results which are classified into six core work values: Achievement, Independence, Recognition, Relationships, Support and Working Conditions.

My top two work needs are: Independence and Achievement.

Work Values Assessment Sheree Martin

Work Values: Independence

Independence encompasses three needs:

  • Creativity
  • Responsibility
  • Autonomy

Work Values: Achievement

The top needs associated with the Achievement value are:

  • Ability Utilization
  • Achievement

I'm excited by what seems to be a consistent thread that's evident across all of these results and I can't wait to finish up my evaluation of all the data.


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My Fascination Archetype

In the last post I introduced Sally Hogshead's The Fascination Advantage and explained the basic premise of her system to analyze and classify communication styles and personality traits.

If you're following along, this is another of a series of posts where I explore the results of various personality and strengths assessments I've done through the years.

My official Fascination Advantage Archetype is Trendsetter. That's the focus of today's post.

My Fascination Advantages

Yesterday I revealed the results of my two Fascination Advantage assessments:

Primary Advantage: Innovation

Secondary Advantage: Prestige

Tertiary Advantage: Mystique

So what does this mean? Quite honestly, I'm not entirely sure. But when I dive more deeply into the description of Innovation, Prestige and Mystique Advantages I can see how those measures correlate with my MBTI and StrengthsFinder results and even the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory from way back in 1980.

The Innovation Advantage

My primary advantage is Innovation.

The Innovation Advantage

According to the Report that came with my Fascination Advantage results, Innovation is all about creativity, vision, adventure, exploration.

The Innovation type in the Fascination Advantage system is someone who:

  • “Quickly solves problems with fresh solutions”
  • “Generate[s] ideas that surprise people with a new perspective”

Both of these statements are consistent with the results from my other assessments.

The Prestige Advantage

My secondary advantage is Prestige.

The Prestige Advantage is all about excellence, execution and accomplishment. This certainly correlates with the Maximizer and Achiever StrengthsFinder typology.

Someone with Prestige as the secondary advantage is:

  • “Conscientious of the smallest details”
  • “Motivated by a competitive spirit and determined outlook”
  • “Constantly envision[ing] ways to improve and upgrade'

Language of Fascination Advantages

The Mystique Advantage

I call this my tertiary advantage because I had the same score for Prestige and Mystique in my results from the second time I took The Fascination Advantage assessment. According to the report for those results, a tie-breaking question revealed Prestige as my secondary advantage. That would be consistent with the results from the first time I took the test.

Mystique is the Advantage I know the least about. Mystique is briefly described in in my reports:

  • Someone with the Mystique Advantage is described as the “solo intellect behind-the-scenes.”
  • “Mystique is the language of listening.”
  • “Mystique communicates with substance”

It wasn't until I found this video that I understood how I could score strong strongly on Mystique, the point of being one question away from having Mystique as my secondary Advantage.

As Sally explains here, someone with the Mystique Advantage is unlikely to self-promote. As I've said before, I never felt the need to promote myself but I've come to realize that it's absolutely necessary that I tell my own story, not to brag, but simply to communicate what I can offer. That is how I embarked on this project.

In the light of this explanation, Mystique makes a lot of sense.

Dormant Advantage: Trust

The labels used in The Fascination Advantage are not intuitive and Trust, in particular, is the one that is most confusing to me and seemingly the most mis-labeled.

The Trust Advantage refers to a preference for stability, normalcy, routine. The “dormant” aspect of this refers to my desire to avoid “falling into a rut” or “performing the same duties every day.”

When I think of trust, I think of trustworthy, not stability or a preference for routines.

The explanations about my “Dormant Trust Advantage” make perfectly good sense:

“You have an entrepreneurial approach to your career….You appreciate variety and actively seek new ways to solve a problem.”

“You love to explore….People are attracted to your expressive and curious nature. You are unlikely to be seen as boring.”

“You intuitively know how to persuade others through your self-expression and enthusiasm. You typically find it easy to brainstorm ideas.”

