To know oneself is to know your color and pig

More than 20 years ago, I recall sitting across from our church pastor with my soon-to-be wife, answering questions about our likes and dislikes.

At the time, I wondered whether the information being garnered would ever have real meaning. After all, we were a couple of crazy young people, head over heels in love and details about which one of us required the bed to be made each morning was furthest from our minds.

Flash forward a couple of decades and I just completed a personality survey at my office, which was to remind us about the various people types we encounter in co-workers and customers and how we shouldn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach when working with them.

Although it wasn’t an in-depth analysis, I identified as a “blue” personality type, meaning, “I have a strong desire to influence others, so they might lead more significant lives.” I expect others to express views; I assume a family spirit and I’m people-oriented. I was imaginative as a child and I sought recognition. I respond better to encouragement, rather than competition and I have an artistic side.

Spot. On.

Then, our facilitator asked us to meet in our self-identified color groups and she posed questions for us to consider.

“If you had towels in the dryer and they were finished, what would you do?”

My group said we would pile them into a basket, take them to a room closest to the bathroom or closet, fold them and put them away.

It was a pretty simple task in our way of thinking.

But then, the “gold” group replied.

“We would immediately remove them from the dryer and fold them a certain way. Then, we would face them according to color and in a certain direction.”

In that moment, I was reminded of my wife and why she chooses to fold the towels and put them away at our house.

To be honest, I haven’t folded a towel the same way twice, unless by accident. That’s because my blueness identifies the issue as being, “the towel is dry and needs to be put away.” It goes nowhere beyond that.

My wife, on the other hand, believes that someone might visit our house one day and suddenly feel the urge to peruse the towel closet. And, if those towels are not faced and stacked in alternating colors, she would surely be emotionally scarred for life.

That’s because, as a gold personality, her strengths are order, loyalty and she “assumes a right way for doing things.” She maintains organization, believes that work comes before play and has a detailed and thorough approach to tasks.

Basically, she is exactly opposite of me, which wasn’t a surprise after nearly 24 years of marriage.

Later, as part of the survey, we were provided a blank sheet of paper where we drew pictures of pigs. Mine was drawn in the middle of the page with a big head facing forward, moderate amounts of detail and a body. I didn’t include legs or a tail because frankly, I ran out of room on the piece of paper.

However, according to psychology, I’m a realist; I neither fear nor avoid discussion and I’m somewhere in between analytical and a risk taker. Since my pig didn’t have legs or a tail, I’m clearly not stuck in my beliefs. And, my pig had small ears, which my wife would argue as accurate, since it meant I wasn’t a very good listener.

Come to think of it, maybe that explains why I still don’t follow protocol for folding towels.

Before that moment, I never would have guessed that my pig art could tell me so much about myself. And, to think, some of the others in the training just assumed I wasn’t very good at drawing a pig.

Ken, who actually identified strongly as an orange personality, also, meaning he has tendencies for being a rebel – active, optimistic and impulsive, which might further explain why he’s never been bound by order or thoroughness, like his wife, can be reached at Ken.Knepper@gmail.com.