In his latest book, The Path: A New Way to Think About Everything, Michael Puett presents 8 things to do if you want to make positive and lasting changes to your life.
I had not come across Puett’s writing until recently when I saw him interviewed about the book. One of his points in particular made me sit up and listen:
…Stop Taking Personality Tests
Puett is an expert in Chinese philosophy and a professor at Harvard, so I was really interested in his ideas. My immediate thought was ‘what? No! ludicrous’. But then as he explained what he meant it quickly became clear that this was more of a click bait headline than the full story:
“It’s a fun exercise to learn that you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or anything in between. But beware of taking any labels too seriously. All the Chinese philosophers would have been surprised by our modern-day penchant to diagnose our personalities: I’m a hothead, I fear intimacy, I’m a dreamer and so on.
Labels can be damaging because they drive our behaviour and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
‘As a result, too many of us wake up one day feeling stuck inside a narrow definition of ourselves…
You might think, ‘I’m the sort of person who gets annoyed easily,’ but it’s likely that you have become that person because that’s how you have behaved for years. ‘By being loyal to a “true self” you ended up concretising destructive habits.’ “
I agree with Puett. Although I don’t believe we should write off personality tests. They have a very important role to play. I know from conversations that personality tests have been life changing and dare I say even life-saving for many introverts and highly sensitive people
What do you do with the results of personality tests?
This is an important question. It is one that holds the key to whether or not these kinds of tests are beneficial to us (and the world).
I believe that personality tests can either release us and imprison us depending on what we do with the results.
In this episode of the podcast we think about certain do’s and don’ts of processing our discoveries, so that we don’t fall into the traps that Puett believes make personality tests a negative thing…
- Allow a Label to Think for You
- See Personality Type as a Diagnosis
- Remove Yourself From All Others
- Pigeon Hole Everyone Into Your Favourite Latest Personality Test
- Try Finding Yourself
- Allow them to Help You See the Bigger Picture
- Allow them to Be the Foundation of Better Interactions and Relationships
- Use them to Understand Relational Friction
- Be an Advocate for Different Types
Over to You
Have you taken personality tests? Have you found them liberating or do you relate to the negative impact that we explore in this episode of the podcast? Please leave your response in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you think!
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