Each of these statements is supported in the results from my other assessments. I just wish this was labeled something other than “trust” because a “dormant trust advantage” makes it sound like (to me, anyway) that someone is not trustworthy. Yet the Trust Advantage has nothing to do with trust in the ethical sense.

This sentence, perhaps, best sums up this part of my Fascination Advantage results:

“If you do not naturally enjoy repeating the same process over and over, you will never reach your full potential in a job that forces you to follow a rigid path.”

Fascination Advantage Results Pie Chart
This pie chart is from the report accompanying my first results. I took the test again a few weeks later and the order of results were the same, but the percentages were slightly different.

The Trendsetter Archetype

When you combine the Innovation Advantage with the Prestige Advantage you get the Trendsetter Archetype.

Cutting-edge, Elite, Progressive, Imaginative, Edgy

“You're good at sensing what the next big thing will be.”

“You're competitive and ambitious.”

“You're a trailblazer who guides others in often uncharted territories.”

“You impress with your intellect and inventiveness.”

“You are able to see opportunities where others see only threats.”

“You implement change with determination.”

“You get the most out of developing and implementing your unique vision.”

I certainly feel like these describe me. The question is whether this is really how OTHERS see me, since I'm the one who answered the questions that yielded these results.

Advantages Correlate with Strenths

It's pretty clear to me that my Fascination Advantages directly correlate with the results of my StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessments and MBTI personality type. I'll be pulling all of this together soon, in a post that brings everything together.

In the meantime, here's Sally Hogshead on MarieTV talking about The Fascination Advantage. It's interesting to see that back in 2013 she was using some different terms for the Advantages. Innovation was once labeled as Rebellion, or something like that, even though it was still focused on creativity.

Have YOU taken The Fascination Advantage assessment? I'd love to hear what you think about the results. Leave me a comment! I'd love to hear from you.

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The Fascination Advantage

Last summer (2014), I discovered Sally Hogshead's How to Fascinate book and analysis through the many podcasts I listen to. I couldn't NOT look into it. Like I've said, I think it's a lot of fun to take these tests.

In fact, it's the results from The Fascination Advantage that prompted me to go back and start looking at other tests and to even retake the MBTI in September. Why? I was intrigued and wanted to explore the validity and reliability of this new way of assessing personality traits.

The Fascination Advantage Explained

The terms used and the structure of the report can be a bit confusing because the labels are new, but as I've reviewed the results and watched some of her videos explaining the system it started to make sense.

The Fascination Advantage emerged from Sally Hogshead's interest in learning what makes people fascinating.

The basic marketing message to promote The Fascination Advantage system is that MBTI, StrengthsFinder® and DISC explain “how you see the world.” The Fascination Advantage is supposed to reveal “how the world sees you.” I'm not sure that's exactly what it reveals, since “you” are the one answering the questions, not your colleagues, peers or friends. Despite that limitation The Fascination Advantage does provide a new way of looking at personality styles, strengths and communication preferences

Here's my plain English explanation of the The Fascination Advantage: You answer a series of questions about preferences and how you would handle or relate to a situation. These questions identify certain personality characteristics and traits.

Advantages & Archetypes

Based on your responses, your dominant personality traits and communication styles are classified into themes called “Advantages.” Your results reveal a dominant Advantage and a secondary Advantage. When you operate and communicate in ways that are consistent with your Advantages you're more comfortable, more influential, more “fascinating” to the rest of the world.

When you pair your dominant Advantage and secondary Advantage on a matrix you get a an Archetype. The Archetype is supposed to reveal “how the world sees you.”

The system is designed to provide keywords you can use to explain your dominant and secondary personality traits and modes of communication to the rest of the world. Essentially, these keywords are the adjectives you can use in personal branding and showing how you add value and contribute when you're being true to yourself.

In other words, you might say that your Fascination Advantage is tied to your authenticity, to being authentically who you are, not trying to be something else.

My Fascination Advantage Results

I took the Fascination Advantage assessment twice over the course of 6-8 weeks, using two different codes and email addresses and got nearly identical results.

In both versions, my results placed me in the Trendsetter Archetype, which is a combination of Innovation as the primary advantage and Prestige as the secondary advantage.

