TEA Time and Temperament

On Tuesday I taught workshops for The Excelsior Academy’s TEA Time program. TEA is the largest homeschool network covering Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. I served as their commencement speaker three years ago and have presented for them annually on college and career advising topics. For this year’s workshop I built an interactive presentation called “From Temperament to Employment” that used Temperament Theory to help students discover which working environments might be the best for them. At the same time, the workshop was designed to help both students and their families understand how learning styles, motivation, and skills are influenced by temperament, and how understanding temperament differences can help you better understand your boss, your coworkers, and your family members.

As I have blogged before, Temperament Theory is one of my favorite career development tools because it is relatively simple and easy to use. By answering just two questions – How do I use language? (concretely or abstractly) and; “How do I use tools?” (cooperatively or in a utilitarian fashion) – we can divide people into four general temperament types. These temperaments are the predispositions or preferences we are born with and that shape the way we see the world. (See my earlier blogs on temperament I and II).

This was my first time offering this workshop and it was so much fun! I moved the group around the room, helping them to assess their own temperaments, play a temperament board game, and build a Fortune 500 company of their temperament roles. I also was fascinated by the results of what we found. In a typical population nationally, we would expect about 40 percent of the population to be Guardians (the traditionalist cooperative group), about another 35 percent or so Artisans (movers and shakers and rule benders), with only 15 percent Idealists (let’s all help each other grow), and 10 percent Rationals (intellectual/analytical/mastermind personality). In this group, however, the representation was very skewed. Probably 40 percent (the largest group) ended up in the Rationals category. This prompted a lot of good discussion about whether this temperament type is a particularly good match for homeschooling.

This was an interesting thought to me. Using temperament theory, one would expect Rationals to feel somewhat out of place in a traditional classroom. To begin with, being 10 percent or less of the population, there might be only one or two of them in any classroom. On top of this, Rationals tend to find the academic part of school relatively easy, and they seek to finish it as rapidly as possible and with the least amount of wasted time. With their intense, often discriminating personality and high standards for others, they are likely to find a traditional school room annoying, wasteful, and not the best use of their time. This can make for a rocky experience unless they are challenged and given freedom to pursue mastery of subjects that interest them. It wouldn’t surprise me, therefore, if these students and their parents often looked for other options. This was an unexpected learning moment! For an interesting set of questions to help you guess your temperament, try this worksheet.

I was so happy and blessed to be able to share this material. I had a number of students and parents that said that the temperament concept was going to help them both in discovering a career fit and in improving their relationships with each other. I’ll be looking forward to sharing this workshop with new audiences.

My new book, What’s Your Function? also delves into Temperament Theory, particularly as it relates to the way that we all grow and mature, and how our personalities change over time. If you find that you’ve hit a midlife crisis, or that you just don’t look at the world the way you used to, maybe understanding temperament can help. Check it out at What’s Your Function?

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What’s Your Function Release Date

My new career advising book, What’s Your Function? Working it out with God, will officially release online and in stores on October 15th – just a little over six weeks from now! If your local bookstore does not have copies on that date, you can request they order it for you. You can also find it on Amazon or  Barnes & Noble.com where it is available for preorder, or Christianbook.com, where it releases on November 4th. All three online locations have it on a 25% pre-release deal.

What’s Your Function? helps readers discover what role God designed them for, and how they can manage their careers with that design in mind. It has received great reviews so far, and I hope you will find it to be an inspiring and practical tool to guide your career planning.

You Never Know

About three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear my friend David preach in his church in coastal Maine. It was a treat. This was the first time I had heard him and I was blown away by how God is using him to really speak to people’s hearts. His messages are powerful, challenging, and clear.

Beyond just the messages themselves, it was inspiring to me to see how God works. You see, when David and I were best friends in high school, he wasn’t even really a believer. Oh, he participated in the traditions he had inherited. He was brilliant, intellectual, creative, and talented, but had no room for God’s design in his life. It would have been hard for me to imagine too many paths less likely for David than to become a missionary or a pastor – and yet he did both.

