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This Week's Inspiration
Why Aren’t You More Like Me?
The Chapter on Holistic Approach to Devlopment
and Understanding of Self and Others
Part 1 of 2
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A Holistic Approach to Development
and Understanding of Self and Others
Are we Nature or Nurture?
Are we a product of nature (born that way) or nurture (input from our environment)? The answer is we are a combination of both nature and nurture. Each person is born with many parts that form the whole. We gain knowledge and beliefs (nurture) as we participate in life.
Let me explain. Your Personal Style strongly affects everything you choose to do and the way you choose to do it. Even though you may have learned how to display behaviors that are unrelated to your Personal Style, your style always has an impact on your decision-making; it serves as a filter system through which all your learned behaviors must pass.
Our Personal Style greatly influences the many adjunct styles of behavior that you will develop during your lifetime. Personal Style is the foundation for your interpersonal or social style.
The totality of you as a person is called your personality—all the inputs, conditions, characteristics, and behaviors that combine to create your Personal Style, along with all the socially learned behaviors you have acquired.
To capture a more holistic perspective of how we perceive and interact with the world, CRG developed our propriety model: The Personality Factors Development Model.
The Uniqueness of You
Your personality is exclusive to you alone. No one else in the history of time has been or will be exactly as you are.
To turn out the same way you have, other people would have to live your life exactly as you have lived it. They would need to possess, from the moment of conception, the same genes that determined, among other things, the color of your eyes, the shape of your ears, and the texture of your hair. They would have to be brought up under exactly the same conditions you experienced in childhood, play all the games you played, suffer all the falls you took, and learn all the lessons you learned.
In fact, they would need to experience everything in precisely the same way you did to produce a person with your unique hopes, fears, desires, values, and characteristics. Even then, your gifts, talents, and abilities are genetically yours so there is little opportunity that any two individuals will ever be exactly the same.
As an example, during an episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation, Commander Riker was beamed up from the surface of a planet. Unknown to the crew, a mirror image of Commander Riker was reflected back to the surface. Up to that point, the two were identical individuals in every way.
For the next 5 years, however, the second Commander Riker survived under hostile conditions on the planet. When The Enterprise returned and discovered the second Commander Riker, it was clear that the men were no longer identical. Their experiences over the 5 years had shaped them differently, even though they were clones when the duplication occurred. That shows the uniqueness that the events in our lives add to each of us.
It’s extremely difficult to assess just how important any one factor has been in creating your personality. How much weight can be given to any single factor?
There’s no simple answer, and the presence of so many factors makes it all the more complex. That difficulty poses a further challenge because one of the factors that has exercised—and continues to exercise—a significant effect over your personality is your Personal Style. Consequently, to explain the special influence of your Personal Style, we need to distinguish it from the roles other key factors have played in your life.
Personality Factors Devlopment Model™
To acknowledge people’s diversity and provide a framework for development and understanding, we created the Personality Factors Development Model. We will focus the balance of this book on your Personal Style, one factor in the model.
This framework provides a road map for understanding the whole person.
You’ll notice the three factors in the top half of the chart are called internal factors; they affect your personality “from within” because they emanate directly from inside your body or mind. The factors in the bottom half are called external factors; they are more dependent on stimulation from phenomena “from outside” yourself.
The factors represent the different kinds of influences present to some extent in the lives of all human beings, regardless of gender, race, or culture. The strength of the influence coming from factors within each of the categories may vary for each individual, however.
For example, everyone’s life is strongly influenced by biophysical factors such as genetics, but not always in the same way or to the same extent. Even when two individuals do have the same disability, the condition does not affect their lives in exactly the same way.
We’ll look at each factor separately to examine the role played by the various factors within each category and how they influence personality development.
Personal Style Preferences
Personal Style defines naturally occurring preferences people have for engaging with whatever they find in their environment—their unique ways of reacting consistently to their surroundings. Their preferences are reflected in their various needs, wants, and values.
The origin of these preferences is unclear, but recent scientific research is offering some clues. Based on conclusions drawn from studies of the functions of various parts of the brain, Personal Styles may be closely related to different types of information-processing within the brain. Personal Style—or temperament, as some people like to call it—is observable very early after birth, suggesting that our preferences are genetically based.
If indeed Personal Style is natural, then it likely is strongly related to biochemical functioning in the brain. Understanding more about the brain’s biochemical development may reveal how Personal Styles are determined before birth. It should be noted, however, that the question of whether Personal Styles are inherited traits remains open; children often possess styles quite different from the styles of their parents and siblings can have opposite styles.
Some research attempts to link Personal Style to birth order, but that cannot easily account for certain discrepancies, such as why all first-born children don’t fit the same patterns.
