I’ve been listening to organisational Wharton Professor /author/psychologist Adam Grant (b. 1981) this week. Grant is the author of two books: Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success; and most recently Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (for more on this title, listen to Grant in conversation here (listen online or download):
“…Consider this: Frank Lloyd Wright was a procrastinator. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are afraid of taking risks. Most of Beethoven's compositions are pretty awful. Conventional wisdom suggests these originals were successful despite their hemming and hawing, their hedging, and their many flops. But Wharton professor Adam Grant says these defects are actually fundamental to originality. In his new book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam investigates who comes up with great ideas, how, and what we can do to have more of them. This week, we bring you our conversation with him…”
But today I want to highlight a September 2013 blog post by Grant. The post is titled: Say Goodbye to MBTI, The Fad that Won’t Die.
I have long valued tools like MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator / derived from the thinking and writing of Carl Jung – some would say, one of his “armchair theories”) and more especially the Enneagram, but I also understand that there is not a lot of contemporary scientific evidence to support the validity of either their methodologies or output / classifications. Indeed, both have been characterised as pseudoscience. The data they require is not nearly comprehensive enough.
I’ve consequently held the output as highly tentative, one indicator of the many possible ways I could talk about my personality and preferences. For one thing, is personality inalterably fixed, or is it more fluid and capable of change? That said, I have derived insight (and thus some degree of self awareness) from both, but especially from the Enneagram. That said though, I’m not aware of any research that makes explicit any scientific link between better self-management and growth and your MBTI or Enneagram Types. I’ve always preferred a range of psychological assessments because we’re all complex, more complex than simply relying on MBTI and/or Enneagram.
I don’t believe my personality and preferences are labels that can be unchangingly affixed to me. Knowing my MBTI and enneagram types can, as Adam Grant notes, start a conversation, but they shouldn’t ever end the conversation! Neither do full justice to the sum of who any particular person is.
Personality it seems to me is a lot more fluid, and thus at any moment or stage in life I sit on a continuum, one that is influenced by many factors, including the particular circumstance’s I find myself in, environmental factors, genetic dispositions etc.
You’ll find Grant’s post here (or click on its title above). I’m largely sympathetic with its content.