My fascination with personality typing began in college.
I was invited to join a group of fellow student leaders for a session on the “Strengths Finder” book and assessment. We each took the assessment and were presented with our top five strengths.
Mine were discipline, analytical, connectedness, learner and positivity. The insight was nice, but more than anything, I loved being given a shared language with which to discuss my behavior. An observer in the room would have heard exclamations of, “You have connectedness? Oh my gosh, me too!” Or, “Oh! You have spontaneity, and I have discipline. So that’s why we had such a hard time planning that event together.” All of a sudden, the synergy — or lack thereof — I felt with my peers was predictable instead of perplexing. It felt like magic!
Twelve years later, I’ve taken plenty more assessments. I’m a Myers-Briggs ISFJ. I’m an Enneagram Type 2w1. My DISC style is mostly yellow and green with a little bit of blue. My love languages are quality time and words of affirmation. I could go on. Suffice it to say, I can place myself in a lot of categories and speak many shared languages.
So, imagine my surprise last year when, at a values-based leadership workshop, I was told that I would be identifying my own values. No assessment. No categories. Just my life experiences and a picture of what I wanted to create in the future.
It took a few days and a lot of journaling to narrow down my values. The workshop facilitators asked some poignant questions to help along the way. At my funeral, what do I want people to say about me and my life? What do I stand for when things get tough? What decisions have made me the proudest? When I identify a value, what does that value look like in action? If you want a word bank to inspire you, Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead Hub has a great one.
Eventually, I landed on four values: dignity, integrity, learning and play.
These days, before I make a choice, I ask myself if I will be able to honor my values with my decision. Am I honoring the dignity and capability of myself and others? Am I clear in what is expected of me, and will I be able to keep those commitments? Will I learn something new, or will I help others learn something new? Will I be able to maintain a sense of levity and exploration?
I would encourage other dentists — whether you have been practicing one year or 40 — to take an hour or two and reflect on your values. Then, share them with your family, friends, co-workers or even patients. Who knows — it might start a conversation that surprises you, just like the workshop surprised me.