We do know that children reveal a Personal Style that will remain unchanged throughout their lives; the style a person has at age 2 will be evident at age 80.
But let us be clear. We are stating that your Personal Style stays consistent throughout your lifetime; that is not necessarily true for your personality. Personality is the totality of who you are. Personal Style is just one part of you, but an important part, nevertheless.
We also know each individual tends to process information (think) in a distinct way. That means that although people see and hear the same information, they interpret the information differently. Those interpretations are called perceptions. Earlier in this book, they figured into the definition of Personal Style.
Those phenomena allow the personality to have both flexibility and stability throughout life.
Let’s suppose you attend your 10- or 20-year class reunion. You look around the room and see Harvey. He was the funniest guy in your class, not to mention the star player on the football team. But you hardly recognize him. He’s 30 pounds heavier, has lost most of his hair, and has grown a full beard. You also learn he has been married and divorced, has made a small fortune selling home-cleaning products, and is a gourmet chef. You just can’t believe how much Harvey has changed.
You go over and start talking with Harvey. Within 5 minutes, you realize there is something about him that hasn’t changed . . . his certain way of talking and being that makes you remember the two of you standing in the hallway 20 years ago. In spite of all the other changes, he’s the same old Harvey. The part that hasn’t changed is his Personal Style—all the Personal Style preferences within him.
You will get a chance to discover your Personal Style when completing the Personal Style Indicator Assessment included with this book.
You and I could have similar Personal Styles but our biophysical influences could be quite different, causing each of us to engage life differently. In this factor, we include any and all biological and physical influences on the personality and body that occur during a person’s lifetime. Even before we are born, factors such as our genetic inheritance from our parents are at work determining a host of physical characteristics, like our gender, height, and skin color. Also, any and all biochemical changes that occur within the body fall into the biophysical category.
Doctors and naturopaths focus most of their attention on the elements of the biophysical factor. Biophysics is the “window” through which they tend to look at personality and behavior. They have strong evidence that the mind-body connection is one of the strongest links to understanding human behavior.
Let’s say you are a healthy and vibrant person but you get the flu. How differently will you engage the environment? During that time period, friends call with an invitation to a party but you decline because you are not up to it; you choose to stay home. Once you recover from the flu, your personality goes back to normal.
Here’s a personal example. In 1988, I was moody and had severe emotional swings. One minute I was motivated and excited, the next I just had to go to bed and sleep. My doctor said I was manic depressive and put me on the antidepressant lithium. About a week into treatment, I was ready to crawl right out of my skin—I was irritable and feeling not at all well.
A friend said, “Ken, you don’t have a depression problem. It sounds more like a biophysical condition.” At my insistence, the doctor conducted a glucose tolerance test (GTT). He discovered I had extreme hypoglycemia, a blood sugar condition; when you consume sugar, your pancreas does not make insulin in the correct proportion, which causes all kinds of complications. During that medical condition, my personality was significantly different…because of a biochemical state that had nothing to do with depression.
That is a simple illustration of how something can affect our biosystem and have a big impact on our life. A more serious illustration of the way biophysical influences impact personality is found in the area of addictions. It is quite obvious that heavy, repeated alcohol and/or drug use can be very detrimental to personality and behavior, as well as to personal relationships and overall health.
Many other elements under the Biophysical Influences influence personality and behavior.
Another element that comes into play is lack of sleep. Many research projects have confirmed that the developed world’s work population is operating on sleep deprivation. Self-awareness of personality and other factors becomes a moot point if you can’t concentrate or you are irritable because your body is not getting the sleep it needs.
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Does it really matter if your sense of personal value is high or low?
The answer is Yes, absolutely!
Self-worth is a basic human need, essential to normal, healthy development. High self-worth helps provide flexibility, strength, and a capacity to regenerate.
It relates to increased levels of mental health, life success, and happiness.
Research has shown that individuals with lower self-worth have a diminished ability to contribute than those with higher self-worth. Low self-worth undermines all areas of human interaction and diminishes resilience in the face of life’s problems. Low self-worth can stunt psychological and emotional growth.
Our level of self-worth is an extremely powerful factor in personality development and behavior. Self-worth represents the various ways our feelings of importance as individuals can play a role in determining aspects of our personality. Our sense of security is linked directly to our level of self-worth.
So again, you and I could have a similar Personal Style but if one of us has high self-worth the other has low self-worth, we could respond differently to similar events.
But the majority of research overwhelmingly supports the opinion that there are strong overall benefits to our having high self-worth. Self-worth is not only a source of motivation and personal energy to engage life, it reveals areas of psychological vulnerability. Dr. Nathaniel Branden, author and researcher of Our Urgent Need for Self-Esteem, sums up our thoughts in his quote.
