Nature or Nurture – Are You The Boss of You? 1

images (5)Are we born who we are – or do we have the ability to change into someone else? Jerome Kagan, who has devoted his career to studying the emotional and cognitive development of children believes it’s a little of both. His research suggests that introversion – extraversion is only 40 to 50 percent heritable. “To ask whether it’s nature or nurture is like asking is a blizzard caused by temperature or humidity – it’s the intricate interaction between the two that makes us who we are”. After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s take on the 10,000 hour rule I don’t think we are naturally born to do anything. I think you can accomplish what ever you set out to do. You can rewire your brain. I believe you are the boss of you. You and you alone get to decide your fate in life. Only you and you alone get to decide where you end up.

Dr. Carl Schwartz, director of the Developmental Neuroimaging and Psychopathology Research Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, is convinced that we can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. “Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead. Part of who we are is ordained at birth by our genes, by our brains and nervous systems”. However, he also believes that because we have “free will” – the power to choose – we can use it to shape our personalities. Susan Cain – author of “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” refers to this as “the rubber band” theory of personality. Picture yourself as a rubber band at rest. Just like that rubber band you are elastic and can stretch yourself. You can rewire your brain. You are capable of developing different habits to get a different result.

Do you marvel at how some people have the ability to motivate others, inspire people to take action and influence the top decision makers and wished you could do the same? You can learn to do that as well. You can learn to be more patient, empathetic, flexible, open-minded or a good listener? You can learn how to communicate and interact more effectively with others? The question is – Are you willing to put in the time and effort to make the kinds of changes you’ll need to make to realize your full potential? One of the best ways to learn a new skill is to observe someone doing it the way you would like to do it and copy them. Think of someone you admire. What is it about the way they act that you identify with?  Do they remain calm in stressful situations? When they speak – do others listen? Are they really good at making new friends? Do they lead by example? When they walk into a room do others take notice? Are they compassionate towards those less fortunate? You and you alone get to decide your fate in life. Only you and you alone get to decide where you end up. Only you and you alone get to decide the kind of person you want to be. Think it, act it, become it …  You are the boss of you. 🙂

(C) Copyright 2013. Brian Smith-PLD. May not be reproduced without permission. Brian Smith works with people who want to learn how to communicate and interact more effectively; and who want to discover how to get the best out of themselves and others. He is available for speaking engagements, seminars and workshops. Visit http://briansmithpld.com to find out more.

Team Work Sucks! – In Defence of Introverts Everywhere 8

Gen Y 2I`ll try not to be too cynical here – but give me a break. Do teams really work? I know dolphins do it, whales do it, and even orcas, lions, and wolves do it too but, do we really accomplish more working in teams? I know teams and team work makes for a great sound bite. But in the real world – your world – does it really make that much of a difference? Research conducted by Susan Cain and published in her New York Times – best-selling book “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” paints a different picture. According to her research not everyone performs up to their full potential in a group setting. I know in a perfect world together everyone achieves more but after reading her book you may change your mind.

Worth Remembering … ” A strength over – used or used in the wrong situation, can become a weakness” – Unknown 

Generally speaking extroverts tend to be assertive, dominate, direct and decisive. They make quick decisions when others on the team cannot. They will confront tough issues or situations, accept change as a personal challenge and keep the team focused on the task at hand. Extroverts work well in a team environment as long as they are in a position to influence the direction the team is headed. They like to be in charge and lead the charge. They may come across to others as being unapproachable and insensitive to the needs of team members. (It’s their way or no way)  However, in a team environment their very vocal – in your face  – out-going and gregarious personality could stifle creativity. Listening to a difference of opinion is not their strong suit. They are comfortable with conflict.

On the other hand introverts – according to Carl Jung – are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling. They tend to listen more than they talk, think before they speak and work more slowly and deliberately – tackling one problem at a time. Other team members may see limitations because they act aloof , appear to be shy and prefer to work alone. They dislike conflict and would rather sit quietly in a corner – not offering an opinion for fear of making waves and getting noticed. They prefer to maintain status-quo and fly under the radar. They need a quiet space  to contemplate and reflect. They aren’t comfortable making quick decisions. They make decisions based on fact not emotion. The course of action taken must be logical and correct as they see it.

Worth Remembering …  “The task of an executive is not to change human beings. The task is to multiply performance capacity of the whole by putting to use whatever strength, whatever health, whatever aspiration there is in individuals” – Peter F. Drucker. 

The tide may be turning. Team work and working in teams may not be all it’s been cracked up to be. Recent studies suggest that the open office concept made popular in the late 90’s and early 20’s is reverting back to the cubicle. Studies conducted by the likes of Marvin Dunnette, Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister have shown that performance gets worse as group sizes increase. (Too many cooks spoil the broth) The “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups. If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is of the highest priority” says the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham.

Can extroverts and introverts work together on the same team and accomplish more? That will depend on the team leader – a team leader who understands the strengths of everyone on the team and gives everyone the opportunity to do what they do well. You can’t put a group of people together, call them a team and expect them to perform without teaching them what it means to be part of a team and how to be a good team player.

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith – May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission. briansmithpld@gmail.com