In one of my first weeks at my new job, I took an assessment test called the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument, which is a measurement designed to understand and describe people’s thinking preferences. As a newly-formed team, our goal was to pinpoint our individual thinking preferences, then understand how those preferences impact how we work as a collective group.
In the model, William Hermann defines four different modes of thinking, coded into four different colors:
1. Analytical thinking (blue)
2. Sequential thinking (green)
3. Interpersonal thinking (red)
4. Imaginative thinking (yellow)
Even before I started answering questions for the test, I knew what my results would look like. From a young age, I have always been very emotional: I feel things very, very deeply. I cry when I’m happy/free/confused/lonely/sad/joyful (yes, I teared up watching the new Avengers movie); I wear my heart very obviously on my sleeve; I apologize constantly and I feel bad if I don’t exhibit compassion, empathy, and kindness to others; and I love looking for meaning in everything. Every personality/thinking-based assessment I’ve taken, whether it be the 16Personalities quiz or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, has told me that I’m driven by my emotions to some degree, so I wasn’t expecting much different from the HBDI assessment.
Sure enough, when I opened the pristine white folder that carried my assessment results, I was not surprised to find a lot of red covering my charts. My key descriptors were: emotional, intuitive, musical, reader, and spiritual. My key work elements were: expressive, interpersonal,and writing. The color I had the least of? Blue, i.e. analytical. I was so red that, on a chart that overlaid similarities in our team’s thinking patterns, I was so dissimilar from the rest of my team that my point was literally off the chart. I was nowhere close to where the rest of my team fell personality-wise.
I’m used to this. In almost all of my friend groups, my work groups, any group that I am a part of, I have always been the most emotional, the one whose thoughts and feelings are clearly spelled out across her face. And while I know that there are a lot of great personality traits that come from being more emotionally-inclined, I have always looked at my emotionality as a negative thing, mostly because society has always characterized having emotions as a sign of weakness. In our world, to cry means that you’re not strong or confident, that you can’t handle yourself. To show vulnerability means that you are an easy target. To be free with your emotions means that you’re a little weird, a little left of center, and not a good leader.
When I got my HBDI results again, I questioned myself, and my contributions to my team, for a moment: Am I weak because I cry and feel deeply? Do people look down on me because I choose to be vulnerable? Will I ever be a good leader if I am so open with my emotions? I am so RED — do I fit in with the rest of my team? Am I in the right place?
When I shared my results with one of my best friends, she knocked some sense into me:
1. Being emotional, she reminded me, is not a bad thing. People who are emotional are kind, empathetic, compassionate, loving. That’s not bad at all.
2. None of us are defined by one personality trait. I am not just red — I am also blue, yellow, and green. 3.Having more or less of certain traits does not make you more or less of a person. It just makes you YOU.
I'm a mix of many traits. My emotionality, however, is my superpower. And it’s time that I stop looking at it as a negative thing. I pride myself on my intuitiveness, my empathy, my ability to connect with and understand others. I am glad people feel like they can trust me with their problems, their joy, and their secrets. I love that I shed tears during movies or when I listen to a song, and I’m especially grateful that I cry when I’m frustrated, because it means that I care.
We all have our own superpowers, our own idiosyncrasies and gems that we contribute to the world. It doesn’t mean that we’re outliers or that we’re weird. It just means that we all bring something different to the table. I think that’s a good thing, because if we all brought the same thing to the table, how boring would this world be?
This week, I encourage all of you to lean into your superpower, no matter if it’s red, green, blue, yellow, or a mix of all four. Allow your superpower, and yourself, to shine, because I guarantee that you’re making the world a better place by just being yourself.
Happy Monday, friends!