Innovation was my strongest advantage, with a 20% “score” both times.

Prestige was also my strongest secondary advantage in both assessments, but there was a bit of variation in the Prestige score. July results: Prestige was 18%, while in late August Prestige was reported as 19%. The late August version, also reported the Mystique “Advantage” at 19% with a caveat that a tie-breaker question put me into the Prestige category for the secondary Advantage.

So, I think it's pretty clear that the ranking of my Advantages in this system would fall like this:

  • Innovation
  • Prestige
  • Mystique

Now, what do these labels mean? I'll cover that in my next post.

Have you taken The Fascination Advantage assessment? If yes, what are your thoughts  about it? Are your results consistent with your MBTI and StrengthsFinder results?

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Strategic, Ideation, Learner: StrengthsFinder 2.0 Themes

StrengthsFinder 2.0 is an assessment system developed by social scientists at The Gallup Organization to identify clusters of behavioral and attitudinal variables classified into themes or “strengths.”

The system was built on the research of Dr. Donald O. Clifton (1924-2003)  dubbed the “Father of Strengths Psychology.” The original StrengthsFinder system was updated in 2007 as StrengthsFinder 2.0 to reflect additional research.

The motivation for creating this assessment system is based on the idea that humans will be more effective and successful if they know what their strengths are and play to those strengths. The idea is analogous to swimming against the current. We can get a lot farther along the way, if we’re swimming with the current, rather than fighting it.

In the workplace, the idea is that teams should be comprised of the right balance of individuals with complementary strengths to maximize organizational performance.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 Results

I’ve taken the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment twice. The first time, in Fall 2007, I took it as part of a workplace assessment. Everyone in the law firm took the assessment with the idea that we could use this information to create teams to work on various client problems. The second time, in June 2012, I received a code to take the test again as part of a leadership training program I was in.

In this post, I’ll delve into the Strengths themes identified in my StrengthsFinder 2.0 results. If you’re following along, I’m writing a series of posts where I review and contemplate the results of various personality and similar tests. I’ve finished my deep-dive into MBTI results (four posts) and also reflected on the MoralDNA results and how the Strong Campbell Interest Inventory themes from my college orientation assessment are reflected in later career and life developments. The motivation behind this exercise is to help me find a way to do a better job of telling my story.

The results from my two assessments were fairly consistent, with three of the five themes showing up in both results.

2007 Themes

  • Strategic
  • Input
  • Learner
  • Ideation
  • Intellection

2012 Themes

  • Ideation
  • Strategic
  • Learner
  • Maximizer
  • Achiever

Strategic, Ideation and Learner were the three themes that appeared in both results. In fact, Strategic was #1 on the list in 2007 and #2 in 2012. ’ll cover those in this post and the others in future posts.

What’s interesting is that I can clearly identify how the disparate themes: Input, Intellection, Maximizer, Achiever probably surfaced in 2007 and 2012. I strongly suspect that these themes reflect particular frustrations I was feeling at the time.


The Strategic theme relates to a unique way of thinking and viewing the world.

“[The Strategic theme] enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large.”

StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 165

Strategists identify issues, find patterns and look for alternatives.

Keywords and phrases associated with the Strategic Theme:

  • Self-reliant
  • Identify patterns in complex data
  • Develop innovative ideas
  • “Propose systematic programs of action”

“You frequently identify ways to transform an obstacle into an opportunity.”

StrengthsFinder 2.0 Report



“You are delighted when you discover beneath the the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are….Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections….”

StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 113


Ideation is not about accepting information at face-value. The Ideator delves beneath the surface to compare, contrast, verify, and relate.

In a nutshell, someone with the Ideation theme likes to look at the world from a variety of angles and find commonalities. We are the dot-connectors.

Keywords and phrases associated with the Ideation Theme:

  • Creative
  • Original
  • Conceptual
  • Smart

My StrengthsFinder Report says this about Ideation:

“Acquiring knowledge and skills each day adds zest to your life.”

And that is the perfect segue into the next theme.


This one is pretty straightforward. Learners love to learn and they love the process of learning. It’s not about becoming the subject-matter expert: Learning is about the journey.

