Have you ever looked through a kaleidoscope? Maybe as a child? If so, you’ll recall that as you peep through the eye hole into its drum and gently turn the end segment, a multitude of brightly coloured “gems” meet your gaze, with their patterns slowly changing with each turn. It is fascinating and compels the gazer to keep turning, knowing a marvellously different set of colours and patterns will appear at each shift of the mechanism.
The huge variations in us as human beings, in the biodiversity around us and in the vast universe of which we are a part are mirrored in a minuscule way by a kaleidoscope. Details as apparently insignificant as no two snowflakes being the same, (a fact first discovered by Wilson Bentley as he examined thousands of snowflakes in the 1800s), or that many botanists, including Carl Linnaeus, often seen as the founder of the scientific classification system, only found similarities with plants, and no two ever identical. Or, on a grand scale, the Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light-years across (that’s six trillion miles x 100,000), and there are estimated to be about 350,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe. And none of those will be the same.
We live in a magnificently varied and wonderful world, with infinite variety all around us. It is no wonder then that each of us is unique, with our own set of talents and abilities, passions and dislikes, character traits and personalities. This should make each of us feel great about ourselves…there is no one else quite like you; you are the only one with your unique and complex mix of abilities and character and only you can fulfil the role you have in life. However, the fact that we are not clones, and are all so wonderfully different, can bring challenges, when it comes to working together as well as its strengths, to the same end.
To help employers hire the best mix of staff to create stunning and unique products handmade in the UK there are various personality tests which can be used to assess individuals and hence ensure a team works well together, to their best strengths. As crafters with small businesses, knowing personality types could be a help not only in employing staff but in allocating roles within your business as it and they develop.
It can also be helpful to have some insight into the wide variety of personalities you may encounter at craft fairs, demonstrations or workshops. Human nature is deeply fascinating and understanding a little about how we interact can both prevent fallouts and also enable us to get the best out of our team members, audience and workshop participants. Of course, we need to start with ourselves first, and becoming more self-aware will help us in many areas of our lives, including our relationships and the decisions we make.
As crafters, we produce a huge variety of products handmade in the UK and our unique creativity and personality will shine through each of these. The next step is to promote these amazing products, and understanding a little more about yourself can prompt you in the best direction for marketing strategies. A personality test which is much in use today is DISC. This is an acronym, with D standing for dominance, I for Influence, S for support and C for compliance or conscientiousness. A quick look on the internet reveals that many companies both offer and use DISC and that as there is infinite variety in our personalities, so there is some variety in how test results are both categorised and interpreted. It is possible to do this test online, but also a thoughtful self-study of the categories will illuminate some character traits of ourselves and others around us. Most of us will have elements of our personalities fall in all four categories but with more landing in one or two.
For example, a dominant personality (green or red zone) will generally be firm, direct and strong-willed. In a work situation, this person might be the most results-driven of the team, will push others forward and take risks but may also be impatient and not that aware of the needs of the rest of the team. Someone whose personality falls mostly in the I category (yellow zone) will be outgoing, enthusiastic and optimistic. They are often the visionaries, with ideas to bring your business forward and the optimism to help you over the hurdles. However, they might need to partner with someone whose feet are firmly on the ground! An S (green zone) is a supportive or steadying person who is a great team player, empathetic, calm and a good collaborator. They may be indecisive though and as they are often overly accommodating might need to be encouraged to express their own needs and opinions. Finally, a C (blue zone) conscientious person will be precise and analytical at work. They may be somewhat reserved but will be good at checking on detail and working systematically.
As we saw at the beginning, we are all so vastly unique and different that it is an oversimplification to put ourselves, our clients and our employees into one of four categories. DISC does not account for physical attributes (these may be very important in a craft which requires physical strength and endurance) or our spirituality (which will be shown in how we view and understand the world around us). However, a fuller understanding of our own and others’ personalities using DISC will help in our businesses and our lives in general.
Maybe we could consider our team and customers to be like a thoughtfully stitched-together patchwork quilt. Each of us is beautifully and wildly different with an infinite variety of combinations and talents, strengths and abilities as we work together to produce and enjoy stunning and unique craft items, handmade in the UK.