Grow your personality
Each person has a personality type - an energy form - that defines and colours everything in our life.
That is why it is important to explore your personality. Because knowing yourself on a deep level can help you increase happiness and fulfillment.
Discover your energy form
Dr. William Moulton Marston at Harvard University researched personality types and came up with the DISC system. The DISC system is a method of identifying predictable actions and personality traits within human behaviour. Marston narrowed these predictable personality traits into four distinctive colours / energy types. You can take the DISC here:
However, each energy has its limits and weak spots. To become truly effective as a person, you need to explore, develop and understand different personality traits so that you can adapt to any situation.
The Origin of the Four Personalities
The DISC personality system can be traced back to ancient history. Empedocles proposed that everything in the world was made up of four elements; Fire, Air, Earth and Water. These represent the four personality types of the DISC system.
Even though there are no pure styles, meaning that our psychology always contains all the four elements, we do have a dominant style. This style determines how we think and process, how we perceive things and how we make decisions.
The DISC System Dichotomies
The DISC system is made up of two axes that define a persons internal motor and external focus.
Internal Motor: Outgoing vs. Reserved
The vertical axis describes our level of extraversion or introversion. Individuals with extraversion obtain energy from interaction with others. They take the upper hand in any conversation and are more outgoing and sociable. Conversely, introverted individuals prefer going along. They are more inwardly focused and reserved in their responses.
External Focus: Task vs. People Orientation
The horizontal axis describes our focus towards things. Individuals with a task orientation are focused on results. They are pragmatic in their approach and focus less on the emotional side of people. Conversely, people oriented individuals focus on the warmth of social relationships and the harmony in any social situation.
In short, the DISC framework is one of many models being used in the landscape of behavioural analysis, helping us to understand, predict and change human behaviour. In this article I outline how your DISC color defines your:
- Personal strengths and weaknesses
- Communication with others
- Cooperation with each personality type
- Charismatic qualities
- Motivation for physical exercise
- Happiness with yourself
- Thinking habits
Strengths and weaknesses
Each energy form has its strengths and weaknesses. In the paragraph below, I outline how each energy form can be an advantage and disadvantage in various situations.
D style (Red)
"What is the point of playing if winning isn't the goal? "
The D style (Dominant) has the goal to go for victory and beyond. Their efforts are always focused on results and personal accomplishment. These are the fearless leaders that present themselves with authority and determination. They go straight to the point and love a challenge.
Individuals with a D style personality are natural decision makers. Taking risks and focusing on innovation, they forcefully organize any project they feel engaged in.
However, D style individuals can become impatient, self-critical and blunt in their approach, especially if they think things don't go as fast as they should go. They want to race to the finish and do not like impairments to progress. Always going as fast as possible, just because it is possible.
I style (Yellow)
"Whoever is happy will make others happy too "
The I style (Influencer) has the goal to go for the positive vision, creating openness and optimism among others. They like to stand in the spotlight and motivate others to come along and participate in the ideas they advocate. They know how to inspire enthusiasm in others, creating a high spirit and cheerfulness among their peers.
Individuals with an I style are trusting of others, talkative in a friendly environment and they value a sense of humor. They are also good at encouraging others and negotiating conflicts.
However, they can become impulsive and too outspoken. They fear being rejected, not being able to persuade others or not being heard. Details of a vision are not for them because they rather focus on the energy of the interaction that is being created among people.
S style (Green)
"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common "
The S style (Steadiness) has the goal to go for collaboration, agreement and acceptance. They are calm and accommodating in every situation. With a high level of loyalty and empathy, they are great listeners and prefer teamwork over individuality.
Individuals with an S style prefer predictability and conformity to the status quo. Things are good how they are. They are also good at reconciling conflicts, but never take the upper tone in order to keep the peace.
However, they can be oversensitive and slow to begin. When in conflict, they compromise to maintain the harmony, and prefer not to let people down. They support others where needed, but it can lead to deference of their own goals.
