Finding Yourself

Finding Yourself by Dr. Scott Yorkovich

Photo by click. Available at morgueFile.com.

Do you ever wonder if you are a little sideways of “normal” compared to coworkers or friends? Do you ever see something that others don’t? Or have a reaction that is different than others? Or want to go a different direction than the crowd? I do. Sometimes, when working on a project with a team, I have an idea that is in a different ballpark. Occasionally, I sense something that others don’t. And from time to time, I will speak up and ask questions that are uncomfortable. Depending on the group I am working with, this either goes well or it doesn’t. We either grow to new heights, or we have some level of conflict. Either way, being different can be difficult.

Some groups embrace new ideas and different perspectives, and even welcome conflict. In these groups, there is a level of trust and transparency with one another and ideas flow freely. Debate and argument focuses on ideas and how to achieve group goals. The focus of debate is rarely people. I feel liberated and alive in these settings. This is something I experience with my LeadStrategic colleagues, Robert and Greg. I also experience this with most of my clients (essentially, it’s what they pay me to do). Unfortunately, these groups are not the norm.

Other groups tend to muzzle people who are different. They squelch ideas that challenge the status quo, interject mind-stretching perspectives, or question processes and core values. In these groups, I often feel like I’m in a “Whack-a-mole” game, but I’m not the one holding the mallet! My reaction in these settings is to triangulate the group’s sense of normalcy and to fit in—for a while. I don’t last long in these groups. I play nice for a while, so as not to burn bridges, but I watch for the next opportunity to exit.

Nevertheless, it is still uncomfortable and I often begin to wonder if I am the odd man. I question my own sensibilities and doubt my ability to contribute to the group. That reaction is understandable, but when I begin to question my value, I am going too far.

I’ve discovered something that makes a tremendous difference in keeping my confidence level up and forging ahead. I’ve come across a way to better understand how I am uniquely wired and how that can be leveraged to bring great value to others. The solution is actually quite simple: books.

Book Discovery 1

Recently, I’ve gone through a period of time where I feel like I’m in the Whack-a-mole game a lot more than I want. There are only so many hits to the head that anyone can take! Then I started reading a book and I found a little bit of myself in that book. I read about leaders who are insatiably curious, ask lots of questions, and see links between things that others don’t. I was reading about me! That book describes innovative leaders and I found out that part of the reason I don’t fit into some groups is that they don’t want innovation. They want smooth waters and status quo.

Book Discovery 2

Then I began to read another book, a biography about one of our country’s founding fathers. While I don’t claim to be on par with that class of leader, I found a little of myself in that book, too. I read about a man who had great ideals and was willing to stand up for them, to the point of risking his career (and eventually his life). They didn’t have Whack-a-mole games in the 18th century, but his head certainly got bruised! I felt like I was reading about myself in a small way. I identified with claiming certain values that are unpopular and are sometimes met with scorn.

Book Discovery 3

I’m currently reading a book about introverts living in an extraverted culture. Here again, as an introvert, I am finding myself in this book. I am reading about the evolution of a culture that favors extraverts and how famous introverts have found their way and made a mark (e.g. Rosa Parks, Theodor Geisel, and Steve Wozniak). I am learning just how our culture emphasizes extraversion and the value that introverts bring to that culture. As a result, I am building confidence in my value as an introvert.

Clearly, the effect of this reading has been encouraging to me. While no single book tells me all of who I am (no book can do this), each book has a nugget about me. Collectively, these books help me to understand more about myself and how to bring value to others’ lives and work. It helps me to avoid the feeling that I’m a fish out of water and to look for opportunities where I can be me the way God designed me.

What about you? Do you find yourself in the books you read? What kinds of books? What have you learned? Do you find that books help you see your own life and role more clearly? Please let me know. I believe these insights can be helpful to other leaders.

8 thoughts on “Finding Yourself

    • Could you elaborate on your thoughts,” I wonder if that is maturing, or just not caring anymore” ? There should be a wisdom and self-awareness maturing process we go through that happens at different ages for different people, but rarely before the age of 30.

      Tell me more about what you are thinking.

  1. Great blog entry, Dr Y! This is something that I pray about often. I have definite leanings toward extroversion and have received some negative comments in that regard,. so I really appreciated your last statement about being the way God MADE us to be (and feeling comfortable in doing that). Am I different? Yes. But am I OK in being who I am? At my age, I have definitely learned to be OK with who I am.

    For me, I tend to gravitate toward books that GROW me rather than analyze me. I KNOW who I am NOW, but recognize room for continued growth.

    • Good comments! I don’t want to get too technical here, but in the world of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) there is something called “type development.” Type development usually begins to occur in early mid-life. It’s a time when we start to understand the benefits of other personality types and even how to engage in them when needed. Keep in mind that no one is purely introverted or extraverted. The psychologist Carl Jung (whose work the MBTI is based on) said that such a person would not be mentally fit. Since you are not 100% extraverted, there is some introversion in there. Learning when and how to use that is “type development.”

      So, given that, what are your thoughts on the intersection of “type development” and the wisdom to be who God made you to be?

  2. I suspect that type intersection is probably very predictable within a person. I can tell you that I, for example, am a total introvert in the morning. I feel that it is important to understand that within ourselves because if we recognize it, we can make adjustments in our lives that suit our types. However, that is NOT to say that we should recognize it and allow it to become a crutch. While it’s true that God created us in a specific way, He doesn’t intend that we become stagnant, so recognition of our personality types can aid us as we seek growth opportunities.

    • Good thoughts. As we become more aware of who we are, we are better able to “blossom” into what God intended. This requires two things: knowing yourself better and knowing God better.

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