A Dove with backbone (+a little Parrot)

My journey to understand myself — via bird personas.

Scary Eagle. Nice Dove.

Due to some recent challenges, errr opportunities I should say, presented at the workplace, I decided to seek out executive coaching, from the great Dan Silvert.

Prior to our first session, Dan had me take a DISC assessment. Some of you might be aware of this personality survey, or similar ones like Meyers Briggs, but what I LOVE about Dan’s version of the DISC, is that he gives each outcome a different “Bird” label, which makes it VERY easy to capture who you are in simple, memorable terms.

Here is a very simple breakdown of each of the birds:

Eagle: Forceful, direct, strong-willed. Operates heavily on strong intuition.

Parrot: Optimistic, friendly, talkative. Biggest fear is others not liking them.

Dove: Steady, loyal, practical. An overall peace-keeper. Hates conflict.

Owl: Precise, sensitive, analytical. They’re their own toughest critic.

My results turned out to be a bit “freakish” as I encompass 3 birds (when most people usually have 1 or 2). I am a Dove, Eagle, Parrot, or as Dan calls me, “A Dove with Backbone.” In my professional-public life I present myself as an Eagle, but I am actually more of a Dove inside. To complicate things further, I throw in a lot of Parrot into the equation (i.e. humor, storytelling, talking too much, serving up jokes during tense moments).

My coach doesn’t encounter too many of these “triple-threats” (threat not necessarily being a good thing) — which means I have a lot more introspection ahead of me.

The bright side to my personality disorder is that once I master my bird watching skills, I should be able to detect other doves, parrots, eagles etc from miles away, and will therefore know which of my many personalities to play up more — resulting in more effective communication. I am a bit SOL when it comes to Owls, but I will work on that.

You guys, this bird thing is KEY to being good at life, and it’s especially handy in business.

Let’s take a client meeting or pitch for example, I have learned that I shouldn’t take the hard-hitting Eagle approach if I am presenting to a room full of Parrots or Doves…I will scare them away. And I cannot be too Parrot-like to an Owl client who will just interpret my words as fluff or hot air (i.e. show me the data!).

So what should I make of all of this?

Knowledge is power. Just knowing that I am actually a Dove, but present myself a lot ‘harsher’ to the outside world is enlightening. I really just don’t come across that friendly to strangers. Acquaintances and some new clients tend to view me as a “no-bullshit-feminist-career-woman who wants them to pay up and sign big contracts.” But the truth is…I really really despise negotiating numbers. It is the least favorite part of my job. During contract negotiations my Dove/ Parrot birds are firing all sorts of inner monologue doubts…but my outside Eagle keeps me from saying “That’s fine. Just tell me what you can afford to pay.”

I guess the Eagle keeps my “people-pleasing” birds in check. So maybe it’s not that bad having a somewhat split personality.

I wish I had some final consensus of what to make of all this Bird Shi*. But, I really don’t yet. Except that it’s not shi*, it’s party of my journey to better understanding myself and how I relate to others, and isn’t that really the secret to a happy life?

So let’s hear it, what do you think your bird(s) personality mash-up is?

Stay tuned for more reflections on this flight to better self-awareness.

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