Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Madness of Being (Part 1)

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

When I was just a small boy, around 3 years old, I “accidentally” killed a chicken. True story. I wanted one of our chickens, a young banty rooster, to ride in my little red wagon. But this chicken kept jumping out of the wagon. I got mad and frustrated… and choked the chicken…to death. I know, “choking the chicken” is a euphemism for another activity that has nothing at all to do with chickens. But this was really choking the chicken and the chicken did not recover. I have only vague memories of the event and they may only be there because family members got a kick out of telling the story as I grew older. But I really do see myself there trying to revive that chicken and knowing that I had done something wrong. I felt worse for the chicken than I did for myself. That may have been my only saving grace.

Mother was horrified and just knew that she had a budding young serial killer on her hands. But, that turned out not to be the case. By the grace of God and adult supervision, most notably from my grandparents, I did not end up on death row. I wasn’t even one of those mean, crazy kids that tortures animals and scares the crap out of other kids. My chicken choke was a turning point and I cleaned up my act. But at my core in many ways, I was and remain that impatient, easily angered, violent trigger small boy who choked that poor little chicken to death.

Over the years, I’ve taken a number of the personality assessments including the DISC, the Predictive Index and the Myers-Briggs. They all show pretty much the same profile. I am driven, competitive, impatient, hate routine and tend to be restless and easily bored. I am balanced between extroversion and introversion, somewhat of a risk taker but committed to following the rules and procedures. I am not the easiest person to work with or live with. On the Myers Briggs I am an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). From what I have read, that personality type is somewhat rare and difficult to get to know. I’m not sure an INTJ would write about their personality, so maybe I’m not really an INTJ. I’m right on the cusp of being an “ENTJ”, the "E" meaning extrovert. So maybe that explains it. I must be having an ENTJ moment as I write this.

I recently took what I think is the most accurate personality assessment I’ve ever taken. It’s a version of the Big 5 (OCEAN) that goes one more step and evaluates each of the Big 5: Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism; by two additional characteristics that are unique to each of the Big 5 traits. The overall results of my assessment didn’t really surprise me. But the degree to which I tended toward the extreme on certain traits and characteristics, tells me that I still have work to do.

Next time I’ll share the details of my Big 5 results, the good, the bad and the ugly…and the steps I’ve taken to make the bad and the ugly not quite so bad and ugly.

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