Self-worth provides the experience of being able to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness. It consists of two components.
Let’s look at each segment separately.
Most of the research suggests our self-worth is in constant flux, changing in response to the many dynamics that present themselves in our lives. We never achieve high self-worth permanently; we are always actively re-establishing it during our entire lifetime. We see a fluctuation of self-worth in individuals who are laid off or fired from long-term positions or when personal relationships fail. In numerous cases, seemingly high-self-worth individuals can fall apart.
It is possible to reduce the impact various events could have on an individual’s self-worth levels, if the person understands the situation and has specific approaches for maintaining and increasing self-worth levels.
As self-worth goes up, so does our sense of trust that somehow we can cope with the environment. When it decreases, we lose confidence that we can be successful in our environment. For instance, a person with a high level of self-worth may overcome a negative environment and become successful, while a person with a lower level of self-worth may fail within positive surroundings.
Note that self-worth is learned; it does not exist at birth. It is a product of nurture, not nature. It develops in us during very early childhood. It is also strongly affected during adolescence and adulthood as people and events react to our personalities and behavior.
To some extent, self-worth is developed by factors in all the other categories. It is especially influenced by factors within the Social Teacher category. We come to behave toward ourselves in much the same manner that significant others have behaved toward us. For instance, if parents are persistently critical of small failings or imperfections in their children, when the children become adults, they may have difficulty appreciating the skills and the attributes that they do possess, but were taken for granted or undervalued by their parents.
If the reactions of significant others are positive toward who we are and what we do, our self-worth levels begin to increase and strengthen. If their reactions are negative, we become weaker and our sense of value as a person decreases. The process of self-evaluation occurs within the mind of each individual throughout his or her lifetime. While the foundation for it is pretty well established by the time we are 7 years old, self-worth development is influenced by many other critical factors as we grow up.
The important point to remember is that our self-worth levels are learned and whatever has been learned can be unlearned. The key is to understand how self-worth is structured within the personality and what can be done to shift it from the negative toward the positive. Personal Style theory can be a major advantage in the process.
This category includes any form of experiential stimulus we receive from the environment around us—a stimulus that does not belong specifically in any of the other categories. That includes all the general influences we experience in our lives as result of being members of certain social, cultural, and ethnic groups.
It also refers to any form of environmental stimulus, other than the influence of people who have functioned in some way as significant role models for us. For instance, while a person’s whole family unit would be included here, the role played by a specific relative would belong in the Social Teacher category.
We know that in addition to Social Teachers, we are strongly influenced by the Environmental Systems that surround us as we grow up. The first such system is our family of origin—the family unit in which you were raised from birth to young adulthood. If I were examining the Social Teacher category, I would be especially interested in how Mom and Dad treated me. In looking into the Environmental Systems category, I am more interested in how my personality was affected by my exposure to, as well as my observations of, the interactions of my family.
Children are often the family’s audience. Much of our childhood time is spent watching what is occurring within the family unit rather than actively participating in it. Within that category, we are interested in information such as how Mom and Dad communicated, problem-solved, argued, made up after an argument, showed affection, discussed sexual issues, and took vacations.
With divorce rates now over 50%, many kids have an unstable environment; the environmental condition highly affects children’s perspectives of life.
Also important are other interactions within the family, such as how an older brother got along with Mom, a younger sister with Grandpa, or Dad with his in-laws. All those kinds of everyday family interactions created an environment that shaped our perceptions of, and attitudes toward, family life and—more important—life in general.
Other Environmental Systems would include schools you have attended, towns or cities where you have lived, the countryside where you grew up, the society and cultures that influenced you, military service, and associations and organizations to which you belonged.
Even climate conditions and acts of nature can have an impact on the way you look at life. Climate can affect you and your responses. It is well known in long-night northern winters that many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). They need exposure to sunlight for a certain length of time each day or they start to feel lethargic, moody, and depressed.
What about growing up in a war-torn area or a place of high conflict? That certainly will affect your perceptions and responses and shape your thinking, compared to growing up in a peaceful area. Every day, there are, on average, 50 different armed conflicts going on in the world. Those who survive the experience are usually strongly affected by the violence and horrible social conditions they see. Often, their personalities and behavior reveal major shifts as a result of exposure to war, evident in many of the soldiers who served active duty in the various wars.
The following factors are examples of Environmental Systems.
As part of the Entrepreneurial Style and Success Indicator, there is an assessment that measures your background and environment and the way they influence your success as an entrepreneur. With research conducted on 4000 successful entrepreneurs, we identified 28 key environmental factors and attitudes that impact entrepreneurial success. To learn more about the Entrepreneurial Style and Success Indicator, go to www.crgleader.com
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