Letting the Tests Tell You Who You Are

Written by Scott Schimmel

I’ve done them all, haven’t you? I’ve taken almost every personality, aptitude, and talent assessment out there. I know my four-lettered personality type, I know my number, I know what color I am, I know what I’m supposed to do when I grow up, I know what kind of animal I am, I even know the kind of person I should get married to. 

I’ve done DISC, MBTI, StrengthsFinder 2.0, the Enneagram, the ones that test my aptitudes, and the ones that test my strengths. I have long reports, likely over one hundred pages of data, about the uniqueness of me

I also have old report cards. I still have the original copy of my college application essays. I’ve kept a bunch of old performance reviews. In a drawer somewhere I think I have my diploma with a major and two minors and if I spent $20 I could probably get a copy of my college transcripts that show all the grades and GPA I had in college. I also have an outdated resume, and I’ve got a pretty long LinkedIn profile. 

If you want to get to know who I am, there’s a robust paper trail to follow. 

In spite of all this...how come all that data still doesn’t tell the whole story?

I have a really good friend who knows me like a brother. Several years ago we both took the Meyers Briggs and StrengthsFinder 2.0 tests at the same time. Against all statistical odds and calculations, our results were the same. Exactly the same. On paper, we’re about as statistically similar as you can get. We have a lot in common, we have similar interests, we share the same values and worldview - heck, we even look kind of alike. We both love cereal, care a lot about global poverty, love learning about leadership, we even married similar women. But if you really knew us, you’d know how incredibly different we really are from each other. 

I really like business and finance (studied it in college), but when I chose my career path, I took a right turn and went into people development work. My friend majored in the same thing in college, and went into accounting. He now runs his own wealth management firm. He really cares about people development, but not as much as me or enough to stake his career on it. He loves the Seattle Seahawks. I love it when the Seahawks lose. 

We’re different. We have different stories. We hear different things in conversations. We spend our time, and our money, and our attention differently. We record different shows on TV. Read different books. Dream different dreams. 

If you tried to figure us out by what the tests say and by what our diplomas say, or by how we look and sound, you’d definitely get us confused. But that’s because there’s more to our stories. 

There’s always more to the story. People are much more complex than what a test says. Think about yourself. You have so many more layers and intricacy than meets the eye. There are things you care about and things you love. There are things that piss you off, and things that inspire you. There are things you’re good at, maybe even great at, and things that you're terrible at. You get a certain way when you’re hungry, and a certain way when you’re anxious. You are unique. 

You have a unique story, of which your strengths, aptitudes, personality type are just a part. They can never tell the whole story. Your life has already told a story to this point, and it’s going to tell one as you go forward. Maybe you’ve found yourself letting tests tell you who you are, or other people, or mindlessly gone down the track that you’re supposed to go down because that’s what people do who are like you. If you have, and something doesn’t feel right about it...

Maybe it’s a good time to take a step back and reflect on the bigger story of you.