With God, you never really know. He is an expert at confounding our expectations, typically by bringing about something much more glorious than we could have imagined, even if we don’t recognize it right away. That gives me a lot of hope.

It gives me hope for the people I know and care about who seem to have no room in their lives for God – the self-sufficient, the skeptical, the too practical, or just too busy. To me they look like people who will never realize how much they need Him – but with God you never know.  Maybe those are the very people He will choose for His most amazing transformations.

It gives me hope in my own life as well. There are so many things that we spend our time on – projects, bills, chores, red tape, errands, mundane details -  that appear to have no eternal significance. So much of life in which we don’t feel we are making an impact. But with God you never know. If He is involved with you, there is eternal work being done.

Take a listen to David here:

David’s sermons online

He really helps me see into Paul’s mind better than anyone I’ve heard speak. Maybe that’s because Paul too was one of God’s surprises – an unlikely Apostle, but with God…you just never know.

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Looking “Foreword”

I’m happy to announce that Andy Chan will write the foreword for my upcoming book What’s Your Function? Working it out with God. Andy is the Vice President for Personal and Professional Development at Wake Forest University. A CSO Research Poll ranked Andy first on its list of Top 10 most visionary leaders in career services for 2013. His work has also been highlighted in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

I connected with Andy after reading his article in Faith & Leadership about taking a holistic view of career planning. Andy read an early copy of What’s Your Function? and has written a fantastic, insightful foreward to lead off the book. To see Andy in action, check out his TEDx talk above, entitled, “Career Services Must Die.”


(pre-order your copy of What’s Your Function? before its October release)


Grow Stronger

A Viking ship beaches on the shore of a northern wilderness. The warriors leap off one by one and head up the beach. One of the last men off is not a Viking, but a Middle Eastern court poet who has somehow been caught up in this adventure against his will. From the ship’s deck one of the Vikings calls out to him, “Here, you’ll need this!” and heaves down a very large sword. The poet barely catches it and yells back, “I cannot lift this!” The Viking gives him a wry smile and shouts, “Grow stronger!” (from The 13th Warrior)

I loved this great article about working in your strengths from blogger Matt Perman http://whatsbestnext.com/the-book/toolkit/do-what-energizes-you-not-what-weakens-you-what-it-means-to-work-in-your-strengths/
I’ll warn you ahead of time, it is a very LONG post, but worth the read. Matt argues convincingly that we should all be focusing and re-focusing on working from our strengths. It is easy to shrug this off as unrealistic, but Perlman disagrees, saying:

“Some people think this is a luxury. That this is the happy benefit of those who have finally ‘made it’ and hence have control over their work and time.

But I submit it is actually the reverse. Being able to do the things that energize you is not the luxury you get to have once you’ve been successful; rather, it’s the way to become successful. For you will work harder, longer, and with more diligence at things you love to do over things you dislike to do.”

He shares a few concepts I really appreciate, including the incredibly simple but also very effective way of identifying a strength, which he quotes from Marcus Buckingham:

“your strengths are those activities that make you feel strong.”

Almost weirdly simple, isn’t it? And yet really true. Think of the activities in your day that sap your energy. Now think of those things you do, hopefully on a somewhat regular basis, that suddenly refill your tank. What if those things were your primary activities?

The other concept I love is his description of strengths or talents as a multiplier.

“Here’s the important thing about talents: When you add knowledge and skill to an area of talent, the talent acts as a multiplier. Not an additive, but a multiplier. So if you add knowledge to an area where you have talent, you don’t become twice as good at it; you become ten times as good at it.

This is why it is best to focus on building your strengths, not areas of weakness. For the difference in effectiveness is immense. You won’t just be a bit more effective; you will be many times more effective.”

I noted with interest that he was clear that talents themselves are not enough, but must be paired with a clear interest or drive in that area. This is parallel to the way I explore combining your Purpose with your Insight in What’s Your Function?

Matt does a terrific job making the case for working in your strengths as a matter of Kingdom building and Biblical stewardship. He exhorts, “Don’t be like the guy that buried his talent in the ground.”

I hope you enjoy the post and see more clearly the strengths God has given you for His glory.

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