I had the recent good fortune of doing a personality profile test as a team building exercise at work. I have to admit that I love these kind of things. I'm sure it's not a perfect science or anything, but who isn't at least a little interested in finding out some more about themselves? And I'm sorry, these things can be eerily accurate, like someone's been listening in on your thoughts, and taking damn good notes in the process. Cue the Twilight Zone music. Really. It was weird and fun and very revealing.
The purpose of this exercise is to help us understand the places we naturally go to in terms of interaction, communication, dealing with stress, problem solving and expression, among other things. And more importantly, it's designed to help us understand that others have their own natural places that they go to, and as such, there might be a different way to deal with different people in the same situation. One person's way of coping isn't necessarily their co-worker's way of coping. Not a big surprise, but when looked at as a group, it's a very enlightening, helpful and at the end of the day, great team building exercise. At least I found it so.
Now this isn't about personality tests per se, but rather the idea about how a given personality can deal with the same experience differently. Or more importantly, one personality might deal with certain parts of that same experience really well, while another personality, not so much. Like with diabetes. Take for example, the need to document blood sugar results. I'm most certainly not an engineering type so the tedious details, the charting, the minutea of this disease absolutely drives me up the wall. I feel burdened and boxed in by it. I hate it the most of all the parts of dealing with this disease, hands down. But someone else who's personality is suited for that kind of thing, might find solice or a feeling of power in doing the tracking and watching the details. They might actually like it. Which raises a important question for me about personality + diabetes. How does one personality type deal with the same disease state vs. another? Do our doctor's even think about this when they roll out the "how to do diabetes" tutorial, hand us those carb counting charts and send us on our way? It feels like there's basically one protocol for approaching the management of this disease and it seems like it's pretty much one size fits all to me. Obviously there is stuff that has to be done to manage this disease, but that doesn't mean that the protocol couldn't be designed in a way that frames it more organically and in sync with different personality types. No charts and graphs for my type, but maybe more of a goal oriented, milestone strategy for me. For someone more meticulous, it's a formating and pattern recognition exercise. Same goal (testing and overall better control), different framing and systems to get there. A protocol approach that aligns with a person's"natural" tendencies or personal style. Wouldn't that be amazing?
Now, I'm not talking about doing this just because it'd be nice. I'm talking about this approach to diabetes management protocol because it sets each individual up for better success. Tailoring the individual approach to diabetes to insure a higher likelihood for initial compliance and long term health. That seems smart to me. I'm struck with the fact that so much of figuring this stuff out is up to us, which is random at best. It's hard to develop a good strategy from inside your own experience and head. I happen to work at a place that realizes the need and merits of insight into personality because it translates into higher productivity and effectiveness of a team. And they don't expect us to sit around figuring it out for ourselves on top of doing our jobs. This idea makes even more sense to me when we're talking about our health. Higher productivity (compliance) and more effectiveness (better control) means better results overall. Better diabetes results. That's the goal, right?
So I'm sitting here imagining that a newly diagnosed person might go to their doctor one day, to get their blood tests, their A1C, their new diet plan and a personality test. "OK, so you're this type of a person, madam, so here's how to approach your diabetes care", framed up in a way that makes the most sense to her. Imagine how cool that would be. Imagine what a difference that could make. Imagine.