Part 1: The Truth About Me: Discovering my Personality Type
I enjoyed taking the free Jung Typology Test to discover my Myers-Briggs personality type. The test was fast and easy. The questions were short and sweet. I loved reading the description relating to my personality profile and found it amazingly accurate. I was curious if the result would be the same if I took the test another time. I waited four days and took it again. As I answered the questions, I thought I might have changed my answer on some of them. I was sure it would have a different result. Nope! It came out exactly the same! Impressive. Especially since, according to the description, only 15-20% of the population falls into the same category that I do.
I learned that my type is ENFJ: Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. This combination of types is called a Teacher and is categorized as an Idealist. I can say that I knew this about myself. If I had been asked to describe myself in four words prior to taking the test, I might have said “I am outgoing, insightful, emotional, and accepting.” Out of all the categories, I think Idealist describes me best.
It’s All About Love and Hate
Once I discovered my personality type, I thought about my past work experiences. I have always loved helping people. I loved leading retreats in high school and as a young adult. I have always been good at leading group discussions. I have always enjoyed working in general. I like the sense of accomplishment and of making a difference.
Some of the jobs that I have had over the years never felt like “work” to me. After high school I worked in retail sales. That was fun! I liked meeting and helping nice people and I loved making displays and decorating the store window. After I got married I did data entry at a manufacturing firm in the Contracts Department. I enjoyed my job there quite a bit – I liked working with the Sales Department, following the orders from sales to shipping, typing and manipulating data, making reports, and transferring information. I found it to be easy and I felt important.
It was during that time that I began volunteering. I worked with Youth Ministry and taught Confirmation classes at my church. One of the things I enjoyed was creating newsletters that went out to the kids and parents. Eventually I did this at other jobs and as technology improved I began to email newsletters and create websites. I love the creativity and the technical ability I use in making web sites and newsletters. It makes me happy that others will read it to get information and be entertained. I especially loved working with teenagers and young people. I enjoyed high school myself and I like to be connected with high school age kids. They remind me of the best times in my life and give me energy.
Something else I got into during my volunteer work at St. John Eudes church and school was planning events – my most favorite thing! I absolutely love hosting parties, planning trips, coordinating meetings, planning group outings, reunions, conferences, training, anything! I became very good at this when I was an executive assistant at a regional bank office. It was part of my job to plan events of all kinds. That part of my job never felt like work!
I realized that I felt energized when I was organizing meetings and events, coordinating big events and fundraisers. I love engaging others and team building. I find coordinating annual events the most fulfilling because I have been blessed with volunteers who come back year after year. They tell me, “Melissa, if you are in charge, I will help out.” That makes me feel so good!
Some of my absolutely favorite jobs have been in a professional environment. I loved working in Downtown Los Angeles in a high rise office building! I also loved working onWestwood Blvd.in a retail store. I love cities. I love being around people. I love the feeling of motion and excitement. I love dressing up in power suits and business dress attire. I love meeting new people and greeting guests. I loved helping the managers and district managers and doing projects for the executives when I worked in banking. I loved the little things about working downtown like riding the commuter train or a public bus to work. I was always thrilled while passing well known or historical landmarks on my way into the city. I was grateful seeing the diverse cultures that live inL.A.and the feeling of being part of something big. I liked going to restaurants and trying the unique foods. It was an amazing experience to “feel the pulse of the city.” It felt natural and comfortable to me. I was in my element. It was a little scary at first for a Valley Girl like me! But it empowered me and gave me an incredible sense of purpose.
Thinking back, I remember some not so great experiences. I hated working the cash register at Giuliano’s Delicatessen, my very first job. Even though I was introduced to some amazing Italian food that I love to this day, I really hated working there and wearing that goofy floral print dress with the poofy sleeves and apron!. I do wish that place was still around though. My mouth waters just thinking about the cheese stuffed spinach tortellini! Mmmm!
I hated working in an office with no windows doing meaningless busy work like when I worked for my Dad the summer between junior and senior year of high school. I hated working in the document control room, where I filled orders to make copies of blue prints, drawings, and other documents.
