Your personality and your brain | Scott Schwefel | TEDxBrookings


Translator: Ivana Krivokuća
Reviewer: Mile Živković Thank you. Thank you, Scott, thank you, Amanda, for that flight that we had
and the authentic conversation. I’m here to talk with you
about the brain science of communication, as it relates to business on fire. Igniting your business,
igniting your business for growth. Igniting you, in what you do
in your business. What I want you
to think about for a minute is, what does it take to do that? What will it take you
to ignite your business? And to me, it’s the science
of communication, but really it’s the science
of self-awareness. How aware are you
of what you’re capable of doing? How well do you know yourself,
how well do you know other people? It’s about what you pay attention to. So, what I want you
to think about just for a second is a question you’ve answered
a million times in your life: who are you? In business, you probably talk
about your role: “I’m a painter,” “I’m a consultant,”
“I’m a fireman.” Right? You might talk about a personal role:
father, mother, sister. I’d like you to answer
a little bit differently, and to help you, I’ll answer it
a little bit differently. I’d like to answer, it if I can,
with an alliterative adjective. A what? Alliterative adjective
is just an adjective that starts with the same sound
as your first name. My name is Scott. My adjective would be “smiling.” Smiling Scott. It could be standing Scott,
it could be speaking Scott. You might be frustrated Frank, tired Tom or, because of the time,
hungry Henrietta. Whatever it is, I’d like you
to come up with it quickly and share it with people
on your right and left. A one-word adjective that starts
with the same sound as your first name and describes you right now. Come up with it quickly
and share it. Go ahead. Okay, if you didn’t come up with it, you can still work on it
and come up with it over lunch in those authentic
conversations that you have. But the reason I asked you to do it is probably something you didn’t do
yesterday or last week or last month. It’s not a way that you typically
answer the question, which means you had to think about it. You actually had to use
your conscious brain to come alive, come aware, and come up
with something new, versus just a traditional
or a typical answer that you gave. But what it leans into is,
who do you think you really are? It’s about self-perception. How well do you know yourself? And how well do you come across
to other people and is it the same? I want you to think about
when you first became aware, self-aware, this morning. Probably for many of you,
looking in the mirror, brushing your teeth,
you started to think about: who am I and how am I
going to show up today? Who am I going to be today
as I interact with other people? I wonder what impact I’ll have on them. Take a look at my slide however. Sometimes we look in the mirror
and the image we see of ourselves is not what the rest of the world sees. If I were to ask you again
in terms of just self-awareness, do I identify more
with the kitten in this image, or do you identify more
with the lion in this image? Where are my kittens
in the group? Let me see. You just identify more with the kitten. Where are my lions in the group? Wow. Look at the difference. Okay? How do kittens vote? Meow. (Laughter) Right? No one wants to be the first
or only kitten. It’s not funny. Lions are right there.
It’s a difference in personality. What I want you to start
to pay attention to is, what are those unique differences
in terms of personality for you? What’s this word, by the way? No, really, everyone: what is this word? Audience: Silk! And what does the cow drink? Audience: Milk! So, here’s the thing, okay?
Here’s the thing. There are two parts of our brain and my job is to slice yours
in half today, and help you realize
that a big part of communication is driven by your subconscious. It’s the part of your brain
that loves to give you answers, it just gave you the answer “milk”. But it was the wrong answer, wasn’t it? That’s what your subconscious brain does frequently when you interact
with other people. It makes assumptions,
and they’re wrong, and you roll with it. What I want you to do instead, like you just thought
about the alliterative adjective, is I want you to turn your brains on. I want you to be conscious of yourself,
more conscious of who you are, and the impact that you’re having
on other people. Right? A focus on awareness.
Who are you really? How do you really show up
and interact with other people? And it’s got to start
with knowing yourselves, and then knowing the other person. Once you know who you are
and how you’re wired, you need to be consciously aware
of what Carl Jung called “the otherness of the other.” Because if you’re not, until you make
the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life,
and you will call it fate. Everyone of us has millions of patterns
in our subconscious brain that determine how we interact
with other people. And if we don’t challenge them
through consciousness, stuff just happens to us, and we think it just happens
over and over again, and it’s fate, we don’t have control of it,
but you do have control. Your conscious brain gives you
the ability to change your outcomes based on changing patterns
in your subconscious brain. How do we do that? We have a new thought. We have a new idea.
We authentically steal ideas. And pull them together. It’s a — as Reece said,
it’s in your toolkit right now. You have the ability
to have a new though at any time about anything in your life
you’d like to be different, and switching your brain on
and having that thought creates a new pattern
for you to hang on to. But it starts with knowing you
and knowing others. So, how have we done that over the years?