C style (Blue)
"It takes less time to do a thing right then to explain why you did it wrong "
The C style (Compliant) has the goal to stay logical and rational, valuing accuracy and analyzing complexity before jumping to any conclusion. They are reserved in their approach and contemplate all the possibilities before they make a decision.
Individuals with a C style are even-tempered and thorough. Systematic research and precise measurements is a safe zone for them. They are also careful and prefer clear-cut boundaries.
However, they can be overly cautious, fearing they are wrong. This can create rigidity and analysis paralysis, becoming too perfectionistic without getting any result. Instead of arguing they rather give in because criticism is something they prefer to avoid.
Your energy form also defines communication
Its important to understand that each energy form can be of great value in a team or during an interaction. But it's important to take into account that other people can have a different energy form, and thus a different approach towards the interaction.
The difference in communication is because everyone looks with different glasses at the same problem or situation. Someone with a dominant red color will be the driver of goals and results in a conversation and will focus on this aspect. Someone that is yellow will look to the future side and will focus on innovation and creative inspiration. On the other side, a person with a green energy will focus on teamwork by supporting others. They will have softer language and are less focused on the goal but rather the feeling and emotional side of the problem.
When you understand your energy and how it relates to others, you can become more effective in your communication. Especially when you feel that your default language of communication isn't effective with them.
Below is an overview for each color and how you should communicate with them.
D style (red)
When communicating with D style individuals, focus on the bottom line and what you truly want to say. This type of communication will ensure that D style individuals will appreciate your opinion.
Directness is their language so don't repeat yourself and don't talk in vague circles. Focus on the solution and what the action steps are to get there.
I style (yellow)
Communication with I-style individuals should be focused on positivity and the sharing of meaningful experiences. Because they are engaged in innovation, motivating people and sharing success.
There is no use in going into the specifics or negative aspects of an idea. I Style individuals do not like to talk about this because they prefer to remain in a positive mindset.
S style (green)
When communicating with S style individuals it is important to do so in a personal way by showing engagement. Be supportive and ensure they feel accepted as a person.
Express your interest and expectancies. And instead of being confrontational or rude, clarify your opinion with politeness and show them that you value their presence.
C style (blue)
Communication with C style individuals should be focused on the facts and details. This it what makes them engaged; planning and working with precision while doing it the right way.
Go into the specifics and be tempered in your language. Verbalize yourself with patience and diplomacy in order to ensure they come along.
The Charisma of each energy form
Becoming charismatic - regardless of your personality style - means having a magnetic energy that attracts other people. It is about knowing your type of energy and how you can use this energy to communicate with self-confidence.
“What impact people isn’t the words or content used. Rather, they remember how it FELT to be speaking with you“
- Olivia Fox Cabane
In the book The Charisma Myth, Olivia Fox Cabane mentions that Charisma has four styles. Using the right style depends on your personality, goals and the situation or context.
D Style Charisma - Authority
Power Charisma focuses on visible power, giving others the feeling that you have authority and that you can change the world. It is based on the perception of authority, while maintaining a strong body language. This type of charisma emanates a strong posture and influence, 'hard focus' eyes, combined with a status appearance.
Authority charisma is characterized as confident expression, while also using up space in the environment. Nodding and other verbal reassurances are kept to a minimum and tone and speed of voice is low.
It is a great method to impress others when they need to be impressed, for example in business situations, a crisis and moments where compliance of others is required. However, it becomes contra-productive when there is a social setting or when creativity and constructive feedback are required.
I Style Charisma - Visionary
Visionary Charisma is focused on inspiration and allowing other people to believe in your dreams. On the one hand there is confidence in a cause and on the other hand a level of warmth and passion. Thus, Visionary charisma is an effective method to deliver a message that has to ignite others.
