“I don’t read” are the 3 words that now make me cringe! It has only been since 2007 that this has happened to me. Do I know how to read? Of course! I actually love to proof read every article I read for mistakes. Yet “I don’t like to read” was actually my reading style before I realized reading was necessary for me to grow and develop communities of people in a business that is changing a nation. Let’s say, I picked out the book, Single Men Are Like Waffles & Single Women Are Like Spaghetti for a Sunday School semester. ( http://farrelcommunications.com/product.html ) The book has 10 chapters. This was my practice. I would read the chapter, develop my lesson plan, create my hand outs, and study that chapter during the week along with my outline. Never did I ever read the book cover to cover first. I robbed myself of what the entire essence of the book truly was & it was repetitive!
I did the same thing with “You Don’t Need a Title To Be A Leader” –Mark Sanborn (http://twurl.nl/2ag5o1 ). So…if a book had 13 chapters….it took me 13 weeks to finish it. I taught in a small group ministry as well. While I had more than one book going at a time, my style was the same. I was a project!
Then I picked out the book, Walking With God On A Road You Never Wanted To Travel–Mark Atteberry (http://www.bookschristian.com/profile/mark-atteberry) . What did I do with this one? I ordered 13 books, took the leaders I was training in the singles ministry out to lunch and let them pick the chapter they wanted to teach. Catch my drift? Books were never my thing, but I took a “jab” at them. I did commit to reading. There was a particular book that was coming down as our book of the month. I had heard there was a seminar in a nearby town that would be discussing this book so….I took yet another one of my leaders to a Saturday seminar. Actually…I did this in an attempt to get what I needed without having to read the book. Now…you know how really bad I was with reading!
What happened that day changed my life, well…maybe not so drastic, but it did change my attitude in a necessary way. Why? The book was Personality Plus–Florence Littauer– ( http://twurl.nl/zh2gcl ). I had heard of this book because a co-worker had “diagnosed” my personality type while on a business trip to San Antonio, TX. I was clueless! Janet, one of my closest friends, had read this book 20 yrs. ago. She spouted off terms that I couldn’t understand. What did that have to do with everyday life? Fast forward….it has everything to do with it.
Here’s just some background about me. I never knew the terms for personalities, but I could discern the difference within a few seconds of meeting someone. If you were fun, uplifting, could make me laugh–you were my bud for life. If you could bore me to tears with details about the 13th century reasons for the way people bathe??? Please….spare me. Here’s the two that were a challenge to me. I will break them into gender specific categories because it mattered at the time. Let’s say you were a guy who could care less about what people thought, but just wanted things done your way. You got my undivided attention. Why? I was determined to find your weakness within seconds and “one up you!” You brought out my sarcasm & wit. In no uncertain terms you would soon acknowledge that you could not intimidate me. Au contraire! I often found these men would later appreciate me & respected me immensely. If you were a woman with this personality, I respected you & chances are we would be friends.
This leaves but one personality type left. This is the painful one. It was painful for you if you were the male version of this personality. It was painful to me because it affected me physically. I often state that I am transparent, so here goes! Suppose you were a guy who joked around, was a people person, but never decided, let’s say, what we could do on a group outing. Even further back, you were undisciplined in appearances (overweight) let your friends, family take advantage of you, never put your two cents in during a group discussion, or complained a lot yet were unwilling to enforce necessary changes. You would have been the object of my greatest sport. Why? Why did I let this affect me so? Seriously, within seconds I could sniff this personality & I took extreme pleasure in making you feel like you were scum on the bottom of the lake or that description of how Julia Roberts felt at the end of the movie, My Best Friend’s Wedding! You exhibited weakness in my eyes and this immediately caused me to be angry inside. I could feel it well up inside of me. How? I am a people person personified. I can make friends with the people everyone hates. If you are the grumpiest old man on the planet, I would be in love with you within a day and you would be thinking of conversations we could have. I was the nurse they assigned the “worst” patient to when everyone else refused to take care of them. By the end of my shift I knew their life history, acknowledged they had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen, and wanted them again as my patient the next day if I were on that particular unit. For 13 years this was the pattern. I knew the look in the charge nurses face prior to when she would apologize for doing this to me.
