Understanding personality provides insight into how to best enhance your strengths and complement your weaknesses. While personality is more static, energy levels can fluctuate - negative energy can be catabolic and positive energy can help you and others grow. Reading and references: Predictably Irrational, Atomic Habits, Energy Leadership, Think Like a Monk.
Welcome back to operate with the first few podcasts were foundational in nature, they gave us a basis of understanding time space routine, and our physical, mental and emotional selves. Our future podcasts are going to include one or more of those foundational topics and hopefully enhance our ability to master another facet of our surgical life. In this episode, we're going to focus on understanding our personality, in order to maximize productive energy, in our career, in surgery and in life. So we're gonna start by understanding personality, and in general, there are, quote, unquote, the big five personality traits and this are typically broken down into openness of experience, which can be defined as kind of the curious or inventive as compared to the cautious or consistent. conscientious is the second, which compares organized and efficient to easygoing or spontaneous people. The third is introversion versus extraversion. The fourth is agreeableness which is typically friendly or compassionate as compared to challenging or detached. And then the last big personality trait is typically considered neuroticism, which compares anxious or sensitive people to the confident, calm or stable. And there is certainly biology related to each of these personality traits. Some of it is certainly heritable. Some of it certainly come from the environments we grow up in. And what you'll see in some of the literature is that agreeableness in particular, is associated with high natural oxytocin levels doesn't mean if you have low oxytocin levels, you are not an agreeable person. In addition, neuroticism has been associated with hypersensitivity of the amygdala just to provide some scientific background here. But just as in any of the biologies or diseases we treat biology does not necessarily determine destiny, and we just need to be aware of that. Now, interestingly, and I want you to think about this, as we move forward through descriptions of personality, we have kind of our baseline personality, but a lot of us have, as surgeons also have a surgical personality, which may or may not coincide exactly with our normal everyday social personality. And I think this much more reflects the way we were trained and brought up. For instance, we may not be a neurotic person in life, but when it comes to the management of our surgical patients, and our operating rooms, we can be very neurotic. And sometimes we're not. And so I think it's just important to consider that while your personality is typically not modifiable, and your your baseline personality, that some of our surgical traits, and tasks and personality, personality traits may be modifiable. So just food for thought as we move on. So there are lots of ways to classify personalities. And there are lots of ways to test those. You can do simple introversion versus extraversion exercises. There are five factor personality tests. Classically, people are assigned a Myers Briggs personality test, or the new one is the inia Graham. And I've done a number of them I'll share with you mine so in my Myers Briggs, I end up being an E and TP extrovert, intuitive. Thinking and perceiving which coincides with an inventive, enthusiastic, strategic, enterprising, inquisitive or versatile personality. I enjoy new ideas and challenges, and I value inspiration but the negative and the other important part of knowing your personality is where the positives but also what are the negatives. And one of the negatives of my personality type is that I often fail to complete one task before moving on to the next. And that is very true of my personality and my personality type. And being aware of that has helped me plan out the academic projects, clinical projects, and make sure that I'm finishing tasks or taking tests to completion before moving on to the next in my enneagram which is available on Trudi COMM And, and other places. I am a pretty fair split between a type one and type eight person which means I am a perfectionist and a challenger, which means that I have a lot of emphasis on following the rules and doing things correctly, but also stand stand up for what I believe in which I think also accurately describes myself. And I think there are strengths and weaknesses to every personality type and the key is really understood Getting what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are. And then how do we complement those by the people, we surround ourselves and our working environment. And we'll get more into this. But in general, personality is not something you're going to have a lot of wiggle room on, you can't really change your personality, that's who you are. So it is important to understand what you're really good at what you're not good at. And one of the examples of this is the for foreigners of Hinduism, which is the basis for the caste system, right, there's the there are, the Brahmins are the priests, there are the warrior class, the merchant or craftsmen class. And then the unskilled worker class, which are all above that the Dalits are The Untouchables. And the principles of that is that society cannot exist without all types of people, and that there are certainly complimentary roles. And complementary roles facilitate progress in society, just as they can facilitate roles in, in a hospital or in a surgical setting. The key here, in 2021, as it has been forever is that each role is as important as the other. And there's the false hood to the to the thought that one rank is better than the other one, personality is better than the other. And the concept here is really, that you can make yourself or someone else better by complementing each other. And we'd all love to work with people that we are similar to, right, it makes us feel good. We all move in kind of the same general speed and direction, but it doesn't necessarily create the most productive environment. For instance, I am a especially when doing research, I