Visionary Charisma is characterized as altruistic, meaning that the person is pushing the vision instead of him or herself. Complete conviction and belief in the vision is what you want to instill in others. This charisma uses gestures of certainty and energy that is transferable. It is the charisma you use when you want to create an emotional bond with people for a noble cause.
S Style Charisma - Kindness
Kindness Charisma allows you to make others feel seen and heard. By using this type of charisma other people will feel that they are safe and supported. It works especially well when bad news has to be delivered with utmost care. This warm feeling can give the person peace and acceptance when a tough situation is at hand.
Kindness Charisma can be characterized as the soft approach. It is very useful for situations where diplomacy and empathy are required. Body language is mirrored, making the other person feel welcome and comfortable. Voice and pitch is also matched with the other person. Eye contact is soft, with relaxed eyes displaying goodwill and compassion.
C style Charisma - Focus
Focus Charisma is especially useful when people need to feel engaged with you. It is rooted in the ability to communicate respect, presence and confidence with the goal to get people to open up. In hostile situations or negotiations, this type of charisma can help you diffuse the tension.
Focus Charisma is about appreciating the other person, allowing them to feel free to share while giving them the feeling you understand them. Nodding, saying yes and maintaining eye contact. It is about being truly interested in what the other person has to say.
A final tip to cultivate Charisma
Olivia also mentions that all charisma is comprised of 3 main elements; Presence, Power and Warmth. These three elements vary in levels, depending on the type of Charisma that you want to display.
Presence is required in all types of charisma. It is the ability to be undistracted by emotions and thoughts. Power is the ability to feel powerful with your emotions to inspire others. Warmth is the ability to express gratitude, wishing people well, and creating a soothing state of mind. Try to use different types of Charisma in different situations to increase your communication and effectiveness with others - personally and business wise.
Your energy form and physical exercise
Each energy form also has a unique way to be motivated for physical exercise. Once you understand which motivational drivers you have, it becomes easier to adopt a sport activity that is in line with your personal style.
D style motivation
D style individuals focus on one-on-one sports with a competitive element. It can be powerlifting or weight training for performance and physical appearance. Overall, they like adrenaline, results and prefer individual sports over team sports. Basically, they look for challenging sports activities in a motivating environment.
I style motivation
I style individuals are a bit more focused on team sports, like soccer and volleyball. Fresh competition is still something they like, but it can also be in teams against each other. Short term goals can motivate them because they can see improvement over time. But, they need praise for their effort, which motivates them to do their best. Basically, they look for social and spontaneous activities, while being motivated by external factors.
S style motivation
S style individuals prefer team sports without any competition. They prefer cooperation or sports where performance not prioritized. Aerobics and group classes are ideal for them. Especially if they can socialize before and afterwards. These individuals needs constant reminders of their goals through their peers to stay motivated, with feedback that is not too critical.
They prefer to feel secure and comfortable with a repeated and consistent workout schedule, while being recognized for their loyalty and adherence. Basically, they look for controlled and risk-avoiding activities in a supportive environment.
C style motivation
C style individuals prefer sports where socialness is avoided. They prefer focusing on incremental progress, learning something thoroughly and knowing the details. But, they need measurable results, having benchmarks and visible ways to displays facts and statistics of how they are doing.
With a perfect plan for execution they like to do exactly what they intended to do. Basically, they look for non-social and controlled internal activities, while being motivated by internal factors.
Your energy form and level of happiness
In his TED talk, Martin Seligman talks about the state of psychology, and how there are three different 'happy lives' that we can lead.
The Pleasant Life
The first life is a pleasant life, in which you have as much positive emotions as you can. The goal is to have as much pleasure possible. However, pleasure also habituates immensely, with the repetition of each experience making the experience itself less pleasurable. So it seems pleasure alone isn't the key to a happy life.
The Good Life
The Good Life focuses on three aspects of life; work, love and play. To be engaged in each of these aspects is the goal of living the good life.
