• Zarmina Penner

Identity, Personality, and Reputation are not the same


I hope you are closing out the year with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. It is a great time to reflect, pat ourselves on the back for all we have done well, and have compassion for all the rest. And it is also an excellent time for decluttering old thoughts and stuff we don't need anymore. I am greatly looking forward to that.


Some of you had written back to me with two topics (besides very kind comments, thank you!). You said:

1) “I don't have a team to lead; therefore, your newsletters don't apply to me, which is a pity.”

2) “Why are you stressing the aspect of Personality in leadership in your newsletters. Why is it important?”


Here are my thoughts:

First, I think we are all leaders as soon as we can take charge of our lives. Everyone is a leader somehow; at the very least, the leader of our minds and lives. We also lead those who are dependent on us. So, even though we may not have an official title or a team, we are leaders nonetheless.


As to why knowing one's and other's Personalities is essential:

If I don't understand the concept of Personality, I will assume everyone is like me and expect them to talk, walk, think and feel like me.

Life is about interacting with ourselves (self-talk) and with others.

If I don't know my Personality, I might miss my ego's negative suggestions in self-talk and accept them as truth.

If I don't know my Personality, I will also have a hard time differentiating between my thoughts and feelings as opposed to those of others, since we do take on the views and feelings of others quite easily.


But if I do, I can stay in my space, observe and be present with others, and most importantly, not expect others to behave like me. I can identify their personalities with some practice and then modulate my messages to make sense. Communication is much easier this way, and you will experience less frustration.


Think of it this way: We would never dream of hooking up two different computers, a Mac, and a Windows PC, without a translation program running between them, preparing them for interaction. It's much the same between people.


When we talk about Personality, we have to define what it is.

First off, Personality is not Identity and also not Reputation.

Identity is what we think of ourselves, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Mostly, we tend to have distorted identities. We either think too highly of ourselves in some aspects or not enough of ourselves in others. I have learned not to trust my stories about who I am, especially in an emotional state. They are primarily untrue and a figment of my ego's imagination to keep me safe and free of hurt.


Experts maintain that half of our Personality is nature, i.e., we are born that way, and the other half is nurture, i.e., the environment we grow up in informs us, our families, our friends, our culture.

There are many personality models. You could choose any, study it and gather experience by using it. I chose Myers-Briggs, mainly because it has its origins in the works of Carl Gustav Jung, whom I admire, and because there are good free tests to use. To top it off, I suggest taking an Enneagram test to understand your best growth path, and it also picks up well on the “nature” side of your personality.


However, it is Reputation that determines our place in the world, i.e., what others think of us. Of course, our Identity, and Personality impact our Reputation.

To get a good grip on this, I propose the following:

1) Drop the Identity and the stories attached to it. It is very freeing. If you hear yourself saying,” I am a person, who…”, that's a sign you are reciting from your Identity.

2) Find your home base Personality, acquaint yourself with it and live from it. You will have at least a second personality type you will slip into under stress, recognize it, and don't let it take over. It is normal. Without an Identity to reflect on, you will have more time to contemplate the Personality aspect (see October & November 2021 posts).

3) Ask those who will tell you the truth about how others perceive you, and listen well, though it may hurt your ego. Find out more about your Reputation. Learn from it and adapt your behavior by recognizing your emotional triggers and reacting less. The best test I have uncovered so far is Hogan. If you can get it within your organization, ask for the Flash Report. It will tell you what others think of you regarding the light side of your Personality (strengths), the dark side of your Personality (so-called weaknesses), and your motives, values, and preferences. Truly invaluable.


With all that in place, you can be true to yourself and choose to behave authentically and pleasantly with others. In this aware state, continue taking in feedback signals, observe yourself, and grow. Then nothing will stand in the way between you and your success.


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Photo by Fauxels from Pexels


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