How have people done that? Heraclitus came up with a model
25 hundred years ago. It was very actively practiced
in modern medicine at the time, but for over 2000 years, we tried
to define people by type, by category. It’s a way of knowing yourself
and it’s a framework. So what we’re talking about here
is with this conscious awareness, having a framework
with which you know yourself, how you show up and who you are, so that you can communicate
and relate to others. That’s what it’s for,
that’s the power of it. So that’s one model.
There are so many others in the world. Especially in terms of business,
and igniting your business, or lighting a business on fire,
helping people to be more self-aware. How many of you have been through
some of the models that are listed here? Millions and millions of people,
most of you as well. The power of these models
is helping you figure out “Who am I? How am I wired?
How do I communicate?” Because that’s how I judge
everybody else in my world. If I’m seven feet tall, you’re all short. I walk into work every day and wonder
why I work with so many short people. Right? It’s not about you being broken, it’s about me needing a higher level
of self-awareness. So how do I come up with that? Well, I want to share a model with you. One of many that are
available in the world. And I’d just like you
to think about it for a minute, to help you categorize how are you wired, what’s that unique
natural personality that you bring. Think about if it’s more fiery red. You’re determined, competitive, demanding. You love to get things done
and you’re task-oriented, you’re always in go-go-go mode. Is that you? Does that resonate well? You’re always about getting things done. My wife leads with high fiery red. For 27 years, while I’m driving the car,
and the light turns green, she says, “Go!” (Laughter) Every single time. “Go, turn,
turn left, turn right. Go, go, go!” That’s high fiery red.
You’re all about getting stuff done. The shortcut is – do it now. How about sunshine yellow?
Does that resonate better with you? Energy, enthusiasm, karaoke night,
happy hour, life of the party, right? If it’s you, you’re laughing out loud,
because you’re seeing it in yourself. For all of you in fact right now,
think about somebody you work with that’s always telling you
what they’re doing. What they did the night before,
what they had for lunch. What they’re going to do in the afternoon,
what they’re going to do the next day. On and on and on.
Think about someone specific. If you can’t think of anybody,
it’s you. (Laughter) Okay? That’s sunshine yellow energy. It’s energy, it’s enthusiasm. Try and make a decision
for yourself right now. Are you more focused on red energy,
task, getting stuff done, or do you tend to focus more
on that yellow energy, all about people and relationships? Both are extroverted energies,
both are noisy and “talk to think”. Let me talk to the other two for a minute. And actually trying to calm down
and slow down a little bit. To sort of talk in that preferred style. Some of you lead with earth green. You’re amiable, patient, caring, relaxed. You’re brilliant listeners. You listen to see where someone
is going to take you without the need to interrupt in a fiery red way
and get something done, or maybe the need to interrupt
in a sunshine yellow way and make the story about you. The gift of brilliant listening
for what’s said and even what isn’t said falls within that introverted feeling,
amiable caring, earth green. And the last one is introverted thinking,
cool blue, analytical, cautious, precise. You want me to prove
these concepts to you, you’d like to read more about them. You like to study, you like to analyze,
and you like to go deeper. Think for a minute
which one of these is more like you and just share it with people
on your right and left quickly. Which one do you think you lead with?
Go ahead and tell them. (Indistinct talking
and laughter in the audience) Let me illustrate a point for you. Because it speaks to the whole point
that I’m trying to make, which is about awareness,
about being conscious. Realize that if you lead
with sunshine yellow, you quickly told everybody
you could get to. Right? With energy and with enthusiasm,
and you’re sad that I cut you off already. If you lead with red,
you turned to someone and said, “Red”. Why? Because it’s like,
“Now what? Let’s get something done. Now I know. Let’s get something done.” If you lead with earth green,
you were probably a little bit slower and more cautious
to lean to the right or to the left, to invite the person to share
this information with you. If you lead with blue, you’re not sure yet
if that’s the right answer, because you want more time to think
and be structured and be logical. But my point about communication is:
we need to know this about ourselves, we need to be self-aware. Because here’s a risk. What if you overuse these gifts
of communication’s energies? What does it look like
if you overuse them? My wife believes that she’s determined,
strong-willed and purposeful when she tells me how to drive the car. I believe she’s overusing
that gift of red energy, and take a look. I believe she’s aggressive, controlling,
overbearing and intolerant. It’s my perception
of the overuse of that energy. You can overuse all these energies. Overuse that wonderful caring earth green, and you’re docile, bland,
plodding, reliant and stubborn. Bad green, we call it. In fact, we like to say, “Hell hath
no fury like earth green energy scorned”. (Laughter) Some of you lead with that earth green,
you recognize that, right? Overusing your cool blue, thinking too much about something
and not wanting to commit to action. Analysis paralysis — it’s also a risk. And of course, even sunshine yellow
can be taken too far and move to excitable,
frantic, indiscreet, flamboyant, hasty, out of control. So the challenge here in terms
of being self-aware is: how do you know when you’re using
the gift of your personality up to the right level, and do you actually know
when you’ve gone too far? What you may not realize
is that if you’re interacting with someone who leads with your opposite energy, unfortunately, they tend
to see you on this slide. Think about that for a minute. Your opposite energy,
your opposite personality, tends to perceive you in a negative
and you don’t even realize it’s happening. because you’re actually
in the middle of having your best day. It’s why communication gets complicated. Oh no, that’s not funny.
