After a much-needed break from the movie industry to be with my young children, in 2007 I chose to work on (what I thought would be) a small, quick film called Wanted.
The movie and my responsibilities quickly grew to a point where my three three-week stints, with a month in between, turned into a solid six-month engagement.
While I did enjoy the experience, I was at first puzzled by how difficult it was for me. The work in itself wasn’t difficult, but rather my attitude I had in approaching the work.
Luckily, early in the process, I happened to read Florence Littauer’s book, Personality Plus.
I first became aware of Littauer years earlier because her book, Your Personality Tree, is on World Wide DreamBuilders’ recommended reading list.
Reading Personality Plus did a lot to put the sequel, Your Personality Tree, in a bigger context that made it even more meaningful. Your Personality Tree explains how we will mask our true temperaments, based on our environment, particularly when we are around our family.
My work is very detailed, and must be done in isolation.
By nature, I am not detailed, and I am social.
Because I had been away from the movie world for an extended period of time, my true personality/temperament had a chance to manifest itself. And so when I went back into that environment, the evidence of past masking was apparent.
The attempt to understand the different personalities and temperaments of those around us, in one form or another, is nothing new. The idea behind this analysis is to help a person understand themselves, their strengths and their weaknesses.
Some systems are a little more involved, like:
Myers-Briggs, which breaks it down into four basic elements and from there into 16 personality types.
DISC, which stands for Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance. This system also takes four basic elements, then carves up the personality puzzle into 15 pattern types.
Other systems are very basic, such as those that classify people through the metaphor of four animals: Are you a lion? An otter? A golden retriever? A beaver?
All of these approaches can be traced to Galen, an influential 2nd century Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher who coined the types as sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic.
Using those four terms, Littauer explores the strengths and weaknesses of each of these personality types. Significantly, the subtitle of Personality Plus is How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself.
The biggest benefit I derived from Personality Plus is how much it helped me to genuinely appreciate others. What I once saw as a weakness in someone, I now saw as a much-needed asset.
Relational conflict as well as my critical spirit towards others have been greatly diminished because of what Littauer, in her humorous, witty way, communicated through her book.