“[Learning] enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one.”

StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 133

The Learner is someone who quickly learns new words and grasps new concepts with relative ease.

The Learner theme also includes several references to a desire for quiet time for reading and reflecting.

“You thrive in situations where you can test your talents as well as your endurance to discover how much you can accomplish. You need to prove yourself to yourself each day.”

StrengthsFinder Report, Learner

I'm closing this post with the quote about the need to prove myself each day because it directly relates to the two themes I'll be covering in my next post: Achiever and Maximizer.

Have you taken the StrengthsFinder assessment? I know my friend Wade Kwon has written about wondering what to do with the StrengthsFinder results.

As I see it, this whole process of self-discovery through a systematic review of the qualitative data associated with all these tests is definitely revealing common themes across multiple measures. I'm about 70% of the way through my dataset right now, and I'm really starting to understand how I plan to use what I'm learning about myself.

There's a Strategy that's emerging from the process of Learning about myself through the MBTI and other data. Connecting-the-dots is exactly what we do in the Ideation theme.


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I Am A Perceiver

The Judging vs. Perceiving dimension of the MBTI is designed to measure how a person responds and relates to the outside world. Officially, it measures”Temporal and Structural Orientation.”

This is the one dimension where my type is clearly and strongly defined:

I am a Perceiver.

This post is another in my on-going series where I consider the results of various personality, skills, strengths and related tests looking for common themes.

According to the MyPlan Report provided with my September 2014 results, I scored 93% Perceiver. My MBTI results from 1996 also placed me clearly into the Perceiving side of the scale, although not quite as strongly.

Characteristics of the Perceiver

Key adjectives used to describe the Perceiver, according to the 2014 MyPlan report include:

  • Spontaneous
  • Flexible
  • Free-spirited
  • Genuine
  • Relaxed
  • Unorthodox
  • Impulsive
  • Laid-back and calm

Spontaneous, Flexible & Impulsive

This is me. The best examples come from the travel and vacation context.

I'm one of those people who will make an unplanned 25-mile detour to have a look at something called Toad Suck Park—a state park in Arkansas.

I once made an unplanned stop to check out the Capulin volcano in New Mexico and had to spend an extra night on the road. I knew I might not have another chance to see it, conveniently, so I changed my plans.

I have no problem with a last-minute change of plans. In fact, I much prefer to travel without a detailed itinerary.

Sheree at Capulin Monument Entrance 2010

Calm and Relaxed

I'm definitely laid-back, calm and relaxed. I've always been this way in public. I remember a high school classmate once saying to me something along the lines of: “You never seem to let anything upset you.”

Although I forgot the exact words, the message stayed with me because I realized it was true.  Growing up, I faced some challenges that “tested my mettle,” so to speak, and the result was that I developed a resilience and the inner confidence to know that I could handle whatever came my way.

I am human and I do experience emotional stress, but I am pretty good at processing it. I dislike traffic jams and unnecessary waiting, but as I've matured over the years I've worked to develop patience and found ways to reframe my response to situations that are beyond my control.

Unflappable: To the extent that something does ruffle my feathers or unnerve me, I almost always keep my composure.

In all my work life, I can think of one time when I got visibly upset in public. I'd experienced a series of frustrating obstacles that I did not understand. I could not figure out why everything was seemingly set up to be a roadblock. One day, after yet another incident, I slammed my office door, seethed for maybe 60 seconds, and then let it go.

Later, as I learned more about the situation and what was going on, it all made sense. So, once I understood what was happening, I just let it flow through me, like water under the bridge. Completely chill with it all.

Unorthodox, Free-Spirited

The one that I would least likely choose, if given a list of adjectives to describe myself, is unorthodox. I don't think of myself as particularly unorthodox. I'm fairly conventional in my values, but the reality is that I'm a never-married, childless heterosexual female. I suppose that's still a bit out of the mainstream. I never set out to remain single and childless, it just worked out that way.

But I do have a free-spirit. Not in the sense of being avant-garde or some ephemeral, flighty wisp who blows with the wind. My free spirit is more in the sense of just wanting to be myself—not trying to fit in by being just like everyone else.