am a big picture person, I'm good at taking lots of little details in and pulling out the big picture and coming up with conclusions. I am much better complimented and I try to fill in my research team with people who are very detail oriented, and get to make sure that I'm not going to miss the details when looking at the big picture. The other place we routinely see this is when we select our surgical career or a surgical specialty. And I talk to medical students a lot. And the first big choice is always a decision between medicine or surgery. breaking that down simply if you love the operating room, neurosurgeon. And then honestly a lot for a lot of us the choice of the kind of surgery were was based on personality and who we got along with the people that were like us like the things that we liked. We each like different levels of diagnosis, or diagnostic treatments versus therapeutic treatments. We have different interests in pathology versus physiology, we have different levels of interest in anatomy, and deconstruction versus reconstructive surgeries. But we also see personality traits like introversion or extroversion, neuroticism that also impact our decision to go into the surgical field we do. So understand who makes you better understand who complements your weaknesses and enhances your strengths. And the other really important part of this is honor those who do well what you do not. Right, this is, when we talked about Dharma in the self, kind of podcast, we talked about honoring those who do really well what we do not. And this is a way to compliment them and get the best out of every one. And not only do we want to think how our personality fits with others individually, but how does this fit into a work structure? How does this fit into a corporate entity? And the or how does this fit into a surgical team? How does this fit into a medical practice? How does this build into a urology department or program or a private practice group and you want to not only complement each other with skill sets, right? We want urologists, or or surgeon in general who deal with cancer and benign diseases and reconstructive surgeries are right, pediatrics and adult. But we also want people who are really strong administrators, we want people who are really strong leaders, we want really strong workhorses. And putting all of those together really can kind of help complement and make a strong, strong entity. So recognizing that our personality is relatively fixed. how we interact with others depends not only on a personality, but our energy. And energy is something we do have control over or more control over something we can kind of modulate and One of the metaphors I love Here comes from physics. And if we think of the classic evolution of physics, you start with Newtonian physics where the world is made of matter. Everything is separate from another. And one, one action is met by an equal or opposite reaction, and the social kind of metaphors, that each person is separate from everything else. And then we get to relativity and quantum theory, right, this is Einstein born Planck. And now all of a sudden energy and matter are intertwined. We're not exactly what we appear to be. And we certainly can change the way we interact by providing more energy or more emotion. And lastly, in the most contemporary settings, and most contemporary evolution of physics is now string theory. This was kind of initiated by Heisenberg and then Michio Kaku is kind of credited with with modern string theory. And now, what initially appears to be solid is actually vibrating and moving all of the time. And at its core, everything is pure energy. So just like that we are pure energy, we manifest energy. And our behaviors are not only determined by the external forces, but those internal energies within us. And this concept is put forth in a really interesting read, and concept called energy leadership by Bruce Schneider. And conceptually, it's a little bit hard to get into. And if you like this, I certainly would recommend reading it. But the basic concept is that everyone has energy that vibrates or resonates at a different rate. And Dr. Schneider rates those energy levels from one to seven. And a person's energy levels increase as a person becomes more conscious or more present, or more purposeful. And the first two energy levels are generally negative energy levels. And as energy levels increase, they become more positive. And the more positive our energy level, the more energy in general we have available to be used. But it's also important to recognize, and we can exist in multiple states at once. For instance, you may have a different energy level in your professional setting than you may in your home setting, you may have a different energy setting in the operating room than you do in your clinic. But recognizing those energy levels, and trying to move them up the scale is important. Now, if you look at the scale that he puts forth, basically energy levels one and two are negative energy levels, they are in general, catabolic or destructive. Whereas energy levels three, four and five are positive, they they help evoke positive behaviors, they are anabolic, were six and seven are almost transcendental monk like energy levels. And the goal is not necessarily for everybody to reach a monk like energy status or stay there. But to really be the way I interpreted is out of the one into catabolic levels. And really a nice metaphor he puts forward to try and understand these energy levels, is if you think about winning and losing. So if you think about being focused on losing, or the negative, I lose, or you lose your energy levels, and one or two, you're focused on the loss, where energy levels three, four and five, you're thinking about how how winning occurs, one of us, or both of us win, that's a positive step forward in terms of winning and losing. And to get to the transcendental or the transcendental level six and seven, everyone is a winner, or winning and losing are really illusions, it's not important to, to who we are. And I would say listen, it's not important to strive for six or seven. But it is certainly important to cross from the threshold from those level energy levels one and two, which are negative to energy levels