Here’s the funny part. If you’ve put yourself
in one of these quadrants, put your spouse in another one. How many of you think
you married your opposite type? Oh my gosh, what were you
thinking? (Laughter) Opposites actually attract, they do. We’re drawn to somebody
who’s very different than we are, we come together, it feels very whole
and very complete, and we marry them and than we want
to kill them for 40 years. Because they do everything
differently than we do. I want you to think about that spouse
when you go home tonight, think about the energy that they lead with
and treat them that way. Treat them the way
that their energy might suggest. If you think they lead with earth green, give them a hug
for a little longer than normal. If they lead with fiery red,
go home and offer to do a job. If they lead with sunshine yellow,
invite them to happy hour or go out with friends and have some fun. And if they lead with cool blue,
send them a text or email and invite them to do Password
or Sudoku at home tonight. Meet their energy where it is. Think about where you are in the model.
Think about energies that you lead with. Think about your family and your children. This is my family. My wife, I said,
leads with fiery red. My youngest daughter — absolute fiery red,
loves to focus and get things done. I lead with yellow,
so does my oldest daughter. Look at her hat. Energy, enthusiasm. Mine appeared disorganized. That’s the risk
of too much sunshine yellow. And look at my son.
It’s hard to see, but look closely. When we had this little exercise
ten years ago, he said quietly, “Can I wear more than one hat?” And my wife, with hight fiery red,
said, “What? No! Pick a hat.” (Laughter) Maybe in a moment
we became aware and said, “Connor, wear as many hats as you want.” Look closely. He said,
“I’m green, but I’m more blue.” And he actually put two hats on. That’s the uniqueness of personality. It’s the way we gather information
and the way we make decisions and how we show up
in most everything we do. So be aware. The psychology underneath, it is extroverts, introverts,
thinking and feeling. The same psychology, Jungian psychology
that underpins Myers-Briggs or MBTI. Just a brilliant tool
or tools in psychology that helps you access who you are,
how are you wired and what makes you tick. It’s about being aware that this exists so that you can be aware of it
in other people. I’ll let you read this slide, because this is going to happen
as soon as we go to lunch. You’re going to look at each other
and you’re going to see behaviors. Just read it for yourselves. (Laughter) I know, it’s crazy, right? But it’s true.
You do one of these things, don’t you? And one of these things
that other people do makes you crazy. They’re probably your opposite type.
Isn’t it funny how we do it? I should probably have one more
for the person who leans in pretending to hit the “open door” button,
but really hits the “close door”. (Laughter) Maybe that’s bad red, I don’t know. The point behind what I’m saying is, think about how you’re wired
and how you show up in terms of igniting your business
and having more success in that area. How might you contribute,
whatever role that you play? It’s a function of your personality
and where you fit in our model. And if you really want
to expand that impact, then think about it
in terms of leading others. How can you have a greater impact? Because there’s a natural position
you hold within models like this, you’re naturally good at some things
and you struggle harder with other things. Be aware. Be focused. Know yourself.
Know yourself, know other people. Pay attention to other people
as you interact with them, for the purpose of understanding
who they are and how they’re wired. Take actions so that you can move forward, but recognize that when you’re having
trouble with someone else — Here’s a quote from Jung again.
Everything that irritates us about others can lead to a deeper
understanding of ourselves. You’ve kind of heard that theme
from some of the other speakers. If you’re irritated by something
someone else is doing, pause and reflect on why. That’s the question,
like Reece was saying. Why? Why is this happening?
What’s going on? Because very likely, it’s more about you
than about someone else. So in wrapping up for you, pay attention. Be aware. Use your conscious brain
to see who people really are. If you wonder what it feels like, pay attention to your blinking
right now for just a second. Notice your blinking? You’re doing it.
You’re self-aware. It’s that easy. Now tomorrow morning when you’re brushing your teeth
and looking in the mirror, I hope you have a little moment
of self-awareness again. I don’t want you to think of me,
but think about blinking. Look in the mirror and say,
“Wow, I’m aware.” I’m going to be aware
of everybody that I meet today. That’s the plan. Focus on others.
Know your unique personality style. Use whatever model helps you make sense
of you in relationship to others, but notice the otherness of the other. Everyone in here is unique
from everyone else. Everyone brings a gift. Everyone brings a unique personality,
and they’re dying for you to notice it. Just like you are dying to be
communicated with in your preferred style, so is everybody else. Give them that gift, take action,
and make a difference. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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