A “Little Personality Test”
Last night I attended a pre-college seminar at my daughter’s high school, where a counselor described to a large group of overexcited, vicariously ambitious and excessively stressed parents some standardized tests of knowledge and reasoning skills to help their (also stressed) children get into college.
There was a detailed presentation on the key test components, and then, almost as an afterthought, the counselor mentioned “there’s a little personality test in here, too.”
Later in the session, she again mentioned the little personality test, and then used the word “little” once more.
It is possible she meant the test was brief or short, but judging from her voice inflection, which sounded dismissive or condescending, I think she meant “little” as “insignificant,” or “nice to know but don’t need to know.”
There is a lot of debate now on how relevant high schools are. From abysmal graduation rates to the question of how well high schools are preparing children for the competitive, economic and social reality of today (versus one that existed 50 years ago), there is a sense that something is wrong. Bill Gates is now the chief advocate of reform in schools.
To connect the dots, I’d like to suggest that knowing one’s self (of which the personality is but one part) in order to find one’s place and succeed in the world today is more than a “little” matter.
For sure, the kids need to know science and engineering, particularly if they’re going to be scientists or engineers. But the research now is consistently showing that emotional intelligence is a much larger predictor of success in work and life than just specialist knowledge. It’s not an either/or, but a both/and.
But don’t call the self-awareness piece “little.”
I have now met thousands of people unhappy in their jobs who were unable to connect their lack of knowledge of who they really were and what they really wanted with the unfortunate outcomes they got. Feeling like they had to fit in to someone else’s mold, or feeling like distinctive or unique parts of themselves were to be covered up, or simply not knowing what made them happy had led them to some real regrets, particularly at midlife.
There are many tests you can take to help piece together the puzzle — unprecedented in human history, and never to be repeated — call “you.” The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator, the Strong Interest Inventory, FIRO-B, Disc, the Strengths Finder Assessment and others can all help you understand yourself better.
Just don’t call this knowledge or matter “little.”