I’ve always been fascinated with self-discovery tools, personality tests, psychology and philosophy and how to use these to develop a better understanding of myself, and others.
Years ago I read a book by Ayn Rand called “philosophy, who needs it.” The title essay tells the story of a pilot who crash lands on a martian planet with no memory of who he is, where he is from, or what he is doing. Philosophy, according to Rand, is simply a tool to help us ask the most important questions—who am I, where am I, and what should I do about? We’ve all essentially crash landed here, and are desperately in need of a map and a guide to help us figure it all out.
Here are five easy ways to leave behind the wreckage of the past, and start exploring and developing your own maps and guides to who you are and what to do about it right now:
1 - Take a Briggs-Myers test
This is the classic personality test that almost all of us come across, or are presented with, at some point in life. If you’ve ever heard anyone mention that they are an ENTP or an ENFJ then this is what they are referring to.
The test is one of the best ways—in my opinion—to begin looking at yourself from an outside perceptive, so to speak. It can help you dig deeper into your own personality and discover things about yourself you never knew how to articulate before.
While there are many ways to take the test, my personal favorite is 16personalities. It’s quick and easy, and free. And if you really want to dig in deep, you can pay a small fee for a massive download of your complete profile, which of course I did. It’s amazing. Not only does it detail every aspect of your personality in relation to things like work, family, love, and more, it breaks down how you tend to interact with other personality types, and the challenges you may face with them.
The world is filled with different personality types, who think about the world and communicate in very different ways from you. Learning more about this is one of the best ways to gain a broader understanding of this.
2 - Astrology
Astrology was the ancient worlds Briggs Myers test.
Whether you believe in astrology or not, it can be an interesting way to explore your “supposed” personality and others’ as well. I’m a Leo. And when I read the Leo description, I can’t help but see myself. Others would probably agree. When I was in high school and college I would almost always look up the astrological sun signs of new people I’d meet, to try to understand something about who they were and what their interests might be. I always took this with a grain of salt however. No one person can be simplified down to a star sign. I don’t even believe in it really. I treat it like a vague foundation for how a person—whom I knew nothing about—might be in space-time. Many times it seems to work. But not always.
Here are a few of my favorite astrological sites:
Astrology Online - Horribly out-dated design, with the best descriptions ever
FreeWill Astrology - Some of the best written daily / monthly horoscopes ever
Also, there are two astrological approaches—western and eastern. Don’t forget to explore both. Here’s a great article that explores the Chinese zodiac.
3 - The Left/Right Method
I’ve used this method to kickstart brand personality conversations for businesses, but it works great for people as well. In fact, I used this method years ago to help me decide how my own personality and preference should dictate my wardrobe.
It’s very simple. Using the exercise sheet below, simply place a checkmark closest to the traits your personality leans. Then see which side your check marks generally fall on.
If your check marks are toward the left:
You are more contemporary, fast moving and energetic. You might like to make ideas happen quickly and are willing to take more risks.
If your check marks are toward the right:
You are more traditional, prefer solid planning and established methods. You avoid risk and like to take the safe route. You don’t like to stand out as much.
If your check marks are in the middle:
You don’t have a clear personality or aren’t able to be honest about it. You are forgettable in others minds. You try to appeal to everyone.
If your check marks are all over the place:
You are quirky, with a unique and complicated personality set. It’s a challenge to define but much better than the middle.
This method is of course, super general. But I love it and feel it’s one of the quickest ways to jump-start a personality discussion that can begin to help you make tough decisions today.
4 - The Chris W. Hubbard method
Ok, so I’m not sure this is really MY method, but it’s an exercise I came up with that I run through with others all the time. Not because it leads to anything definitive. In fact, quite the opposite. This simple method isn’t about defining things, it’s about going down a variety of paths, on mini explorations, just see what’s there—coming back after each one to digest, compare and spend time discussing things. Here’s how it works: Ask yourself each of the following three questions. Don’t get hung on on any one question. Feel free to move around, explore, come back, switch questions, ect. This is a wild nature exploration quest.
How do I see myself?
Spend some time exploring this question. Try to focus on the way you honestly see yourself, in your own head. Jot things down if you want, or don’t. Just spend some time here. Let it turn into a bit of a conversation.
How do others see me?
When you think of your friends, family, even strangers on the street, how is it you assume they most often see you? What type of person do you think they see? What kind of assumptions do you think they make about you? What things are they most likely not seeing in you?
How do I wish others saw me?
What is the you, that you wish others did see in you? In what ways does your idea of how people see you conflict or match the way you see yourself? Could you make adjustments? What would you need to do? What matters, and what doesn’t?
5 - Explore the philosophy book
Many books on philosophy can be challenging to read, but not this one. This has to be the most fun, easy to read, book on philosophic ideas I’ve ever purchased. It’s not delivers concepts clearly, but is designed in a way that makes it visually impactful as well.
Exploring philosophy is one of the best ways to discover new, or old, ideas and worldviews that may resonate with yourself and reflect fundamental aspects of your personality. Maybe you realize you are indeed an existentialist. Maybe you read about Desiderius’s approach to Humanism and realize exactly who you are, and what you need to do—or not do—to be truly happy.