The Good Life states that we should become absorbed in these aspects, something that is called flow. Time stops and you feel completely immersed in the moment. Instead of pleasure (comprised of thoughts and feelings), you can focus on being one with the moment, called Eudaimonian flow.
The Meaningful Life
The Meaningful Life consists of knowing what your highest strengths are and using them in service of others. This ties nicely into the strengths of our DISC to provide value and meaning to others. Seligman mentions that it is the strongest contributor in order to become happier with yourself. For example, each energy form can contribute to others in a different way:
D style individuals can be like Fire: leading and helping others with obtaining results to achieve a certain goal.
I style individuals can be like Air: inspiring others and giving them belief in a cause.
S style individuals can be like Earth: supporting others with warmth and acceptance in a safe environment.
C style individuals can be like Water: guiding others towards flow and helping them understand on a deeper level.
Using your DISC to live a full life
The DISC system is a framework that can be used to gain insight in various aspects of your life. But I prefer to see it as a tool that can be used in different situations.
In the book The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, the authors Burger and Starbird describe 5 elements of effective thinking. Besides the four elements of Fire, Air, Earth and Water, they also mention a fifth element called the quintessential element of change and transformation.
The book suggests that we can adopt different elements of thinking to become more effective.
The element Fire is connected to the red dominant personality type. It is focused on moving forward, igniting action in yourself to fail, learn and try again. Instead of being frozen and unable to move, fire thinking is about advancing. This type of thinking is characterized by a mindset that wants to win and battle for anything you aspire to. To connect with fire thinkers, embrace the attitude of dealing with determination and adversity.
The fire element is similar to breaking a sweat. Like Thomas Edison said; Invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. In other words, fire thinking means working hard for something, incrementally making mistakes until it transpires into something new and you get it right.
The element Air is to generate inquisitive questions and inspirations out of thin air. This element is connected to the yellow influential personality type. It is focused on building clarity by removing vagueness and uncertainty. Air thinking is about re-framing the question so that the problem and the solution are seen from a different perspective.
The result of this type of thinking is that you get a 'breath of fresh air', cleansing the way towards new and deeper knowledge. When you are air thinking, don't get bogged down with details and facts of every detail, instead focus on creating curiosity and open-mindedness. Ideas are in the air, so use critical questions to make them visible.
The element Earth is to strive for a rock-solid understanding while focusing on the fundamental basics. This element is connected to the green steady personality type, that listens to understand. Having attention on the other person. Earth thinking therefore focuses on extracting root causes of problems by listening extensively.
Expectations are removed, biases and preconceived notions are ignored. Green earth thinking therefore allows you to get closer to the core of the problem. Becoming grounded in your thinking is therefore about deeply understanding the issue at hand and being steady in your approach towards an objective.
The element Water is focused on the flow of ideas, looking backward and forward. This element is connected to the blue compliant energy type that reflects on ideas and generates new ideas based on flow. Water thinking is about letting ideas come from the past to the present. With deep thought and your analytical sense, step back and let the problem sink in.
As a result of Water thinking you will obtain a detailed understanding of a situation.
The Fifth element: Change and Transformation
The last element of effective thinking is to know that you can change and transform any aspect of your life. This is the key element that overarches all the other elements.
The authors call this element the meta-lesson, the growth mindset versus a fixed mindset that allows you to change effectively.
Life is about constantly improving, becoming a transformative thinker, and learning to use the four elements in your daily life to create better thought patterns.
So, the five elements can help you on your path: Earth centering your ideas, Fire inspiring your confidence, Air clearing your thoughts, Water crystallizing your understanding , and the final element – Change – leading you to success.
Grow your personality to master your life
The time is now: become a human chameleon and grow your personality!
TED Talk - Scott Schwefel - Your personality and your brain
Cabane, O. (2012). The Charisma Myth - How anyone can master the art and science of personal magnetism
Burger, E. & Starbird, M. (2012), The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking