What is the one thing no-one knows about you?
“What is the one thing no-one knows about you?”
Usually this is the classic question people ask you at your first all-hands at a new company or in a new team. Every company I’ve worked with in the last 4? 6? 8? years has started with this question. And the thing is, despite its ‘LOLz’ and ‘getting to know you’ vibe - it’s a pretty important question.
I was discussing with someone recently about how one of the biggest shifts I’d experienced professionally and personally was being asked that question - not in an all-hands - but in private by a professional management coach. (With that in mind I guess for many people the one thing they don’t know about me is I visit a professional coach regularly).
Coaching is a great way of exploring your weaknesses, your strengths - talking through your worries and anxieties of managing others. It’s also a great way to practise self-reflection, and understand why you do what you do, and who you are because of that.
Of course coaching is not cheap - and some companies actively don’t care about that level of personal development. But the power of self-awareness doesn’t have to come from paid sessions, it just has to be seen as a focus of self-improvement. Wouldn’t you like to learn more about your default behaviours? Wouldn’t you like to learn as a team how you work, why you work and be able to understand why people react to things the way they do? Why some conversations are more difficult that others? Why someone might have the drive to push for creative excellence but shy from the public adoration you then heap on them afterwards?
If someone asks me, “What is the one thing no-one knows about you?” my answer now is less LOLz and more meaningful - and more importantly, it’s more useful to others who are going to work with me.
For those new to Myers-Briggs and Carl Jung, have a Google. There’s a lot of corporate-psych talk and 90’s-style Goldman-Sachs-Application-Exam written about it. Ignore that. Use it for good, rather than weaponise it. Use it to peel a few layers away and reflect. Use it to understand yourself and - if you have a team and they’re willing - use it to work out how you maybe all fit together.
You can start here: https://www.16personalities.com
The question of course then arises - do you share your insights with others? Do you encourage your team to share their insights too? The answer to that is ‘I don’t know’ - you’ll need to decide that as a team, or you’ll need to decide that first step based on the level of trust you have between each other.
The insight that you get from Myers-Briggs isn’t really that deep - there are effectively 16 personality types, one of which you’ll mostly identify with (16 personality types is a bit of a lie, as in reality in Myers-Briggs there’s contested A/T personality derivatives beyond the basic personality types identified by Jung, but let’s ignore that for now). Look, this isn’t deep discovery therapy - you’re not on a couch on a clock here - but it’s a jumping off point for self reflection.
Wait! What? You think Myers-Briggs is basic trope stuff and as accurate as astrology? Well you’re not alone. Indeed you can easily move personality type in Myers-Briggs just by being tired or hungover. I’m definitely a critic of it being used as FACT. It’s a talking point at best. One of the hardest things about self discovery - along with meditation - is finding a way ‘in’. Finding a jumping off point. For some it’s Myers-Briggs, but for some it might be some basic questions that go truly deeper than ‘how’s things?’ - it could be ‘tell me what you love or hate about your day to day’, it could be ‘how do you prefer to receive praise?’ - anything that peel the layers back a little and encourages insight, not just to you, but to the person you ask the question to. With Mayers-Briggs it’s as much talking about what isn’t accurate in its reading.
My team use self-discovery as a basis of our understanding of each other. We all do that discovery of who we are, but we choose who we share that information with, and in what format. We’ve found it a good way of individually being assertive in defining how we work and how we communicate, and how we want to be challenged.
To me my self-discovery revealed my passions are tied to challenges. I need to be challenged. But I find it challenging when I’m not being challenged. That weaknesses in my personality type is definitely something I work on hardcore and I’ve seen significant gains on, but it does describe why I embraced freelance so robustly in the earlier part of my career - I just needed new things and new situations. I’ve now traded new things and new situations with longer term focus and I’ve done this by replacing the need for ‘new’ with the need to ‘progress’ - be that progressing personally, team-wise, idea-wise or product-wise. It certainly explains my draw to start-ups and venture, and it certainly explains my career history (I have very broad experience across multiple industries to the point whereby someone described my LinkedIn as an ‘Impressive Scavenger Hunt’ - I guessing it was a compliment. They hired me).
The best question you can ask about yourself - or anyone - is “What is the one thing no-one knows about you?", and I highly recommend you do so. Personal awareness is critical to understanding why you do what you do - and if you don’t know why you do what you do - how the hell are you going to help anyone else figure out why they do what they do? Exactly.
Wow. What a classic ENTP statement to end a post on, LOLz.