So….why did guys who refused to decide if we were having pizza or burgers infuriate me? If you were a female of this particular type personality…..I probably liked you, but didn’t respect you near as much. You were probably sweet, had great hair, loved your shoes, but….I never thought to ask you for an opinion. You probably couldn’t give me one!
Angry at a personality type? Yes, I will admit they made me mad. I could befriend them, they would respect me, but would feel intimidated. I looked to men as the provider for the family, priest of the home, and to be revered with honor & respect. When they didn’t meet this criterion, it infuriated me. Now you probably will want to analyze my childhood. My dad was my hero. He never took a step that I wasn’t literally in his shadow. He never met a stranger, spoiled me rotten, and everyone loved him. I learned to drive a tractor, harvest corn, tomatoes, peas, potatoes, even how to put out cow manure just because that is what he did. I loved him beyond words.
Fast forward to workshop on personalities. The gal that came with me was a great person. She literally drove me crazy on a daily basis. Let’s say, we were meeting for a singles event. She would email me and want exact, turn-by-turn directions, every detail had to be explicit & she couldn’t talk in front of people. I, on the other hand, drove her crazy on a daily basis. I was determined, goal oriented, purpose driven, snap-snap on projects. I could talk to hundreds, organize groups from several counties and have a blast doing it.
Well…..by the end of the workshop her and I knew why we rubbed each other the wrong way. I tested Choleric/Sanguine. She tested Melancholy with a tiny smidgen of Phlegmatic.
During the workshop I understood how people could be cross-blends, natural blends, and then completely change to the opposite with life challenges. All my life I was a Melancholy / Phlegmatic. I was a detailed perfectionist, but would wait till the last split second to accomplish anything. When the project was over, because I was a detailed perfectionist, I would ace the project. Then I would swear not to wait till the last second again and again and again, and…..yeah…I procrastinated forever. After my divorce the roles completed switched.
Sunday school was quite interesting that following day. I brought hand-outs from the workshop, diagnosed everyone and listened as the entire class diagnosed me. Then….the most incredible thing happened. I chose, as an act of my will, to humble myself as a leader. I looked in the eyes of every Phlegmatic man in my class and apologized to them. I told them I was sorry for being so hard on them, and asked their deepest forgiveness. It was quite solemn. From that moment I changed. I read the entire book & began acting on what the book suggested. Instead of finding your weaknesses, I could then find your strengths. I got better at being angry toward indecisiveness, and learned how to empower people to embrace making decisions. I stopped being right all the time…(still working on this one) Not being a control freak is the toughest. I can use the excuse of being a Virgo right? Well, not really….I don’t personally support using “signs” as an excuse for not being my personal best.
Reading helped me overcome being angry, judgmental, disrespectful, and sometimes just downright mean. You may ask what in the world does any of this have to do with being a leader, building a biz, developing communities of leaders, etc.? Everything! It has everything to do with it. I am in a people-people, face-face, household-household, industry. If I can diagnose your insecurities instead of your weaknesses and devote myself to help you overcome them…..it is everything. I can now point you to some amazing personal development books that will help you feel stronger about yourself.
I challenge you to read some of the books I listed above. The book by Mark Atteberry taught 13 of my leaders & and a singles department how to accept the trials people may be going through and how to minister to them along the way. The book by Mark Sanborn helped every one of us realize we are all leaders in some capacity regardless of having a title or not. The Farrel’s book enabled us to communicate with the opposite sex on levels we never thought possible. When we seek first to understand, not just to be understood…..lives change. Usually it is ours!
Reading is fundamental and in my case, it did my body good. I stop letting anger temper me and I now allow acceptance, approval, and appreciation of who people are dominate my purpose in life. I am not the person I used to be simply because I chose to let another emotion take precedence in my life…HUMILITY!
The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them–Mark Twain