It’s a question I hear a lot: Why do I need someone to help me with my Giftedness assessment—couldn’t I just take a quiz on my own?
To be honest, it’s a fair question, and the internet is overflowing with personality quizzes, from Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram, all the way to your inner superhero or Disney princess. We’re used to self-diagnosing and then sharing our results as if they were the gold standard to understanding us—what makes Giftedness so different?
First, let’s talk about the nature of an online personality quiz.
We can all agree that those quizzes will vary in depth and level of insight based on how much work went into creating them, but even assuming you purchase your quiz (as I have done), and therefore assume it’s a fairly comprehensive set of questions, there is a significant amount of wiggle room within these quizzes.
Let me explain.
The first time I took a Meyers-Briggs quiz—which, for the record, was paid for—I scored as an EXXX. I hope you’re as confused as I was!
It turns out, the software system didn’t feel comfortable assigning me to any personality traits other than extrovert, which I am to the extreme. All of the other fields were apparently “too close to call.” I ended up retaking that quiz 5 or 6 times, and each time getting a slightly different set of results as I answered the questions slightly differently.
My first foray into the Enneagram told me I was definitely a Type 7. It wasn’t even much of a competition, I scored so highly in that area and so low in all the others.
My first time taking the DISC assessment (also purchased) labeled me as an I, or Influencer.
In a counseling class in seminary, the professor was explaining why online personality quizzes aren’t always the best way to determine someone’s personality.
“It’s simply too easy,” he explained, “for the person taking the test to either misunderstand the question, or to answer the way they wish they would answer.”
Later in that class, he explained the Myers-Briggs personality types, and finally Kevin walked me through a series of questions and showed me that I wasn’t an EXXX, or an ENFP (the Campaigner), as I had ended up self-identifying.
I’m an ESTP (the Entrepreneur). Honestly, not even close!
I did end up retaking the Enneagram quiz multiple times, getting a wide range of answers, and I finally did some research on the types, and listened to friends of mine share what they thought I might be. After months of trying to understand the terminology (what’s a wing, and will it help me fly?) I realized I’m not a 7 (the Enthusiast)—I’m actually an 8 (the Challenger)!
The DISC was my quickest fix. As a part of a leadership training experience, the speaker stood on stage and began dividing the room into quadrants, first by asking us if we were high or low energy, and then if we were people or task focused. I self-identified as high energy, people focused, so I joined the large group of chatty, excited individuals in the corner that he was about to label as an I (Influencer).
But before assigning us our types, he explained the categories, starting with the corner next to me: high energy, task focused:
“You’ve been known to say,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye, “’Go ahead and take the day off, God, I’ll fill in, and do a great job!’”
Those people were D’s, or Dominant, and as he began explaining that the partiers I had been hanging out with cared more about having fun than getting the task done—with excellence!—I realized I had made a terrible mistake.
Luckily, fixing this particular mistake was as simple as crossing corners of the room, and joining the group of people with whom I could easily have plotted to take over the world.
It’s most interesting to me, looking back at these misidentified personalities, that I always seem to score myself into more of the free-spirited, fun-focused types.
It’s almost like I wish that’s who I was.
Now, to be fair, my dad is that personality type—the life of the party, adrenaline junkie. He was (and still is!) an incredibly fun dad, and most of my favorite memories involve late night adventures to get donuts, and then sneaking back into the house after destroying all the evidence. I have always looked up to my dad with great respect, so it doesn’t seem crazy to me that, as I was trying to figure out who I am, his fingerprints were all over my answers.
But, at the end of the day, that’s not who I really am.
The process for identifying your Giftedness isn’t as quick as a 15 minute quiz.
First, we ask you to think through your whole life, and write down stories where you felt proud of yourself. These don’t have to be stories where other people said they were proud of you—maybe at an awards ceremony or the like—but where you felt proud of yourself.
One of my stories was from a book report I completed on my first day of school in first grade. I carefully wrote out the words, “I liked it,” and drew a picture of the main character (I actually drew the picture 4 or 5 times, because I wanted to make sure it was perfect).
Was this book report something that my mom framed on the fridge? Uh, no. My teacher wasn’t even that impressed with it. But I worked really hard on it, and even to this day, I look back on that memory with pride, because I did it all by myself, and for little first grade Natalie, it was an incredibly difficult assignment.
We also generally ask you not to include awards you’ve won where you didn’t feel particularly proud. For example, not long after that memorable book report, I won an award at the same school for being a student who “showed artistic promise.”
The prize was a gift basket of art supplies—something I was very excited to use!—but I didn’t feel like I had done anything to earn it, so I didn’t include that on my list of stories.
After you’ve written down as many stories as you can think of, we ask you to go back and select the top 8, and to further flesh them out. The point of this exercise is to get the juices flowing around these stories—what exactly did you do? How did you do it? Why did that make you feel proud? Once you turn in the form with the written stories, Kevin sits down with you (virtually, during the pandemic), and starts asking you questions about them, generally questions like, what exactly did you do? How did you do it? Why did that make you feel proud?
The key, here, is to see you in action!
He records the whole thing, and then goes back and analyzes your answers, picking out phrases and experiences you repeat, and cross referencing them to his Giftedness database (SIMA International).
My stories all had some pretty clear themes: they showcased me on stage, performing, or being used as an example in class. There were several stories of me helping downcast friends, and there were many, many stories of me being in a key leadership position.
My three top lines are Gain Response, Meet Needs, and Be in Charge.
I am absolutely certain that if I had taken an online quiz to figure that out, I would have scored somewhere along the lines of Be the Life of the Party, but Don’t Rock the Boat Too Much While Doing It.
Ok, ok, that’s a not a real option.
But, all joking aside, the reason this method works is because you aren’t presented with binary questions like, “Would you rather go out with friends or stay home with a book?”
Personally, the answer to that—even as a raging extrovert!—is always, it depends. It depends on the friends and the book, where we’re going, how late we’ll stay out. I’m usually down for pizza, but I’m rarely down for a movie (why would I spend $20 just so I can’t talk to people??).
The Giftedness assessment allows us to see you in action, at your best, and rather than put you in a stressful situation where all the answers are correct (or incorrect), it allows you to demonstrate your strengths on your own terms.
You’re not a robot. You’re going to want different things at different seasons.
So let’s cut past all of those binary questions with no right answers, and get to know the real you.