Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's your sign...I mean, style?

This is the first of many installments on the MLA 2010 Annual Conference that the western Maryland library staff (this means you!) will be posting to our learning journal and I am definitely excited to hear about all the adventures everyone had in Ocean City.

The first learning adventure that I'm going to share with you is the preconference I attended on Wednesday, April 21 entitled, "What's Your Style? 9 Paths to Personal and Professional Development" with facilitators Peter and Suzanne Bromberg.

This workshop centered around The Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram), a personality inventory that describes one's primary motivations, outlook on life, and how and to where energy and attention are focused. There are 9 Enneagram styles:
  1. Style One, aka: perfectionist, reformer, principled teacher
  2. Style Two, aka: helper, giver, pleaser, caretaker, mentor
  3. Style Three, aka: achiever, performer, motivator, producer
  4. Style Four, aka: individualist, romantic, creator, artist, poet
  5. Style Five, aka: investigator, observer, thinker, scholar, sage
  6. Style Six, aka: questioner, loyal skeptic, troubleshooter
  7. Style Seven, aka: adventurer, enthusiast, fun lover, cheerer
  8. Style Eight, aka: challenger, leader, boss, confronter
  9. Style Nine, aka: peacemaker, mediator, acceptor, connector
I am a Seven and my core motivation is to experience life to its fullest. But knowing which characteristics I borrow from other styles during periods of stress is actually the most beneficial piece of information I took away from the preconference. Each style is fluid and in times of stress and in times of security will morph into other styles. For example, when a Seven is feeling secure and stable she morphs into a Five and becomes more thoughtful, deep, and serious about ideas. Under stress however, a Seven starts to take on qualities of a One and becomes rigid, angry and controlling. Knowing this will help me become more aware of my energy and if I see myself becoming angry all the time I will know that I'm showing my One side and that I need to stop, take a deep breath, and reevaluate my situation.

Whew! It's a good thing we have some stress management programs scheduled in May!

On the other side however, if I notice my Five qualities starting to show I can take advantage of them as well, but for good instead of evil.

This is a topic that I'm very interested in and could probably blog all day about but, I won't, and instead I'll share one last take away.

In the afternoon we split up into groups by style to answer some questions about ourselves like:
  • What do we like about being Sevens?
  • What annoys or stresses Sevens?
  • Sevens are needed in our library because we...
But even that wasn't the most eye-opening part. The eye-openers came from listening to the other groups of styles share their answers to these same questions and making the connections between things they said and real examples from my own life (i.e. John Doe might be a Three because in meetings he's always saying, "get to the point" or "just spit it out.") which will help me modify my behaviors in the future in order to foster better relationships because I realize now that certain behaviors like in the John Doe example, are linked to core motivations and that they shouldn't be taken personally. If John Doe is a Three then it's important to him to be efficient and me spending time to give him background that I think he needs is just slowing him down so, in the future I can always let him know (after I've gotten to the point) that I have background information available and if he wants it he can ask me for it.

If anyone is interested in learning more about The Enneagram just let me know. The Bromberg's said it was OK to share their materials with anyone who's interested. In the meantime, you can take the brief, free version of The Enneagram inventory and learn more about your style at The Enneagram Institute's web site.

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