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Are Personality Assessments Like Myers-Briggs and Enneagrams Useful When You’re Working with a Coach?

Are Personality Assessments Like Myers-Briggs and Enneagrams Useful When You’re Working with a Coach?

Here's why I don't use them with my clients. | TQ227

Over 25 years ago, I did a Myers-Briggs test, which told me I was an “INFJ” type.

An Advocate (INFJ) is someone with the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging personality traits. They tend to approach life with deep thoughtfulness and imagination. Their inner vision, personal values, and a quiet, principled version of humanism guide them in all things. (Source)

The description made sense to me at the time and reading it again, it’s an accurate reflection of me.

In my late 20s and at the cusp of my initiation into the world of personal growth, I felt like I had discovered the most powerful characteristics within me. The test showed me who I really believed I was within a framework that somehow felt validating and true. It was a test everyone else was doing, and hundreds of thousands before me, so I assumed it must be accurate.

Whom you believe you are (or were) is fixed — who you can become is transformative.

What I’ve discovered over the years — having worked with various coaches for myself, and with my clients — is that a powerful coach can help you see yourself for who you are — without judgement, assessment, or attachment to the past.

There is a profound difference between the result of taking a personality test and the results you can accomplish working with a coach. Coaching offers both personal liberation and transformation, helping you see that your potential for growth is not dependent on fixed conditions, rather, it’s a conscious practice that evolves with action. Often, it takes another person to help you see what you can’t see about yourself and how you can use that new awareness to map a new direction.

It’s like not being able to see the nose on your face because you’d get a headache, crossing your eyes together to do so.

About 20 years ago, I did an in-depth astrology profile that produced a 30-page report.

It was so accurate at confirming my identity that it freaked me out.

Now, if you were to ask if I would do any personality tests with a coaching client, my answer would be no. Personality tests can be helpful if you get to see what you believe to be true about yourself that you haven’t seen or realized before. These tests can be a leaping-off-point, but not a justification for who you are, perhaps for the simple reason that they are not factual.

The reason I don’t use these tests is because of the danger of assuming that because the test says such-and-such are your character traits or personality type, you might decide to make that a fixed label or identification.

As human beings, we are constantly growing, evolving, and transforming.

We have a unique capacity to change who we are being in an instant.

We all have narratives and triggers that make us repeatedly and habitually experience emotions associated with past events, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change our future responses to those subconscious or unconscious reactions. I don’t use personality assessments with my coaching clients because they don’t tell us anything about what we want to accomplish. To say, “I’m an introvert,” is a fixed identity and could be used as a crutch, a limitation, or an excuse — even if being an introvert is mostly true about you.

“I would like to practice strategies to become more confident and secure in groups of people” is a desire to transform how you show up in the world and gives you power over your personal liberation and transformation.

You deserve to enjoy what life has to offer, feel fulfilled, and ultimately enjoy happiness and peace of mind every day.

You won’t get those results from a personality test.

To become more skillful in life is a kinder way of saying, how to be more efficient, effective, and productive in getting things done with self-awareness, contentment, and love — yes, love for yourself and others. This may require defining or refining your values, as well as the things you believe to be true. If you have never questioned what you value or believe in, that may be the source for why you’re not getting what you want.

These questions are part of the self-examined life that help you discover what’s most meaningful, provide the impetus for action, and with every action, put you on the path of personal transformation.

About 5 years ago, I redid the Myers-Briggs test.

Unable to duplicate my original INFJ result, I immediately re-took the test, only to be informed once again I was a different ‘initialism’ — a different personality type and identity.

Oh, so I can change! :-)