Things that Matter: How your personality impacts your success
Personality: Definition 1. The combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character; emotional and mental traits and behaviours. Synonyms: character, nature, disposition, makeup, persona.
Definition 2: A celebrity – a well-known, famous person
“Joking around is part of my personality, just who I am.” (Novak Djokovic, World Number 1 Tennis hero)
“Hard conditions of life are indispensable to bringing out the best in human personality.” (Alexis Carrel)
“One thing about television, it brings out personality. People are able to watch me in action. They hear my voice and see my eyes. There’s nothing I can hide. That’s me. Television brings out your flaws, your weaknesses, your strengths, and your truths. The audience either likes you or it doesn’t.” (Donald Trump, controversial US Presidential campaigner)
Nearly 150 people took part in an amazing Breakfast Meeting Workshop on Wednesday at the Hilton Hotel, featuring the famous Dr. Joel Freeman, CEO and President of the Freeman Institute. The theme was “How your personality impacts your success”. And the speaker was both a brilliant personality and a celebrity personality!
Dr. Freeman is the quintessential motivational speaker – eloquent, passionate and convincing, with a rich brand of humour, a dramatic, moving style and a great depth of sensitivity and insight into the human condition. As Socrates might have said “Such men – with gifts of great oratory – can use their skills for good or can be dangerous demagogues!” But seriously, Dr. Freeman’s wide ranging talk kept the audience spell-bound for an hour and a half, and everyone on leaving simply said “Wow! That’s a lot to think about”.
Dr. Freeman has been coming to Barbados for some 20 years … he just loves the place. In fact, in his introduction he rattled off a list of the good things about Barbados that give it a unique “personality” (if I can use the key word personality in a different way) and one of our merits is the rarity of hurricanes. I explained the widely held local view that this is because God is a Barbadian (an assertion that justifies some intense theological debate!) And his generosity in giving this seminar is part of that love for Barbados, and was arranged between him and Reverend Patrick Tannis, for the benefit of the Preservation (Barbados) Foundation Trust and the Carnegie Library (the Public Library) restoration programme.
Dr. Freeman is an accomplished author and an internationally sought-after conference speaker, motivational speaker and consultant, mentor to pro athletes, and workshop facilitator; a professional counsellor, behavioural analyst, corporate trainer and success coach to executives. He is globally recognised as a specialist in helping organisations unlock the potential of their human capital. He is also a magazine publisher, photographer, award-winning film maker and philanthropist. And he has received many awards, citations and honours. One gift he shares with me is singing off-key, he says!
Dr. Freeman’s thesis is that understanding your own personality and recognising the many differences in personality types is essential to successful relationships of any kind, but especially in business. The key features of an individual’s personality are often defined in terms of: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion or introversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The extroversion, introversion spectrum is the feature which defines most people for other people, while the other traits and behaviours run a little deeper, and may reveal themselves only with increased acquaintance, intimacy or working together.
As medical students studying psychiatry, we all had to do the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or MMPI. I recall being at the outer limits for extroversion (excitability / enthusiasm) and for artistic bent! Everything else was boringly normal. Well, in Wednesday’s workshop, after a stimulating, exciting talk about personalities and what works in interpersonal relationships and what doesn’t, Dr. Freeman had everyone undertake a personality style exercise. With a chart of 48 personality traits, we were to circle all that we thought characterised us. They could be grouped into four types – Influencing personality (optimistic, persuasive, demonstrative, confident, sociable); Success (agreeable, supportive, deliberate, good listener), Dominant (strong-willed, dominating, competitive, aggressive, demanding) and Correctness (conscientious, meticulous, orderly, cautious). Once again I turned out to be the sociable, optimistic and persuasive one!
And the lesson to take away is that we need to recognise our own predominant personality style and, if possible, that of others, as it helps us to understand the differences we face and must deal with in every interaction – from marriage to business. My first and last quotations above illustrate the acceptance of the speaker’s personality, as unchanging: “love me or hate me, this is me”, says the speaker “I’m not going to change for your sake!” But Nobel laureate the brilliant French surgeon Alexis Carrel makes the point that we CAN change, with his statement that hardship, in particular, brings out the best in us. And that’s the principle on which brilliant speakers / counsellors such as Dr. Freeman can create change in individuals and organisations, and transform losers into winners – and small businesses into big businesses. We hope to see much more of Dr. Freeman in Barbados!
Bouquets: To four recognised young entrepreneurs from the Bank-on-me Initiative, who joined us at the Workshop: Anthony Davis, Jamar Odwin, Alimayu Young-Codrington and Tony Cutting of Palette. And to those who have pledged and donated to the Carnegie Public Library Restoration Fund, and those who’re thinking of doing so!
Postscript: The Barbados National Trust will be hosting a Special Open House at Tyrol Cot, Codrington, St. Michael, in celebration of National Heroes Day, as Tyrol Cot is the only house of a National Hero open to the Public ... the home for 63 years of National Hero the Right Excellent Sir Grantley Adams and Lady Adams. April 28, National Heroes Day, is the birthday of Sir Grantley. Open House, with many attractions, will run from 2:30 to 5:30 on National Heroes Day, next Thursday, April 28, and patrons will be able to see the recent restoration work, as the house has just been beautifully repainted, thanks to Berger Paints, for their ongoing support at Tyrol Cot.
(Professor Fraser is past Dean of Medical Sciences, UWI and Professor Emeritus of Medicine. Website: profhenryfraser.com)