I've always wanted to stand out a bit, put my own personal spin on things in my life, whether it's style or substance. In high school, I remember a few of us bought these unstructured overalls from the Army Surplus store and created a mini fashion-trend. They were a type of painters coveralls that had string-ties, but they were really cool looking. I wasn't SO out of the mainstream that I started this trend on my own, but we were definitely “fashion forward” with that look.

I tend to be a very early adopter, more than a first-mover. I still have my circa 1989 Doc Martens and wore them earlier this year to the first Instigator Experience.

Perceivers in the Workplace

The report I received in 1996 listed some of the ways a Perceiver likes to approach work. These three describe me very well.

  • Perceivers “enjoy flexibility in their work”
  • Perceivers “adapt well to changing situations and feel restricted without change”
  • Perceivers “tend to be curious and welcome new perspectives on a thing, situation, or person”

As with my commitment to the quest for truth, curiosity is a driving force in my life.

I believe curiosity explains why I need flexibility and change in my life—I need to be in situations where I can continually learn and grow. Once I have reasonably mastered a certain skill I'm ready to learn a new one. I love figuring out ways to connect unrelated skills to do something I haven't done before.

I decided to make academia my career focus in 2002 as freelance writing opportunities disappeared. The academic environment has, historically, been dedicated to learning, discovery, growth and new perspectives. What I've discovered is that someone with multiple interests and skills (like me) doesn't always have an “academic home.”

Case in point: In my doctoral program, I took classes in management theory and research, communication theory and research, film studies and information. As a result, I don't have a body of research in a narrowly-defined discipline. And, according to the traditional structure of academia, I don't have place where I “fit.”

On the other hand, I am a great fit for today's world where leaders must be multifaceted to connect-the-dots across disparate technologies and systems. The challenge for me comes in finding ways to show this through stories, not simply tell it on a laundry list of skills and accomplishments on a CV.

Strengths of the Perceiver

According to MyPlan, 2014, Perceivers:

  • “Adapt well to change”
  • “Are fun to be around”
  • “Can be entrepreneurial”
  • “Are not afraid to take risks”
  • “Work well under pressure”

Perceivers are all about flexibility. MyPlan 2014 says Perceivers “abhor strict hierarchy and prefer to work to the beat of their own drum.”

But just because we like flexibility and spontaneity, doesn't mean we aren't focused and prepared. In fact, the best squirrel chasers are always prepared for unexpected contingencies. That's why we thrive on change. We prepare for and embrace it.

dog sees squirrel copyright 2011 Sheree Martin

Desire to “Be Prepared”

Although I'm not a structured person, I am the person who anticipates contingencies and is ready to deal with them.

In spite of my preference for spontaneity and openness to change, I have a strong tendency to always be prepared and ready for whatever might come my way.

package of toe warmer heat packsI'm the person who keeps a pair of running shoes in the car, just in case I need to walk somewhere. And last winter, during Birmingham's Snowmageddon, I was the person who had running shoes, foot warmers and an extra jacket in my car–making it easy to walk home from work 7 miles, uphill in the snow.

For me, the unexpected Snowmageddon was a fun adventure because I was prepared. I live-tweeted my trek.


In other words, I like to know how to do things so that if I get in a jam or some type of emergency arises, I'm prepared.

I'm not sure where my emphasis on preparation fits into the MBTI, but I mention it here because it really is a big part of who I am.

Characteristics of the Judging Orientation

MyPlan describes the Judger as someone who “prefers order to chaos” and has “little tolerance with the free-spirited ways of the perceiver.”

Judgers want:

  • Order
  • Planning
  • Tidiness
  • Schedules
  • Control
  • Decisiveness
  • Structure

I like to be in control of myself and my choices, but otherwise I don't have much in common with the Judging side of the spectrum. My desire for control over my life sort of feeds my desire for flexibility. I want to be flexibility, which means I need to be in control. If that makes sense.

