Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Enneagram

Frequently in class we do all sorts of personality tests, leadership profiles and other tests designed to help us evaluate ourselves better.  Some of them are interesting, some are fun and some really don't do a whole lot.  One in particular though grabbed my attention: the Enneagram. 

The Enneagram is a diagram with nine different personality types which relate to each other.  This is what really makes it interesting to me: each personality type identifies the typical personality traits and strengths, but it also adds the negative side as well.  Each type has a vice, temptation, weakness, and stress point.  After doing my test i discovered I am a two: the helper.  And it totally fits me as well, the problem is, i can see the negative points within me as well.  One of the bigger weaknesses of a two is that I am constantly looking outward to help others that I do not seek to help myself.  That is, I hide from my own self-examination by putting other people's problems before my own.  For me the lack of self-examination is not the only problem, when I do find problems within myself, I honestly struggle with changing myself.  

Great Mark, why the heck are you blogging this then?  Because finding my problems and working to fix them is my primary motivation of blogging.  But that is pretty damn boring Mark, who wants to read that?  Probably no one, but writing about it helps me understand me better, and maybe other people who want to get to now me better.  My first plan of action is to be less private.  

The other class exercise which struck me (and relates to this) was when the Professor asked each student to write down ten events in our lifetime which defines us and made us who we are today.  This was really good for me to think about but I never really delved into it further.  

Back when I was fresh out of college I was frequently depressed about myself and a generally negative person who was mad at everyone else in the world.  I kept looking back at my past and using it as an excuse to feel sorry for myself.  I was hung up on some negative things which affected me.  One day I realized I was a pretty decent person, not perfect by any means but sort of well rounded.  Then I thought about my past and realized I just needed to get over it.  My past is what made me who I was, and I liked who I was so why should I let the past effect me in a negative way?  Why should I be hung up on that crap and be a negative person who was angry all the time?  I couldn't come up with a good answer and that day I went through a major change in personality, leaving behind the negativity and looking to make a positive change for the future.  "My past made me who I am today, so why should I be mad about it?" was my new motto in life.  

So all that to say that my first blogging series is going to be about my history.  I am going to examine the top ten events in my life, positive and negative, and how they molded my personality to what it is today.  Along the way, I am also going to examine how I want to change and how I am going to do it.  

PS - I also changed the name of the blog again today to "I am Mine".  This has been the third time in the past week that I have changed it.  Why "I am Mine"?  I felt i needed to change the name and the song "I am Mine" by Eddie Vedder happened to be playing and it sounded pretty good.  I'm sure I will change it again but that is where it stands today.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Going to try This Blogging Thing Again

My first experience with blogging didn't go so well.  Not because people didn't read it (they didn't, but that is not why it was a failure.)  It was a failure because I didn't keep it up.  I don't blog because I want the world to know what I think of things, I don't blog because I have these powerful opinions I want people to know.  I blog because I am technology minded and it is a great way to journal.  So in that regard I could really care less if people read it.  I would actually be surprised if people read this to be honest.  However, this is going to be a journal for me, where I let me heart out and post my frustrations, joys, thoughts and beliefs.  The nice thing about posting online is the threat of people reading it.  The bad thing about it is if people really do read it.  I can be pretty opinionated sometimes and my ideas are not exactly normal all the time.  I will probably offend someone and I will probably make an ass out of myself (more of the the latter than the former.)  It's also a great way to keep myself accountable because in the back of my mind, when I post a commitment or an action plan on how I am going to change myself I will hold to it better just in case someone does stumble across my blog and decide to read it.  And yes, being introspective and trying to improve myself is probably the number one goal of blogging for me.