three or higher. And so when we think about energy levels, one and two, which are really catabolic, as an individual, as a leader, as an organization, if we're catabolic, we're breaking down ourselves, our organization, our institution. And what you see for some of those characteristics, these are people who are more interested in control than they necessarily are in outcome, they often have a negative impression. I think one of the winning losing analogies here is is for for them to win, someone else must lose. They can be micromanagers they fail to give credit to others. They're often short sighted, and may may rely on short term gains like finances rather than than long term goals of a department or an institution or an outcome and we You can see this as surgeons and physicians, we certainly know colleagues. And we certainly have all been in the situation where we were very focused on short term gains, and failed to look at long term outcomes, whether that's in the operating room or in our careers, or in our interactions with others. So to get to a more positive or creative, anabolic level, we want to inspire and motivate whether that's ourselves, our colleagues, our institution, we want to look for solutions, not problems, we want to focus on logic rather than emotion, which tends to be negative emotion. Just like we talked about in the self. podcast, we want to focus on purpose, we want to focus on opportunities, and the ability to be powerful and inspiring, and capitalize on every opportunity that we're giving given a chance to do. And I think one of the really interesting concepts put forward is a way to kind of get over the mindset of dealing with problems is that instead of thinking about problems, think about opportunities and solutions. And there's this concept of holographic thinking, which is available as energy levels increase, where basically, instead of seeing a problem, and a solution, you recognize that all problems have a solution. And so if you can kind of see that something is going to move forward from negative to positive and think in a holographic fashion, it allows you to take some of the anxiety out of out of a tough situation or a problematic situation, and recognize that you may not have the solution today, you may not recognize that opportunity in the moment, but at some point, you're going to achieve a good outcome or turn that around. And energetic buying is really important for us, not only as individuals was as we work in medical institutions, right? job satisfaction is a highly emotional issue. And particularly in today's Medical Society, we know that our emotions in the way we're treated often get in, are involved in the way we interact. And we produce. And when people are connected emotionally, to their institution, to their colleagues, they're more engaged, they're more focused, they're more productive. And Bruce Schneider says in his book, that intention is the crux of commitment, commitment is equal to the level of engagement. So the more we engage each other, the more we commit to each other, the more intentional we are, as we approach each other, and drive those energy levels up, we can do better as a group. Now this was said differently by jack welch, who is the former CEO of GE, he who famously said you could always improve your workforce if you fire the worst 10% every year. And he's not wrong in saying that, but didn't make a lot of friends. But he's kind of credited with coming up with another binary matrix that maps out performance and values, right. So you have high performance, low performance, high values, low values. And this talks about the people we want to work with, and the people we want to be in an institution. So it's really easy, we all want to be and want to work with people who are high performers, and who have high values. These are competent, outstanding people. There, there are our best colleagues at work. It's also really easy to recognize low performance, low value people. These are your incompetent angels, for lack of a better term, and these are people you want to get rid of. And not only do you want to get rid of, it's fun to get rid of them. Right? It makes sense. They're not fun to be with, they don't produce well, easy to get rid of. But where the real challenge is, is when you have incongruence. So when you have high performing, but low values, you have a competent aihole. And this is where we struggle, because these are highly productive people for us. But they bring down kind of the group and they can bring down a group dynamic. And on the other side, you have people who have high values, they're great people to work with, but they may not be as productive as some others. The opportunity lies in high value low performance people because you can coach them, you can make them better, you can make them perform better. Whereas it's highly unlikely that you're going to be able to remediate the high performer who has low who whose values don't align with the situation you're in. And that's really a struggle to get rid of a person or to work with a person who's a high performer, but really brings a lot of negative energy to the table. What you really have to think about is, is this person a net positive or net negative for your group, for your partnership for your practice. Now, we went through the whole jack welch exercise in the third person talking about others. But it's really important to consider this binary matrix in the first person, where do we fit in? We all want to be high performing high value contributors. But we may not always be there. And we need to make sure that if we are performing well, that our values and our energies align well. Or if we have high energy and values, but we're not performing as well as we could, how can we ask for help? Or how can we get to that next level, so that we can get into that area we are where we are both productive, and a high value asset to our colleagues, or loved ones, at home, or in whatever situation it may be. And when we think about how to improve a practice, improve ourselves based on personality and energy, one of the best ways to do that is to build a build identity, right. And we talked about this a little bit in self. But I think this is said really well in the book, atomic habits by