Applying the Results

One of the biggest takeaways I have from my review of the Perceiving vs. Judging dimension is a much better understanding of how my desire for flexibility and spontaneity can be at odds with the preferences of those who need structure and rules.

I had already begun to figure this out. But I was really astonished to learn that the strongest Judging types can find it difficult to relate at all to the flexible nature of the Perceiver. As a Perceiver, I think I'm pretty open to trying to understand others. Maybe that's just the nature of my type.

What is YOUR orientation to the Judging vs. Perceiving scale? Have you considered how your approach might be impacting your daily life?

I'd love to have a conversation about rules and structure vs. flexibility? Which do you prefer?



MBTI: Thinking vs. Feeling

As with the Introvert/Extrovert distinction, I also line up near the middle of the Thinking vs Feeling scale, according to the MBTI.

In 1996, my results placed me slightly into the Feeling side of the spectrum. In September 2014, my results were scored as 53% Thinker, 47% Feeler.

If you're following along, this is another post in a series where I'm reviewing the various strengths, personality, styles assessments that I've taken through the years. Ultimately, I'll synthesize all the results into the common themes I uncover.

You might call this project a qualitative analysis of the results of quantitative (or quasi-quantitative) data.

It's all part of my desires to always be growing and improving. You know my mantra: Discover. [Be]Inspire[d]. Grow. Shine.

I'll start with the descriptions of Thinkers vs. Feelers.

Characteristics of Thinkers

My 2014 MBTI results placed me 53% Thinker.

The MyPlan report uses these adjectives to describe Thinkers: Analytical, Logical, Rational, Objective, Fair, Thoughtful, Critical.


Here are a few statements from the MyPlan Report that explains the Thinking side of the scale:

  • “Thinkers believe that it is more important to be right and honest with themselves than it is to be liked.”
  • “[Thinkers] pride themselves on being very rational and objective.”
  • “The thinker seeks fairness.”
  • “Thinkers remove themselves emotionally from their decisions.”
  • Thinkers “train their minds on cause and effect reasoning.”

Objectivity & Fairness

I definitely agree with the first item. Although I like to be liked, I prefer to be accurate and honest. I would definitely classify myself as rational and objective in gathering information and that is a point of pride.

When it comes to making decisions that affect other people, I also strive to be objective and fair. In fact, fairness is extremely important to me. I actively strive to avoid showing favoritism and I'm willing to look at all evidence, not just the evidence that supports my position.

But I also look to the situation and what's at stake. For example, as a teacher in some classes I will give extensions on assignments as an accommodation to pleas for mercy because of x, y, z situation. I don't always like doing this and I'm less likely to do it for seniors than for freshmen. But in my current environment, scheduling accommodation is the norm and “being liked” by students matters a great deal (in teaching evaluations, for instance, which are deemed sacrosanct).

On the other hand, if I give an accommodation to one student for something, I'll also give the same accommodation to others in similar situations. In other words, once I've established an exception-to-my-rule, I'll be fair in applying the exception in all analogous circumstances. So I'm very fair.

When it comes to news and reporting, objectivity and truth is extremely important to me. One reason I stopped watching cable TV news is due to the shift to punditry and inflammatory hyperbole. Now, to stay informed, I peruse a range of online news sources and place a lot of emphasis on considering source credibility.

Cause & Effect

I seek to understand cause-and-effect, so the final bullet point above is also applicable. My favorite question is “Why”? I have an innate need to understand things, both holistically and the way variables relate to and impact other variables.

I'm very analytical in the first stage of my decision-making process and when I have to make complex decisions with far-reaching implications. As I said previously, when it comes to making decisions about complex problems, I like to gather facts objectively, analyze them critically, and then leave the problem for my subconscious to mull over and interpret while I do something else unrelated (sleep, run, hike, cook).


“….thinkers are possessed of a fervent and enduring quest for truth.”


Yes. That pretty much summarizes everything about me, my personality and who I am.

If the quest for truth is the defining characteristic of a Thinker in the MBTI, then I would clearly fall into the Thinker spectrum.

The Delta Zeta Creed includes the admonition

“…To seek the truth and defend it always….”

