Over the last three-to-four years I’ve gone through several and significant life changes that have developed my character both personally and professionally. This journey of change has been actuated by two major events:
While I won’t go into the details for why both ended, I believe they were ultimately the result of my approach and leadership style. These events resulted in a strategy to change myself, without completely realising the consequences.
As an ENTJ personality type I firmly related to being in command of both my personal relationship and business, and how I ran them with a command-and-control mentality. I had to run both to make sure everything was in order, and that I knew what was going on. I knew what was the right thing to do, and I would simply show people that I was right.
In retrospect, I feel that my actual leadership qualities were lacking, and I often presented a position of unrelenting opinion.
‘Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice’ — Steve Jobs
I was a living-breathing realisation of not letting other’s opinions matter at all. It was my way or the highway. While this can sometimes be the correct approach, it does mean the soft skills are missing and I could easily get it wrong.
And boy, did I get it wrong.
When the relationship ended I tried to take ‘control’ of the situation as best I could—true to the personality type—as I wanted to know why. I wanted to understand the reasons the relationship had failed so that I could ensure that they never happened again.
To begin with, I felt she had made the mistake of not communicating her feelings to me. How can I know what she wants if she doesn’t tell me. (Oh, the irony). I wanted to know how I could ensure good communication in the future to avoid the same thing reocurring.
Similarly with my business partner, my approach was to explain that he had not understood my vision, or known what I wanted. I also felt that he didn’t speak up about what he wanted enough, so, I had to take the sole responsibility of running the company.
However, through reading many books on relationships, on being a good leader, and through the devoted care of my therapist, Sarah—if you know me personally you will have heard me talk about my admiration, and the relationship I have with her—I was able to learn that perhaps my lack of prioritisation of other’s feelings resulted in continually detached and one-sided relationships.
I was unable to hear what was I was being told, because I was not listening. I was unable to deliver what others needed of me because I did not stop to ask what it was. I was unable to be successful in these domains because I did not know what success was.
After some time of reflecting, I had realised that I was not a nice person.
I realised that my behaviour impacts others, and often in a way that was at conflict with my own values. I liked to think of myself as a people person, and in tune with what people wanted. Perhaps however I was actually more in tune with what I thought people wanted.
I knew I had to change and was prepared to do so, but, what I didn’t realise was that I was about to fundamentally change who I am as a leader, as a friend, and as a lover. Naturally, a period of such reflection and realisation that I was not as in-tune with the feelings and needs of those I cared for was turbulent and tumultuous.
There was confusion, frustration, and anger.
It was a dark, dark period and I burned a number of bridges personally and professionally. I had breakdowns, I abused substances, and I was grappling with a lack of control — the very thing I once prided myself on.
I often refer to it as my second puberty.
I began to stop talking as much, or talking about myself as much and asking more questions. I began to retreat from the outside world while I processed this new information. I began to relinquish control.
This week I decided to take the Myer-Briggs test again, and I was surprised to see the results have changed from the last time I did it, some 3–4 years ago. I have shifted from ENTJ to ENFP.
I have gone from Command to Campaign, and this realisation has confirmed for me the journey that I went through was worth it. The most notable change for me has been my turn towards yearning to know and understnd the feelings of those around me. I’ve made a significant shift from Thinking to Feeling, from Judgement to Perceiving, and away from Extroversion to Introversion.
Where I once would have been described driven by ego and bravado, I am now described as considerate and thoughtful. I take pride in being nice to people, and my yogic approach to giving kindness in my everyday life.
More recently when people have asked what I value and strive for, it is to change the world. Not always altruistically, but, just to make it a somewhat better place. I bring this to life by leading through developed values of teaching, sharing, and empowering.
I made a commitment to become a mentor and coach this year, and to help others through this and similar life changes, to help them see that life can be as positive as you make it. To campaign for them.
I’m not out of the woods yet, and I still struggle with this transition.
I doubt my own motives when being nice to people and question my own sincerity. I want to know if they’re questioning why, and, this lack of self assurance sometimes makes it uncomfortable to listen and be present.
Though, the truth is that I am so intently interested in those around me, that I desire nothing more than to simply know what makes you get up in the morning so that I can share in those ideals with them.
‘I want to know what you ache for — and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing’ — Oriah Mountain Dreamer
I’m happy with my shift from Commander, because as a Campaigner, I can achieve so much more—at work, and in spiritual fulfilment. I’m happier in life, and happier with myself as a person.
A leader in design and strategy with a passion for human–centred design systems.