Your dark side

The Hogan assessment company has an interesting video up on “The Science of Personality.” In this 37 minute film, they take us through the evolution in the study of personality with a focus on the developments in the last 100 years. While I was hoping for a bit more explanation around some of the modern developments, the movie has a few interesting nuggets.

It explains that there are 3 forces that guide human behavior –
1. The need to get along
2. The need to achieve within the group
3. The need for a purpose or frame with which to make sense of the world.

And, most of human life is a tension between the need to get along and the need to achieve. It also spoke about how effective leadership is the key resource that makes teams perform. And, how ineffective leadership, on the other hand, can destroy all sorts of progress. But, of course, personality drives leadership, which, in turn, drives organizations. And, that means personality is really powerful.

If I had to sum up the video’s takeaway it would be – “Learn more about your personality and be self aware.” I think that’s great advice. They touched on the idea of understanding both our bright and dark sides – our dark side comprises of behaviors we are either prone to during times of stress or when we tend to over use our strengths.

I think of the dark side as a manifestation of our insecurities. For instance, when I feel especially insecure, I seem to either respond with an ego that tries to act as a shield or find myself prone to envy. And, when I overuse my strengths, it often means coming across too forceful.

I’ve learnt to accept that my dark side will never go away. There are certain psychological triggers that bring them to the fore. I’ve attempted to design my life in ways to avoid these unnecessary triggers. For instance, given I am fairly attention deficit, I take many breaks during the day. But, I’ve avoided the Facebook feed for 2 years now. I use Facebook to share links, stay in touch and also participate in groups. But, the feed is a rabbit hole I’ve learnt to avoid. During a bad day, it is a perfect example of an envy generator. And, I’m better off focusing on everything I need to do. Similarly, when I feel insecure, I’ve learnt to recognize the sudden feelings of arrogance that it brings or a certain unnecessary forcefulness. I don’t think I succeed in avoiding them all the time (it results in a follow up apology or note to whoever was on the other side sometimes) but I realize that awareness is the first step towards acceptance and action.

Our dark sides are a part of who we are. Understanding and accepting that is the first step to being genuine.