If you don't know, I am current in school for my Master's degree in Theological Studies.  What that means is that 10 years after I graduated from college, I decided to go back to learn about God.  I still struggle with grammar since in my work life, grammar doesn't matter at all so I haven't thought about it for 10 years.  Since a good part of the schooling centers around Spirituality, formation and self-discipline, I have taken a lot of self-examination tests such as Myers-Briggs etc.  Last year I took one called the Enneagram ( and it was eye opening to me in many ways.  Essentially it classifies people into 9 basic personality types.  Mine is called "the Helper" and it does a pretty damn good job of describing me in a general way.  What it also brings up is deficiencies common in each personality type and for mine it is self-examination.  And it is so true.  I am very critical of myself, and yet have a hard time actually identifying the root causes of my faults and doing something to fix them.  Which finally brings me back to blogging.  My hope and goal is that through this blogging experience, which is really more of an online journal, I can look at myself and make changes.  My blogging (for the most part) will not just be throwing opinions around or bitching about life or ranting about problems.  My blogging is going to include strategies on how I am going to change, examinations of how successful I was at making changes or if the change is even necessary.  Of course all of this may just be empty ideas if I don't sit down and actually write sometimes.  But then again, since I have actually blogged how important it is going to be for me to blog, I am more likely to actually do it now.

Where do I find my worth?

     Of all the movies which I have seen in my life, I am almost embarrassed to admit the one which has affected the way I view myself the most is "The Joy Luck Club."  Every now and then I am reminded of the scene where one girl has to find her "worth" because she does not value herself and thus her own opinion. I find my own value in success, and that is the problem: how I define success is skewed.  I make mental lists daily and check tasks off that list when they are completed or accomplished.  At the end of the day there is a lot left I need to do, I feel like I didn't get anything done so I get frustrated and stressed.  Some people may say "but making a list is a great idea!"  But the problem is, when crossing something off the list becomes the measure of success and therefore self-worth, it becomes a disease.  Even relaxing becomes a task to cross off the list.  Which is frustrating because relaxing takes time away from getting other tasks off the list.  So my worth is based on how much I accomplished that day.  And when I don't accomplish as much as I should: at least enough to not fall behind, I feel like a failure, like my worth is not what it should be.

     This is where the operations person in me comes into play; some people make building relationships with a priority in their lives, other people make production a larger priority.  I am the latter: I like to get things done.  I am good at getting tasks done.  The American work culture has built this into me and I accepted it because I am good at it.  I'm too busy to spend time with people, especially getting to know them.  It's not that it isn't something I value, I really do.  Its just that I don't set it as the priority when something needs to get done.  And when you are the type of person who is good at getting things done, but struggles with building relationships, you default to the easier of the two.  Why?  Because it is self-satisfying to put priority on what you can accomplish.  When you can't succeed in what you put priority in, your self-worth decreases.

     So how do I break away from all of this without becoming unproductive?  The first step is to become better at being relational.  This shouldn't be too bad as I have been relational in the past.  The challenge is the mindset.  All day at work and school I am focused and forced to put the priority on production.  Being relational takes an entirely different mindset.  It is about taking the time to listen to someone else's story, get involved with it and seek to know more and understand them better.  This leads to connecting with them better.  The more time I spend with the mindset of being relational, the more I improve at doing it because there is a shift in my mindset.  What shall I do specifically to get to know people better?  To build relationships with others?  My wife and I were discussing it this week and decided that church is the place to start.  Before we had Sydney we took joy in going to lunch with others after church.  We have gotten away from that because it just took too long.  Part of the problem was the size of the groups we went with.  We have decided to go to lunch with smaller groups each week.  This way lunch is not an all day affair, plus we can focus in a smaller group of individuals so it is easier to get to know each other.  Sounds like a great plan, why blog about it?  Mainly because I want to write more and get into the "slow down and write" mindset.  But also because of the journaling factor.  By writing about this and posting it, I can read about it years from now and see how I did.  It is also a matter of accountability; do I really expect people to read this and then hold me accountable?  No, not at all.  But on the other hand, if I post it I have to make sure I do it because someone might read this and if I rush home from church every Sunday it will be obvious I am not sticking to the plan.  Sticking to a plan is after all, where I get my self-worth...