I have always admired candid and authentic individuals. According to Myers-Briggs, I am an ENTJ, which means I am naturally candid with a propensity for leading, thinking logically and strategic planning, and I have a strong personality. I can’t argue with or against these character traits, as I see them all as strengths, and yet I have learned that being aware of my weaknesses is nearly as important as knowing my strengths. In fact, my strengths are often directly tied to my weaknesses. My propensity for thinking or conducting research can make it hard for me to find my focus. I can be logical to a fault. Sometimes my natural response to events is just a little too candid! Sometimes my sense of logic causes me to lack empathy. On the other hand, I love to laugh and I would always prefer to find the humor in a bad situation than to wallow in pit of sorrow. I’d prefer to be calmly candid than overly dramatic, I’d prefer to be authentic.
My maternal grandmother was a mover and shaker, a straight-talker. When I was little I wanted to be her (or Indiana Jones) when I grew up. My grandmother was the ultimate caretaker, one of those mythical creatures, up before the sun with her pearls on, who could bake a loaf of bread, round-up a herd of cattle, and feed a calf, all before most people even put their feet on the ground. When my grandmother had finished with a phone conversation, she did not hesitate or hem and haw, she simply said, “well, I’ve got to go, goodbye.” And she hung up the phone. My grandmother earned folks’ respect, she loved and she was loved in return, and most importantly, she was authentic. I think it’s likely that my grandmother was an ENTJ.
There are 16 personality types identified by Myers-Briggs, and ENTJ is one of the least common, especially for women. Some women, like my grandmother, seem to find a way to peacefully exist with society, without losing their authenticity. I on the other-hand, as a woman, have at times found my personality type to be a challenge. Sometimes I smother my instinct to lead or I pretend that I don’t have a strategic solution, when I do. I often set goals, but lack the focus to achieve them. At times I shy away from speaking candidly when I should, which can result in an ill-advised burst of anger later. Sometimes, I lack authenticity and I get frozen, wondering exactly who I am. When I am feeling uncertain, it’s often easier to drizzle a glaze of sugar on something bitter or to cover harsh reality with a nice thick coat of sweet frosting. And yet, I have learned that a sugar glaze might turn out to be sickeningly sweet, whereas an authentic conversation is like a good cup of strong coffee. Energizing and to the point.
As each year passes, I am more aware of my weaknesses and I am better able to make a conscious effort to be authentic. As an ENTJ, I am a firm believer in setting goals and personal improvement. Each year on my birthday, I set a few goals to work on for the year. When I turned 35, I set-out to do things that made me fearful. A few weeks after setting this goal, I was given the opportunity to go paragliding. If I had not set my birthday goal, I would have made and excuse and anxiously skipped out. Instead, I stepped into my fear and discovered the true meaning of courage. Paragliding is a simple and accessible way to literally experience conquering one’s fear. Unlike jumping from a plane, which is totally insane, the para-glider runs down the side of a mountain (scary) until the wind picks up the parachute (safe like a baby) and she glides off the mountain and up into the sky like a balloon. If I had not set this goal, I would still probably not understand the true parlay between fear and courage.
This year, I have made a handful of goals that cover the financial, professional and personal realms, and all of them depend on my principal goal, which is to be authentic in my speech, my thoughts and my actions. To paraphrase Michael Jackson, if you want to change the world, look in the mirror, and start with yourself! And so, when you see or hear from me this year, don’t be surprised when I give you candid, not candy!
Candid: expressing opinions and feelings in an honest and sincere way.
Authentic: real or genuine : not copied or false; true and accurate; made to be or look just like an original.
Definitions copied from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary online June 9, 2015.