"I don’t want to be categorised and put in a box"

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 03/28/2014 - 13:28 by Bill McAneny

HorizonHow many times do you think I have heard this over the years when the notion of psychological assessment is mentioned? Or just as popular: “You can’t classify me I am different.” The problem is that people, like organisations, are like some other people, all other people and no other people. So why assess? It’s a fair question.

Well assessment is not about ‘putting people in a box,’ it’s about identifying some personality traits that help us understand people, help them better understand themselves and so begin the process of development. So if you record as an ISTJ it means you probably will display some ISTJ-like characteristics and that helps when you dig deeper into the whole person. You won’t be like every single other ISTJ. Indeed it’s almost like putting someone in a ‘box’ so that you can then understand them better and so, paradoxically, take them out of the ‘box.’

And it is so helpful as the starting point for self-learning. I used to work with someone who believed (truly!) that the way type worked is that you begin as an ISTJ on the top left of the grid and, if you work relentlessly, get lucky and try really, really hard, you finally can make it all the way to the pinnacle, the ENTJ personality down there in the bottom right hand corner! The Latin root of the word ‘education’ is ‘e-ducato,’ which means ‘leading out.’ So it is not about trying to be something we’re not, or be like that person over there, or this one over here. We are all OK as we are - the trick is to develop and become better versions of ourselves. So assessment is a superb starting point, but it should never be the end-point, or indeed a reason for not developing. Development is like walking towards the horizon - we never actually get there. But if we look back every so often, we can see how far we’ve come.

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