Okay, that title is a multiple choice question, not a rhetorical one. What kind of animal are you? Here are your choices:
Now, if you’re jumping out of your seat right now with your hand waving in the air, saying, “Oooh, tell me which one I am!!” you can take a seat. You’re an Otter.
If you’d like more time to think this over and more specific details about the animals, you’re probably a Beaver.
If you’re waiting patiently for me to tell you which one you are, you’re probably a Golden Retriever.
And if you think this list is silly and you’d rather use your own list, you’re probably a Lion.
While that was not a scientific experiment, and no one is strictly all one personality type, it is interesting to see how similar we can be to the personality profiles that are out there. The one I’m highlighting today is from a children’s book by Gary Smalley and John Trent called, The Treasure Tree. I remember reading it with my youngest when he was seven and it was amazing how quickly he could identify some basic traits in our family members.
The story follows four animals (you guessed it): A lion, otter, beaver and golden retriever who are best friends heading out on an adventure to find a treasure tree. Four keys must be found and each of the different personalities comes in handy to help find the keys.
It’s a great way to introduce young children to the concept of personality styles. I love the idea of kids learning about this because I desperately wish I had understood it at a younger age. I think it would have helped me to be more secure in who I was and not as easily intimidated by people with different personalities.
You may not be familiar with these particular personality styles so I’ll give a quick overview. (For today, I’m using the animal names used in the Treasure Tree but in parenthesis, I’ll indicate the corresponding personality style from the popular DiSC profile.) Keep in mind, most people are a combination of two or three of the styles, with one or two being the most predominant. For example, I’m a Golden Retriever-Otter with some Lion thrown in for good measure. As you read through the characteristics, I bet people will automatically come to mind for each animal.
Lions are extroverts who are task oriented. They are leaders, partly because they enjoy being in control. They love a challenge and they expect people to follow them and do things their way. They make decisions quickly, without showing any fear. They have to be careful that they don’t come across as arrogant and unyielding.
Otters are extroverts who are people oriented. They love to talk and they’re the life of the party. You know it when they walk into a room because they make their presence known, often speaking or laughing loudly. They are fun and spontaneous, playful and enthusiastic. On the down-side they tend to be disorganized, chronically late and have difficulty focusing on tasks. They despise details.
Golden Retriever (Steady)
Retrievers are introverts who are people oriented. They are kind and compassionate. They like security and enjoy a small group of close friends. They make others feel welcomed and loved. They are great listeners and are loyal friends. They avoid conflict and change, preferring to keep the status quo. They can be stubborn and they don’t always like to try new things.
Beavers are introverts who are task oriented. They are organized and they love the details, always asking lots of questions. They finish what they start. They can be very creative and inventive. They like order and predicability. They have to be careful not to be too critical of others or expect others to live up to their high personal standards.
If you’re a mom or dad, I’ll bet you can see your kids in some of those descriptions. I literally have one of each. And it helps me to know that my Golden Retriever-Beaver doesn’t want to sing in the school musical because it’s just not how he’s wired. I have some Otter in me so I like to be on stage and for a while, I truly couldn’t understand why he preferred to be on the stage crew, behind the scenes. I just thought he needed more encouragement to get out on the stage. But as I applied what I know about personality styles I realized that he has little to no Otter in him so it’s completely understandable that he doesn’t want to be the center of attention.
On the other hand, I have an Otter who never stops talking. Every day, when he gets home from school, he asks who he can go play with. Every day! His social calendar exhausts me. And while I set limits because I can’t allow “play-dates” every day, I understand that being social is hard-wired for him. He thrives on social interaction. Knowing that helps me put more effort into arranging for friends to come over.
How about you? Do you see yourself in these descriptions? Do you see your kids, spouse or friends? Learning more about how the personality styles interact can be incredibly beneficial in all your relationships. I could probably write 5 more posts on this subject, there is so much to talk about (there’s the Otter in me, coming out again.) But for now, you could take an online assessment. Some assessments cost money, others require an email subscription and some are just free. If you google "free online disc assessment" a wide variety will come up. Enjoy the process and keep in mind, these kinds of things are meant to help you figure some things out but none are perfect and none are for boxing you in to one type of personality. Have fun with it but don't take it too seriously! (There's another assessment tool called, Strengths Finder, that I absolutely love. I'll do a future post on that one!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on personality profiles/assessments in the comments below!
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Note to my Readers: In the transition to this website I will be posting some of my most popular blog posts from my original blog. This one was, by far, the most viewed post on my blog. I think people are fascinated by personality profiles and figuring out what makes us tick. None of it is 100% accurate nor is it meant to box people in. But if it's looked at as a helpful tool, I think it can really help make relationships easier. I'll be posting more on the subject for sure. Stay tuned...