Some jobs I have hated had some advantages or perks that made it worth it. I hated working in the phone room as a recruiter and doing surveys by phone for a marketing research firm while I was in college. However, I have a lot of great memories of working there in my college years, and I had many valuable experiences. I made lifelong friends at that job. I especially liked being the phone room supervisor.
I hated working the cash register at Bruce’s Deli, but I loved doing the accounting and managing the store. I had a lot of responsibility there. I loved attending and hosting Chamber of Commerce mixers and doing catering jobs for film sets.
I liked being a contract clerk in the sales department at my Dad’s company when I went back after I got married. I had a wonderful boss who was into team leading. He once told me that he thought I should consider law school. He thought I would be good at mitigation. He is the first person who gave me the confidence to have a high goal like that. I hated when I first became an administrative assistant to a regional bank manager because there was so much drama with him, but I loved the work that I did. I loved doing awards events for the managers. That was fun!
I loved being the administrative assistant for a senior vice president in business banking because he trusted me to go to the many offices and attend meetings at the different locations where I supported the regional managers that reported to him. I loved coordinating outings and events for them. That boss was instrumental in my biggest career advancement to date. When he left to work at another bank, he opened the door for me to work at the executive office there. He always looked out for me.
I hate the pressure of working for other people unless they appreciate the value I bring to making their job easier. I am always happy to do things for others. Either for their enjoyment or to make things better for them.
Sometimes work makes me sick! The worst was being the middle manager at a retail store – being the one who does all the work, has all the responsibility, but makes no decisions and gets no credit. I hated that! I used to bust my butt working late into the night to make the store look perfect, balance my cash registers, make my deposits, create quotas and schedule employees, and the manager would walk in looking pretty carrying a big cup of coffee and get all the credit. I felt the same way when I was a phone room supervisor. I used to get sick to my stomach in the elevator on the way to my office. I despised the treatment I got there. Being bossed, not managed, and pressured by the project manager to get the work done on time and within budget. I couldn’t stomach having to be responsible for getting the work done by my employees and not getting any appreciation for it. I didn’t fare well having to be the middle person between the workers and the bosses. I liked being the assistant to the boss – the “right hand.” I would prefer that to being the boss or being “bossed.” One thing that I learned over the years is there is a big difference between being the boss and being a manager.
Honestly, it was a relief when they demoted me from that position and I quit. That was the only time I ever had that experience. Most times I changed jobs it was because of another opportunity that came along. There are some jobs I didn’t mind leaving, but I left because I wanted a change, either more money or better conditions.
I was sad leaving my executive assistant position at the bank. Sometimes I regret it. I completely loved that job and I miss it. There was a great deal of responsibility. I was managed to my strengths and valued as a person. I loved the things that I did well. I have always been a quick learner and I was grateful for the opportunity to train in the various areas of banking even though banking wasn’t my thing. I enjoyed the “go-to person” being knowledgeable while continuing to learn and increasing my value and expertise. Being a point person enabled me to help the managers and bankers, the other employees and the customers. I loved the sense of accomplishment I felt and I loved being appreciated. My boss took the time to get to know me and enjoyed knowing me. I always knew that he liked me and trusted me. It was very important to him that he could trust me. He was a good judge of character and an honorable man. I would get there early and stay late so I could get everything done and because I enjoyed being there so much. I think my boss reminded me of my Dad. He was so kind and thoughtful. He went out of his way to make sure I felt important and appreciated. If he had a success, or got a bonus, he shared it with me in some way. He was cognizant of how my input made things easier for him.
I never liked working in food service or in production. I don’t like doing the same thing all the time, over and over. I don’t like feeling subservient. I like serving others, but I don’t want to feel “less than”. Sales for commission always disturbed me. I don’t want to make a sale that charges someone more money so I can make my living. I don’t want to take advantage of others or scam them in any way.
