The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicators list 16 personality types. If you’ve never taken this assessment (or profile, or whatever you’d like to call it), you really should. I’ve taken it a few times, always with the same result, INFJ.
Personality profiles first appeared in the 1920’s according to experts. One of the first profiles I was ever exposed to was Meyers-Briggs. Today, it’s a fairly crowded field with lots of specialities.
StrengthsFinder was a book, with an online assessment, released back in 2007. It was a terrific, yet simple book. And the assessment proved to be quite worthwhile for all kinds of organizations across all kinds of industries. From hardcore businesses to education, many found the StrengthsFinder profile useful in hiring and developing people. Today, Gallup has developed an entire industry around it. For about $10 you can discover your top 5 strengths. For about $90 you can discover all 34.
DISC is another popular assessment. This profile has found pretty wide acceptance. I’d put it more in direct competition with the Meyers-Briggs, while the StrengthsFinder is really a different breed altogether. DISC and Meyers-Briggs are in the family of personality profiles. StrengthsFinder is aimed more for discovering…strengths. Duh.
These are the 3 assessments that I’m most familiar with, but there are others. Many of them have a specific purpose. For instance, there are assessments aimed at revealing how capable a person might be in sales. I suppose if you looked hard enough you could find an assessment targeted to help organizations and industries with precise information ranging from leadership to math comprehensive. Don’t mistake these assessments with proficiency tests. They’re different animals.
Proficiency tests are designed to show a person’s existing competency. How many words can a person type error free? What’s the extent of somebody’s medical vocabulary? How proficient is a person in writing PHP code? If you think the personality or communication style assessment field is crowded, the proficiency exam field dwarfs it.
I can’t tell you the exact name of the proficiency exams I’ve taken because I think I’ve only taken 2 in my life. One was in the early years, when I was quite young. The other was just a few years ago. I don’t think they were the same one, but they both took aim at the same thing – a person’s ability to sell. I failed both. I think. 😀
I didn’t much care about either one really. The one I took early on was while I was working as a sales guy. I was the top guy where I was working. Clearly, I felt like they got it wrong.
The other one was a more conscious effort. I mean, I knew exactly what they were looking for, and I knew I wasn’t going to answer the way they’d want. For a split second I thought about bluffing it, but then I thought better of it. I figured it’d be better if I remained true to myself. So I answered honestly and my instincts proved true once again.
And there it is. My INFJ coming through loud and clear. As usual.
INFJ? What is that?
It means I’m special. I’m a one-percenter. That means I’m really, really special.
I’m not saying superior. That’s up for very serious – or perhaps laughable – debate!
I’m unique. Not in that way that we’re all unique. I’m rare. Which I guess makes me a freak.
According to the website, 16Personalities.com…
The INFJ personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population, but they nonetheless leave their mark on the world. As Diplomats (NF), they have an inborn sense of idealism and morality, but what sets them apart is the accompanying Judging (J) trait – INFJs are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact.”
Years ago when I first took the Meyers-Briggs assessment I didn’t feel special. I did feel freakish. Crazy even. Well, not certifiably, but crazy none the less.
From the time I was very young I felt oddly different. Contemplative. Sober. Introspective. Even today the feeling remains much as it did when I was in kindergarten. One phrase that typifies the feeling as well as anything is, “Hard to put your finger on…”
I feel like I’ve spent my life trying to put my finger on things. Others might be driven to put their foot down. Or to put a thumb up. Or down. Not me. I’m always trying to put my finger on things.
See, I told you I was a freak. I just didn’t know how freakish I was until some years ago when I began to read about that 1%. Everywhere you can read about the personality types you run across the INFJ as being rare. 1% rare.
And I always said the same thing I say today, “Just my luck.”
INFJs tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.”
Some years ago I launched a quest not unlike other quests I had launched. Self-discovery. I read some work by Dan Sullivan, The Strategic Coach. Specifically, I read Unique Ability: Creating The Life You Want. It was intriguing stuff.
Taking these profiles, reading, writing, sketching…and anything else I can do in the name of self-discovery…has always proven worthwhile for me. I’m not saying it helps me. But I do enjoy the process. I can relate to Nick Saban’s affection for “the process” big time. Can you?
Proof that I’ll jump on any tool that claims to peel back a bit about who we are and why we lean one way or the other, I ran across a marketing profile by Perry Marshall. Perry is a guy I’ve followed for years. He’s the definitive expert on Google Adwords, but he’s also got some strong marketing DNA that I respect and can relate to.
His assessment confirmed what I already knew was true – and one reason I was always a high achiever in selling, even though I had failed two sales profiles. EMPATHY.
Keep in mind, I began my career selling in the early 1970’s. It was old school, hard close selling days. Even then, I excelled. I walked my own path. Some confused my empathy with selling the way I’d like to be sold, but that was exactly the opposite of what I was doing. And what I still do. I worked to sell to people the way THEY wanted to be sold.
I wasn’t shy. I never had problems talking with people. But I never sold anything I didn’t believe in. Really believe in.
Back to the Unique Ability® book and the recommendations it made.
