To Reach Your Ultimate Potential You Must Develop Multiple Personalities (UHD Part 3)

Explaining what your Ultimate Potential is by way of “multiple personalities” came to me in the shower. We all have places where we tend to contemplate our life’s complexities and come up with new insights. Well, this happens to be one of my places of deep thought.

Over the last few years, I have spent considerable time contemplating how to articulate to an audience that in addition to having different backgrounds, also has differences in how their brains prefer to organize the information absorbed from the outside world. This is not an easy task because it implies that I have to find one approach that fits multiple combinations of brain functions. Eight of them to be exact.

We all have moments where we come to a pinnacle of insight on something we have been quietly pondering. Unfortunately, we don’t always remember the path our minds took to get there. More than 20 years ago I started carrying a small notepad and pencil in order to jot down the key elements that would lead me to what I call the common denominators. This means that no matter how you approach the dilemma you are contemplating, you keep arriving to the same connective tissue, if you will. This was when I realized what is what I call the “Ultimate Human Dilemma.” Now, I will share with you this morning’s path that helped me see a different way to connect my dots to yours.

It started with the realization that innovation cannot be bureaucratized. The only way innovation happens inside of a bureaucracy that has anti-visionary decision-makers is by internal rogue ground forces. History has repeatedly proven this within large corporations as well as governments and institutions. Only through the process of synapsing can these creativity-stifling forces be overcome. This realization brought me back to the “why.” Why am I trying so hard to find a way to connect my proverbial “dots” to yours?

The answer is because I genuinely want to help you. I have an authentic belief that if I can help enough people see the world through these lenses, it will grow organically and spread from its own valuable merits. Society could potentially materialize the needed filter against those who let personal greed sabotage the real gains of the collective capacities of the very teams the world depends on.

Then, it clicked. The way to frame what I refer to as the Ultimate Potential so that a 21-year old nursing student can connect with it the same as a 55-year old insurance agent. The Ultimate Potential is the missing yardstick to measure people and their “team-ability” which, after all, should be the most important aspect to hiring, promoting, electing, and marrying. But first, let’s finish the refinement to the improved use of MBTI.

In a previous blog, I introduced “MBTI 2.0” as a way to use the same foundational work of Carl Jung without losing the added structural integrity of Katharine Cook-Briggs and daughter Isabel Briggs-Myers, who formed the MBTI personality assessment tool. MBTI 2.0 focuses on the two dominant functions you were born with — one hardware function of sensing or intuition coupled with one software of thinking or feeling. The presence of the non-dominant functions in an individual depends on the conditions and circumstances in their life for which they may or may not develop (this is what the Ultimate Potential measures.)

We often hear and use the word personality, however, we likely do not know the exact definition. The definition is a set of individual differences that are affected by the development of an individual such as values, attitudes, personal memories, social relationships, habits, and skills.

The word personality is derived from the Latin word persona, meaning mask much like the one you would find in the theater. Your personality is, therefore, the mask you wear, which is a manifestation over time. It is shaped by the conditions and circumstances in your life and how you manage them from the “1,2 combination” brain hardware and software functions given to you by your biological parents.

When the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” happens, your capacity and ability to overcome and grow the right kind of stronger is intricately linked to how your brain builds and refines its functions ambidexterity.

It is then reflected in the outward mask we know as our personality. Therefore, the definition of the word ‘personality’ does not tell us why we have our individual personalities. The history of the study of personality psychology dates back to Hippocrates more than 2,000 years ago. He showed that there were four describable categories of personality that was later termed temperaments by Galen in AD 129. Fast forward to today, all major breakthroughs in the science of personality psychology have come to some version of the same symmetry of the “number 4.” This includes the work of Carl G. Jung on which MBTI is based (sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling.)

Now let’s tie it to neuroscience

For those of you who might be a tad skeptical of the field of psychology, we now have neuroscience.

Neuroscience has also proven the existence of the two hardware functions of sensing and intuition as described by Jung and MBTI. I like to relate to sensing as ‘interpolative’ and intuitive as ‘extrapolative’ brain types. Another way to understand the difference is sensing/interpolative/dorsal pathway would be those that “things need to make sense to them.” Intuitive/extrapolative/ventral pathway would be those that “make sense out of things.” Whether you want to believe it or not, one of these pathways is your dominant brain hardware.

Neuroscience also arrives at this symmetry of 4, as evidenced in the book Top Brain/Bottom Brain. In the book, the authors derive from the various researchers of the two streams hypothesis that everyone falls into one of four types based on the above. There is more similarity than differences from that of Hippocrates and Jung/MBTI. The authors also point out the fallacy of the common belief that Left/Right brain describes your personality. It, in fact, does not. These two halves of the brain are important, but not for understanding personality. They were based on research for finding a cure for epilepsy. The truth is, the difference is actually between the upper and lower regions of the brain as shown above. Unfortunately, the authors failed to connect their “dots” to the other “dots” that are out there to connect. Namely, the history of personality psychology and legacy of work from Carl Jung et al.

As already alluded, the way to think about your Ultimate Potential is through your brain’s level of “ambidexterity” — something that cannot be developed unless the brain is pressured. It has to experience the strain of conditions and circumstances. Then and only then can it gain acumen with non-dominant hardware and software. If left undeveloped, it will eventually atrophy over time such that by adulthood it is essentially gone.