Now I work at my son’s middle school as the administrative assistant to the principal. Working at a school has its advantages. This happens to be the school I attended myself. It is a Catholic school. I love that what we are producing is an education for children and helping them to shape their future. I love that our customers are the students, their parents and families. I love working with educated people who are passionate about teaching. I love working in a Catholic environment where spirituality is expected and valued. I love the feeling of sharing my experiences that I have had with my kids and helping other parents and their kids. Once in awhile I get the satisfaction of doing some little thing that makes me so very happy and feeds my soul.
One example of this is the time that I taught a student how to fold the American flag and explained why it is important to treat the flag with respect. He was trying to help with the daily task of taking the flag down from the flag pole. He obviously had never done it before and didn’t get the usual training from Student Council. I saw him carrying the flag in a bunch and part of it about to be dragged along the floor of my office. I stopped him and he thought he was getting in trouble. I said, “Please let me show you how to do that. There is a special way to fold the flag. Do you know why?” As we folded the flag together I told him that as Americans it is our duty to honor the flag. Soldiers are taught to treat the flag as if it is a living thing. It represents all the souls who have died for our country. I explained that we never let it touch the ground and that it is folded into a triangle with the stars showing when complete.
That was a good day. The student seemed happy enough to get some attention and learn something new. I had no idea how much he had taken it to heart until that same boy came back a few months later and asked me to help him show someone else the right way to do it. What an amazing honor! I was truly touched. That boy will always remember me for taking the time to teach him that. He has demonstrated a new found respect for something patriotic, symbolic and lasting. I made a difference in his life because I took the time to show him and share why it is important. Once in awhile I get to make an impact in this way.
The highly unusual and unexpected ways that I am able to help someone are the most rewarding. The most fulfilling is passing forward a kindness. Kids are amazed if I give them a few coins when they ask for change and say they don’t need to pay me back. Or when I give them a book and ask for nothing in return. It makes me happiest when I can help a family. A simple gesture like a hug or a smile means so much to a mother when her child has been injured at school. All I ever say when someone asks how they can repay me is, “Just pay it forward. Help someone else someday.”
It’s Not the End of The World – It’s Just Politics!
I hate office politics. “Why can’t we all just get along?” is a phrase that I use much too often. I enjoy working for and with others. But I like to be left alone to do my work. I need some outward signs of appreciation to know that I am valued, but I like very little direction. I need attention, especially when I am given a project to do and when it is completed, but the rest of the time I need to be trusted. If I ask, “Can help you with that?” it is because I want to help you, I want to be helpful.
I wrote in another post that if I could do anything I wanted without risk and without repercussions, I would not work. I know that I would need to stay busy and I would want to do some kind of work. I like to work on projects. I enjoy doing projects or things that will have an end. I need to have that sense of accomplishment. When I have taken long periods of time off work or when I have taken stay at home vacations I have repainted the living room, re-decorated the bedrooms, made Christmas presents by hand, cleaned closets, and had garage sales. In fact, when I was a stay at home parent with my three kids, I soldAvon!
I have never had the experience of getting paid more money than I thought my work was worth. I have never had the experience of getting paid for doing work that I would do for free. I have worked for free and loved it. I have also done work for free and hated it. Someday, I hope to be able to say, “Wow, this is great! I am doing exactly what I love, and they pay me, too!”
I see how a lot of this has to do with my personality type. Why have I made the choices I have made? Why do I like what I like? What makes me truly happy? I learned a long time ago that doing what you are passionate about is the best thing. But I also know that loving what you have is important. In this economy, I am grateful for the job I have and the opportunities it brings for my children and my family. It may not be the perfect job for me, but I know I can do it well and I can make the best of it. That is confirmed by knowing my personality type! After all, I am a teacher!
I enjoyed thinking about my journey through the different jobs I have had and all that I have experienced. It’s amazing to read the descriptions of my personality and evaluate the reasons I love what I love! It wasn’t all roses and sunsets, that is for sure! That is why I appreciate roses and sunsets all the more!
Read Part 2 of this post to learn more about my personality. (If you dare!)