Part of living a better life in our pursuit of happiness is making a difference. Our purpose driven nature that has been placed in us, pushes us to make a difference in the world around us. Without making a difference we boringly find ourselves fulfilling the description by Henry Thoreau that we are living, “lives of quiet desperation”. A world full of people in our world of work and relationships in our social life means that our difference making is often people oriented. The question is how do we make a difference?
I just finished the book Making a Difference by Being Yourself , by Gregory Huszczo. He is a professor at Eastern Michigan University in their Business Management program as well as being a consultant and leadership coach. What drew me to the book is that he focuses on making a difference by first knowing our strengths. He encourages the reader to explore their personality type based on the Myers-Briggs assessment. Each of us have unique strengths that relate to our personalities and as we know ourselves better we can tap into these strengths to make a difference in our work and relationships.
The book also points out that we make a difference through our abilities which relate back to the personality strengths. If you are an extrovert you have that natural social ability to go the extra mile in helping others. Or you may be a high Sensing type that is great with details so you can help in guiding people to look at the steps they need to take in fulfilling their dreams. We improve in our making a difference the more we understand ourselves.
Also in making a difference we need to consider our motivations. That can affect how we come across in our interactions. If my motivation to serve is simply for what I can get out of you, people will see through it. For example once when I was a student in a Bible College in Chicago, I volunteered at a group home for troubled boys. It was a time of mentoring and I was working with a 12 year old. I remember the first meeting with the boy as he said “are you like the guys from Church X who are just trying to get us to go on their bus Sundays?” Especially young people can see through false motivations where they are just a statistic instead of a person to be cared for.
The author also mentions that we need to consider how the opportunities we have had in our lives can affect in how we make a difference. Some of those opportunities as I look at it may have been difficulties we have gone through. Difficulties and hardships strengthen us so we can be more empathetic to others going through hard times.
If you are interested in knowing your personality type better there are a couple things you can do. You can go to a local Counselor who can take you through the MBTI. Or there are a couple of helpful websites. The first I will mention is: www.personalitypathways.com/type_inventory.html This link takes you to a page where you can look at descriptors to estimate your type. Then you can read more about the type descriptions. Another helpful page is www.humanmetrics.com which in the top left hand of the webpage offers a free Jung Typology test, (the MBTI is based on the work of Dr. Jung). It takes about 10-15 minutes to do the test and then you can read a report where you can reflect on your unique strengths that come from your personality.
Back to making a difference. The book I mentioned is about looking at how you have made a difference in your work situations and how you can continue in new ways to make a difference. Don’t forget to look into your social relationships as well, understanding in making a difference, it is better to be a giver than a taker. By understanding yourself better you can better learn to find new ways to be a giver in social settings even outside of close friends. Again thinking back to my life at the Chicago Bible College, Moody Bible Institute, I had a fellow student who was complaining about how rude and unfriendly the workers were at the bank nearby and stores in Chicago. I had never had this problem. I always smiled at the bank tellers and thanked them for their help and always had a positive reply back. I then noticed this student in his interactions at stores and restaurants came across stern and matter of fact. So I thought to myself, was the problem the bank teller or store clerk or was it the customer with a stern look? Act friendly and most of the times you get friendly back.
Reflection: Write down a couple of sample events when you felt you made a difference in your workplace be as detailed as possible. Do the same for a couple of social settings either with friends or maybe an interaction at a store -- again being detailed as possible. If you took the time to do the personality type exercises do you see any of your strengths shining through the details of your making a difference? Write down one new way you could make a difference either in your work or social relationships.