Looking at it this way, reaching closer to your Ultimate Potential implies having more than one mask to wear. Because, of course, you have developed more than one from the conditions and circumstances in your life that lead to access to the non-dominant functions of your brain. This means that you have developed multiple personalities.

This will result in having at least two MBTI profile descriptions that others would say fit your personality. From a “team-ability” perspective, this means you will “synapse” with more people. Every company should focus their hiring practices on finding the right functions for the tasks as well as those with high scores in their Ultimate Potential (called UP-Factors) to maximize team-ability and minimize toxic individuals from the organization.

With MBTI 2.0 I showed you that by removing the extroversion/introversion and judging/perceiving dichotomies of MBTI you are left with only eight possible combinations. This is the pairing of hardware and software you get from your biological parents. From there, it is up to you. One of these eight are your 1,2 combination. In other words, one of these is you. Do not take the MBTI test to find out. You are better off reading the MBTI profiles and writing your name at the top of the one(s) that best describes you.

This figure shows you what the non-dominant 3rd and 4th functions that you have the potential to develop some level of ambidxterity. The 4th function is what I call the prison space. It is your prison space because you will never be great at it. If you had to work every day in an environment where having a strong capacity for your prison space function was a benefit, then you would for sure feel like you were in prison! (Note, finding one’s prison space is one of my techniques for reading the functions of people.

Compensating for your prison space is as simple as recognizing it exists and then subordinating yourself to others on your team that have this function as one of their two dominant functions. That alone makes your weaker 4th function no longer so weak, right? It has always has been up to you!

If you assume that everyone who is born with their 1,2 combination starter kit develops themselves to some level of proficiency and ambidexterity with their non-dominant hardware and software functions, you arrive at that lovely symmetry of 4 again. Even so, it is still based on the same proven model proposed by Jung, structured by MBTI, and now justified by neuroscience.

I have given a tag name and description to each of these four combinations. This is the symmetry of 4 personalities, masks, or temperaments for how we would be if all of us reached this level of brain function ambidexterity. Which one are you?

Unfortunately, not everyone will achieve the threshold of their Ultimate Potential to become “functionally ambidextrous.” This doesn’t imply that they are of no value to teams or their resumes should be tossed aside. It simply means that they may not synapse with as many different types of people as someone who has developed this ambidexterity. The UP Factors, however, will filter out those who can be cancers to teams from the ones who are team builders as well as team leaders.

We Should All Want to be that Monkey That Can Do Our Job!

I have come up with a way to frame this, metaphorically and visually. The descriptions of the Vacuum Cleaner, Problem Finder, Problem Solver, and Mind Reader are key to balancing out our teams. Important in situations such as building an executive leadership team or staffing a major R&D project. These are the four buckets that I call BOM’s, an acronym for Barrel of Monkeys.

Note that as you start to build teams using the added ability to Synapse you start to look like the cells that give us life. In future blogs I will show you how organizations can become more like organisms.

So why would I use ‘Barrel of Monkeys’ to describe the individuals I want to build my organization with? It is most commonly used in a denigrating way when your boss tells you that “a monkey could do your job.” Well, if being that monkey means you can build what you see here, I would wear the monkey tag like a badge of honor.

Let’s use an example. Let’s imagine I have 100 people in my organization who have developed this ambidexterity, (therefore a ‘BOM’) and I put these 100 people into an imaginary bucket. If I then randomly pull one out of the bucket, the chances are they will pull along with them a connected network of other people. A synaptic network of people. It’s just like the game Barrel of Monkeys. Every organization not only needs BOM’s on their staff, they should want as many as they can get.

From babies to toddlers to the 4th graders Alan Greenspan talks about, (when we first take the reins of our brains) we have to go through the conditions and circumstances necessary to create the incentive to build our brain ambidexterity. If you don’t achieve it you remain what I call “40/10’ers” (pronounced ‘forty-tenners.’) This means you are not using any more brain functions at age 40 than you did at age 10. This is not a negative connotation by any means. It just means you will have a somewhat reduced ability to be on the same page with, or synapse with, other people compared to a BOM who has more than one “mask” to do so. This means a 40/10'er will connect best with individuals who share similar functions to their own. Forced teamwork between two people with opposite functions often generates frictions. “Frictions between the functionsis the Ultimate Human Dilemma and is the source of team and organizational dysfunction.

From a people chemistry perspective, teams of 40/10'ers tend to consume more energy than they produce, even if they are still being able to get the job done. It will take more energy to overcome the frictions between the functions of individuals that are unable to synapse.

Conversely, high-performance teams are only built when BOM’s are connected to form networks with the freedom and empowerment to let these networks manage themselves. This is where each person is the same person: no matter where they are in the world on any given day, they are the same person. The team has a singular identity. A fictitious person with a face and a body that is the interface between the team and the outside world. Everyone on the team is this same person with a well-understood goal to achieve. It is a true Level 3 Synapse.

In other blogs I describe how just one 40/10'er who scores low on two of the dimensions of the UP Factors can take a successful team and poison it like cancer. The Ultimate Human Solution will propose how to prevent this from happening so your organization can transform itself to being akin to a living, breathing organism.

Kelly Williams,