What makes you tick?

Our brains are always running. Yours might be running on the next obstacle our team faces. Maybe it’s on a new approach to testing code. It could be running over a next great date idea with your spouse.

What’s true is that our brains are always working. Our thoughts have patterns to them. Understanding those patterns empowers us to organize our thoughts and direct our paths, not just in our teams but also in our homes and social lives. In my journey, I’ve made huge advances in understanding how my brain works and what gets me going.

Four years ago, I traveled back to the town I went to college. I was having a rough patch in my life when I sat down with my friend Brent. He helped me do some analysis of the things I’m passionate about. He made some observations. He noticed that when I was in college, I used to be an advocate for an environmental-advocacy group. He paired that with another I was doing at that time: I was a public advocate to motivate people to make care packages for unfortunate kids. The causes were different, but the work I was doing was the same: public speaking and advocacy.

Brent and I share the same faith background. He called it a “God-created-identity,” that we can identify a specific purpose we are made with. With this identified, we can much more clearly pursue our goals around what motivate us.

Since that time, I’ve undergone many different personality tests. They’re typically a little fun and they take a little introspection. How do we tick? They help us understand what makes us unique. In software teams, we each need that uniqueness to bring our best to a team. When we can identify our uniqueness, we in fact bring more of ourselves to the table.

We also ought support each other’s uniqueness. My colleagues are different from me. That’s great! Our team is stronger from our differences. It can be a challenge in some ways to resolve differences, but we bring much more to the table when we embrace those differences and understand unique perspectives.

In the professional world, a commonly used personality test is the Strength’s Finder survey by Gallup. It is helpful for an individual to take those strengths to understand themselves better (I will leave my strengths in the comments section of this post). Most likely, knowing your individual strengths is helpful for a career-direction standpoint.

To take it to another level, an entire team could take the Strength’s Finder survey. When I know my colleagues’ strengths, I can reach out to them for different kinds of challenges we face. They are often better equipped or more passionate about certain challenges, and the net result for the team is greater strength.

“Know thyself” is an old adage. It is no less useful today than it was in ancient Greece. We empower ourselves for greater things when we can better understand how we operate and how our team operates.