On Being Content

People are so different from one another. There are dozens of personality tests we take to analyze ourselves to figure out what kind of category we can put ourselves into. Whether it be the Myers-Briggs or Strength Finders or any number of other tests. These are nice and definitely interesting to read about to better understand ourselves and especially how we interact with others. I’m just tired of how these types of tests are used. And it doesn’t even have to be tests like these. We have our own perceptions of ourselves in light of how we view others and how we interact with them. Some would consider themselves extroverts, others introverts. We all try and grasp our own personalities and categorize ourselves so that we can understand why we interact with people the way we do. And some more than others.

In understanding how we think and why we do what we do, we begin to think that we are just that kind of a person. That it is integral to the part of who I am, and it doesn’t change. When we interact with others these things are manifested. For instance, because one is an introvert, they don’t feel like going out with a group of people they’ve never met before and go into the city for a party. That’s just not who they are.

In leadership roles these aspects become very important. How people interact with one another really is important for an organization, team, or group to move forward in unity. Self-awareness is a key to maturity and also healthy social interaction. It is incredibly helpful to work with a group of people who have a high self-awareness of their strengths, limitations, and personalities. However, we often stop there. And that is what I really have an issue with. We are content with who we are, convince ourselves that we don’t need to change, or even that it is possible to change, and we prevent ourselves from growing and maturing as individuals.

One might say that he is a big picture thinker. “I don’t like getting caught up in the little details,” he might say. Another might say, “I don’t get technology. I try to avoid it at all costs. I only want to communicate face to face.” Another might say, “I just don’t get along with people like that. I try to stay away from them.” Another might say, “I’m just not wired to think that way, I leave that for others to do.”

It’s one thing for people to say that in everyday life (which I still don’t think is appropriate), but it’s another to say things like that or to think that way if one is in a leadership role. The quickest way to limit the effectiveness of a group is to be content with where we are personally, not really willing to grow in any significant ways. Leaders must be willing to never be content with where they are personally. We must always be learners, willing to be challenged personally. We must not grow content with who we are. We must have a drive that seeks to be better people and better leaders. That requires thinking that we need to move past our own personalities and ways of thinking and learn from others. We can work out of our strengths and into areas in which we struggle.

When we think, “I am big picture thinker, I don’t like getting caught up in the details,” we need to think about how we can grow to appreciate the details more. If I am a leader and I find myself saying, “I have a problem with that person, I try to avoid them,” we need to think about how to grow in such a way that we can overcome that problem with that person, and not try to avoid them. If we find ourselves saying that “I’m not just wired that way,” we need to be willing to adjust some of the wiring.

It takes a lot of work, and honestly, it takes a lot of humility and maturity to be able to even desire to not be content with oneself.

Be content with what you have, but not with who you are.

I was just talking to a good friend yesterday and he was telling me about how he is trying to be more intentional about simply looking people in the eye and friendly greeting them. For him, this is not a natural thing to do at all (and it isn’t for me either), but he thinks it would help him as a person as well as affect others in a positive way. This is a simple example of how we can always be looking for ways to move outside ourselves. And yes, it is for our own growth and betterment, but ultimately it is for the betterment for everyone we come in contact with or lead. See, his sharing this with me helped push me in thinking about how I greet and interact with strangers and was an encouragement to take steps in changing that aspect of my life.

We have to be willing to learn from one another, to grow with one another. If we do this, we will find our lives and relationships to be more fulfilling and enriching than if we simply stay content with who we are, how we think, and how we interact with others.

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