James clear, where you want to be the type of you don't want to be the type of person who wants something, you want to be the type of person who is something. And I think the the analogy he gives in the book is talking about kind of weight loss or health. So you don't want to be someone who loses weight, or wants to lose weight, you want to be a person who is healthy, who is skinny or skinnier. And by that simple change in thought of being that person rather than wanting to be that person, it's much easier to create behaviors that lead to success. This is also substantiated and find your why by Simon Sinek, where he talks about how we transition from the what to the How to the why, as we create identity, and how physiologically that transfers from our neocortex to our limbic brain, from our thoughtful processes to our automatic neural processes. Identity conflict, not knowing who you are as an individual and institution or in society is a huge barrier to positive change. And, as we talked about, in a lot of the early chapters about routine, and time and location, repeated behavior can reinforce identity. And we can build these things in as we transition from system to system one learning, as we build good habits, and even small changes will reinforce an identity. Now we all love to say, you know, today is terrible. This is death by 1000 cuts. And we think about things going negatively in very small incremental steps. But we can also do the opposite of that we can have serious positive change by small incremental positive moods. And when we think about institutional and individual identity, they really do support each other men, there's some interesting data to support this. So if you look at obese people, obese, obesity is 57%. More likely, if you have a friend who is obese. On the flip side, if your friend loses weight, you are 33% more likely to lose weight. Interestingly, your best friend's IQ, when you are age 11, or 12, is associated with your IQ later in life. Speaking to the fact that we we really are social creatures, and we really do depend on each other for behaviors. And in medicine, what we see is one of the most effective ways to build better habits is to be in a culture where that behavior is the norm. So in medicine, we're altruistic. We want to help people, we want to perform well, particularly in surgery. And so building that culture as an individual and as it helps the institution, and as a leader, building institution will help grow your individuals. And this is really manifest in our collective personality and energy, positive energy, cohesive personalities really can make a strong culture. On the flip side, negative energy, this cohesive personalities can really bring down a culture. And I'm sure many people listening have been in that situation at one time or another, or maybe in that situation right now. Motivation is really sustained by being a part of a group. That's who we are. We're a tribal, societal animal. And by being part of that group, we can do well We often want to fit in, that's part of our psyche. And we are not as discriminating as we hope we would be, we will fit into a negative culture just as readily as we will fit into a positive culture. Once we fit in and we feel comfortable, then we look for ways to stand out and be different. But really the first instinct is typically to to fit in. So how do you find that right fit as an individual? Well, there's a couple of concepts to do that one of them is classically in business to kind of the Explore exploit, which is otherwise try it until you get it right. If something's not working, get rid of it. And this is what a lot of us do on a routine basis, we we tweak our clinic templates, we tweak our our schedule, until we find things that work for us efficiently. And the key is, I would say, working at this being intentional about it not being at the whim of hospital or or administrators or whoever it is, it's we should be focused on how we can be more efficient, how we can be better how we can drive good energy. And it's not just about driving good or positive energy, but it's making sure it's the right fit the right energy that complements our personality and who we are. And sometimes that's easier said than done. But in atomic habits, James clear gifts, three questions, we should be asking ourselves to find if whatever we're pursuing is really the right fit. The first is can you handle the pain better than most, and everyone in medicine, every specialty, every field, every provider has some pain associated with their career, whether it's paperwork, or the EMR, or the tough diagnoses that we don't like seeing. But if you can handle that pain better than most, you're likely in the right fit in the right situation. Second is can you enter a flow state right? Can you lose track of time, and just perform and become mindless in what you're doing. And if you can, then you're probably also in a good situation. And the last is that something that's right fit should support your sense of self, it should feel authentic, and genuine. And a great example is me in this podcast, this feels really authentic and genuine To me, it's fun to sit here and talk and think through these things, and put these discussions together. And so finding the right fit allows us to handle the pain, lose track of time or flow and feel authentic and genuine. It allows us to take our personality, and maximize productive energy with who we are. So to wrap up this episode, to best understand our personality and energy and how that fits in into our identity and our productivity, we first need to understand who we are our strengths and our weaknesses. Recognizing that our personality is pretty static, we are who we are, we can make some modifications to that. And because of that, we want to seek out those who contrast and enhance us. Lastly, we have a lot of control over our energy levels and we should be striving for positive energy. We should strive to be anabolic creators, leaders. And we can craft the combination of our personality and energy to fit productive models at work in life, how we interact with each other in hospital settings and clinic settings in the operating room within our individual teams. Thanks again for listening and forward to talk with you.