A Time to Assess

In-Service Training (IST) is a time when Peace Corps volunteers and their counterparts can come together from around Ukraine. It is a very important time for the growth of synergy between this intercultural partnership. This is also a great time for new friendships and partnership to form.

When I first spoke with my lead specialist about speaking at the IST I told him that I would be comfortable speaking about whatever he would like. However, I also told him that he has a wealth of knowledge within our community development collective. Luckily, he had already began reaching out to my colleagues to begin the process of putting together a list of presenters which would make this IST spectacular.

My presentation was on the first day of the training and involved an overview of an Organizational Capacity Assessment form. But, before I facilitated a constructed dialog about this topic I spoke to the group in a “TED talk” style.

I began by tell them that over next few minutes I would be examining the importance of self and organizational assessments. Over this time I was going to ask for their participation at times in order to reflect on the current situations of themselves and their organization. Nevertheless, I also began with a story about a young man whose life was changed forever by a unique sequence of events.

This story began nearly a century ago with a man named Carl Jung. This man was a renowned Swiss psychiatrist, and is still seen by many, along with Sigmund Freud, as one of the founding fathers of modern-day psychology. His theory of psychological types proposes that people are innately different, both in terms of the way they see the world and take in information, and how they make decisions.

 

The next character in this story was Katharine Briggs. This woman start researching personality type theory after she first met her daughters future husband, Clarence Myers. While Clarence was a very eligible match for her daughter, Katharine noticed that he had a different way of seeing the world to her and her family, and was intrigued enough to start an extensive literature review based on understanding different temperaments.

It was shortly after Carl Jung’s publication of Psychological Types in 1921 that Katharine realized how closely his theories resembled hers, and how much more developed they were. Expanding on his theories, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire was first published in 1943 by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers.

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Myers and Briggs concluded that there were 16 different personality types. Each type analyzed a person’s overall score to the questionnaire as they correlate to these four areas.  Where you focus your attention – Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I). The way you take in information – Sensing (S) or INtuition (N). How you make decisions – Thinking (T) or Feeling (F). How you deal with the world – Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). The four letters that make up your personality type can help you to understand yourself and your interactions with others.

This questionnaire would be later used by millions across the world to decipher their individual personality types. However, the MBTI was first sent into world distribution by the Oxford Psychologists Press (OPP) in 1989. That same year the young man which this story is about was born.

I told them the main character in this story was born into a single family. His mother raised him and his two brothers the best she knew how. She cleaned homes after she shuffled her kids off to school each day in order to provide food in their stomachs and a roof over their heads.

If they didn’t figure it out by them, I explained that this young man from the story was me. And, at a young age I had no direction in my life. It was tough for me to find his identity with no father figure around. As a teenager until adolescence I did not care much for anything other than parties and having fun.

At the age of 22, I was introduced to the MBTI questionnaire (and have taken it about 5 times since then). Each time, my results came up INTP. I sat down with my mentor after taking this test and discussed these results. He explained that although this assessment may not define exactly who you are, I know had an understanding of my strengths and weaknesses.

At this point all I needed was some direction. Shortly after this questionnaire I set goals in my life. Within 6 months I started my first business. Within 3 years I was working on a strategic plan for the US State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. And, within four years I am giving a presentation in Ukraine to a group of Peace Corps Volunteers and their Ukrainian Counterparts.

I told this story because it is not just me who decided to make a change in their life at some point. At this point we look at some comparison picture of leaders before they became great.

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I explained that all of those people made the choice to change something about themselves and at one point they decided they will be great. We all have that power inside of us and we all have the opportunity to assess our strengths and tell ourselves that we will not be satisfied with normal!

The climax of the presentation was when I illuminated the fact it is vital for each one of them to comprehend that analyzing and understanding our personal strength and weaknesses is the key to personal growth. Likewise, it was vital for each one of them to comprehend that analyzing and understanding their Organization’s strength and weaknesses is also the key to growth.

Like the pictures of the famous people before, I showed before and after pictures of great companies. And, I guaranteed that since their conception these companies have been, and are, assessing their strengths and weaknesses.

In closing, I took the group of 60 participants through two more visual exercises.

First, I told them all to close their eyes. I said they needed to imagine a broken sink and they needed to fix it. I wanted them to picture the tools they would use to fix the sink. They needed to put one of those tools into their hand. This tool represented an object you could use to resolve their problem.

Lastly, I indicated that I had some good news for them. That is, an Organizational Capacity Assessment can be one of those tools which could help their organization adjust to change. And, if they hadn’t done so already, I encouraged them to work together in order to analyze your organization.

I ended with the words. Change is not easy, but we can make it a little easier.

There were many great presenters of the last four days. My lead specialist and colleagues did an amazing job. I am proud of each one of each one of them. It makes me think were me and my friends will be in 10 years. I know it will be great.

*These are the thoughts of Richard J. Roman and are not a direct reflection of the ideas of the Peace Corps or its affiliates. 

 

 

 

 

 

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