Truth is at the core of my being and that phrase in the creed has always resonated with me, perhaps more than any other part of the creed.

That said, knowing the truth does not require a revelation of all facts. Sometimes, it's necessary to keep certain facts private, to hold them in confidence, if making the facts known would unnecessarily hurt someone or cause pain. In this sense, fairness comes into play and values become paramount.

The Feeling Type

By way of contrast, the MyPlan report describes the Feeling type as someone who “believes that the right decision is the one that takes others' feelings into account” and “seeks harmony.”

Looking back to my 1996 MBTI results, I scored slightly on the Feeling side.

The MBTI Narrative for my 1996 results describes Feelers as someone who “uses values to reach conclusions” and “often let[s]  decisions become influenced by their own and other people's likes and dislikes.”

Considerate of Others

The reality is that I also do consider how other people feel about things I say and do, almost to my detriment. I sometimes might be too willing to adapt my own wishes to what other people want and need. I think this was more true in my early years than today. Nonetheless, my willingness to fulfill duties and responsibilities can lead me down the path of putting my own needs and wishes at the end of my to-do list.

Harmony is important to me, especially in personal relationships and environments where I have to spend a great deal of time. I tend to leave situations where there is a lack of harmony, if I'm not in a position to mediate and resolve problems. So in that sense, I also tend toward the Feeling side of the spectrum.

I've said more than once, that I want to be remembered as someone who was honest and nice to others. By nice, I don't mean a “patsy,” but someone who is compassionate and cares about the feelings of others. I suppose that's strongly associated with the Feeling side of the MBTI.

Considers the Underlying Values

Last week, I wrote about the MoralDNA test, which looks at the role of values in decision-making. Values are very important to me and my values system can be summed up by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

When I'm faced with a decision that will impact someone else in a meaningful way, I almost always look at how my choice will affect others and how I would want to be treated if the tables were turned. I don't always make the choice that serves others before myself, but sometimes I do and I try to avoid making choices that I know would hurt someone else.

Communication Preferences of Feeling Types

This is an area touched on in the 1996 report and I don't identify strongly with most of the communication styles listed. I do try to be sociable and friendly. That is something I work at, although I'm not a gadfly.

Beyond that, I'll admit that one of my weaknesses (at least to some extent), is that I'm also not a cheerleader-type. I tend to be “let's get down to business,” solve a problem and move on. I'm not the type of person who automatically thinks to send motivational notes and best wishes cards, texts or emails to friends. It's something I have to work at.

In the context of student expectations at Samford, this aspect of my personality style has been a problem for me. I am not accustomed to the “everyone gets a trophy” mindset and I was not prepared for the need to preface my feedback on writing assignments by starting with praise. I think I've adapted well to this expectation, but it is not my common approach.

I can understand the importance of giving positive feedback, as well as “here's how to improve.” It just wasn't my style–perhaps that comes from being a lawyer. Success as a lawyer depends on considering all the possible negatives and downsides and looking for ways to remove or mitigate risks.

I'm not swayed by rah-rah enthusiasm. I'm definitely more interested in the facts, not the spin on the facts. So I tend to want to poke holes in hyperbole, rather than be persuaded by it.

Am I A Thinker or a Feeler?

After thinking through these characteristics, I think that I tend to be more of a Thinker, overall, and strongly inclined toward Thinking when making big personal decisions. But on matters that affect other people, I also consider their needs, likes and dislikes. My desire to be fair means I have to consider others.

In short, I'm a human, not a robot. I believe in fairness, not autocratic bureaucracy. As I see it, purely quantitative decision-making cannot (or least does not typically) take into account all relevant facets of a situation. Objectivity is important, the quest for truth is paramount.

Are YOU a thinker or a feeler? Share your thoughts….I'd love to hear from you!


An aside: I began writing this post around 6 a.m., Saturday, November 1, with the goal of finishing it before I had to leave for an on-campus work event. It's the coldest morning since April. Here are the conditions in Birmingham right now. I thought it would be cool to include this from time to time, particularly in these posts that are more akin to journaling.

Weather Conditions Graphic Nov 1 2014 630 am