This was about 5 years ago, shortly after I stepped down from running a company for almost 20 years. It was a weird time. Identity changing. It was just another time of self-examination for me. I’d had many others, but I was looking for some new methodologies. Dan Sullivan’s work provided them.
One of the suggestions of the book came in chapter 2 – The Unique Ability® Discovery Process.
The Unique Ability Question takes the form of a letter or email that you’ll send to people you trust, inviting them to give you feedback about your Unique Ability.”
The book advised me to send a letter or an email to eight to ten people whose opinions I respect and people I knew well. Okay.
I sat down and wrote an email. The book gave me a couple of templates. I used those, but devised my own version. I thought about the people I might send it to. Eight to ten? How about two? Nope. Eight to ten. Well, I didn’t comply. Being the contrarian that I am wont to be, I struggled to come up with 6 people. Six people I was willing to approach.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have 8 to 10 people whose opinions I trusted and people I knew well. Maybe I wasn’t willing to be so forthcoming with that many people. I don’t know. But I sent 6 emails.
And waited some more.
And got one response from a friend who wasn’t quite sure how he should respond. But I was grateful for his effort.
I knew it was an odd request. I even said so in the email, but I told them I was including them in my journey to figure out where my strengths were. I was transparent about the whole thing explaining that I was going through a professional transition.
The crickets chirped even louder. Nothing.
By now I was feeling worse. Thanks, Dan. Even my friends weren’t helping me. Nobody else – none of the other 5 – responded. It was as though they had conspired to remain silent in hopes I wouldn’t remember I had asked them to do something so personal.
I never spoke of it with any of them. I did send a “thank you” email to the lone respondent. We all forgot about it and moved on with our lives.
I endured this beating of self-discovery unsuccessfully for a few months, then got busy with life. Thankfully. I enjoyed “the process” even if it failed to garner any meaningful results. Now, it was time to move on. I can’t stand spending too much time in self-indulgent behavior anyway.
Other than an occasional jaunt – like Perry Marshall’s marketing DNA profile – I haven’t embarked on any systematic approach to discover more.
Until a few months ago when a close friend attended an extensive seminar about Meyers-Briggs. He had no prior exposure to it. After spending a few days with experts who explained the science and benefits he was sold. Lock, stock and smoking barrel. Or is it, hook, line and sinker? He thought it was great stuff.
He couldn’t wait to tell me about it. I confirmed that I knew about it, but admitted I didn’t know all the nuances of it. And I didn’t. Still don’t.
I did know I was exceptionally rare. A dodo bird of sorts. But I didn’t admit that. He tried to figure out what I was. I kept pretty quiet about it. Not out of shame. Or guilt. Or a sense of supremacy. Mostly out of ignorance. I really didn’t fully understand what it all meant. I knew I had taken it repeatedly and the results had always been the same. And I knew my profile was rare. But you could have shot me up with truth serum and I couldn’t have told you my profile was INFJ. So I wasn’t lying when I told my buddy, “I don’t remember what my profile is.”
As the days wore on and my buddy continued his zest for the power of the Meyers-Briggs assessment, I decided to pull out my own profile for a closer look.
Hello, INFJ. Good to meet you. Explain yourself.
Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists INFJs gravitate toward such a role are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power.
INFJs are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden. They often are found in the wake of an emergency, rescuing those who are in acute distress. INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimize the defenseless. The concept of ‘poetic justice’ is appealing to the INFJ.
“There’s something rotten in Denmark.” Accurately suspicious about others’ motives, INFJs are not easily led. These are the people that you can rarely fool any of the time. Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends. Such a friendship is a symbiotic bond that transcends mere words.
INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication. In addition, nonverbal sensitivity enables the INFJ to know and be known by others intimately.
Writing, counseling, public service and even politics are areas where INFJs frequently find their niche.”
Okay, forget that last part about politics. I’m apolitical. I do find Rush Limbaugh entertaining though. 😀
The list of INFJ’s is pretty interesting. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (pronounced Go’ – ta – long o, short a) was among them. I don’t know how anybody knows that, but it pleases me because I’ve always been fond of a passage attributed to him.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
For years it’s been attributed to him, but after a 2 year study the Goethe Society Of North America concluded Goethe didn’t write it, but William Hutchinson Murray did in the 1951 book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. Even so, I suspect Mr. Murray was also an INFJ. No matter, I’ve been a fan of that quote my entire life.
Some other notable INFJ’s are: Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, Jamie Foxx, Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Mark Harmon, Marg Helgaberger and Tom Selleck. Nathan, the prophet of Israel who confronted King David for his sin with Bathsheba is supposed to have been an INFJ. How can they possibly know that? Don’t ask me.
INFJ (Nature’s Psychologists)
Keep in mind, I’ve known I was an INFJ for many years. Well, as I confessed, I didn’t remember the letters, but I did remember I was an oddball. Upon diving into this recently I went over to YouTube and found a gazillion videos by people talking about being an INFJ. Some of them are pretty bizarre. Others are boring. A few, interesting.
A couple of podcasts back I confessed how I had inadvertently hurt a close friend by expressing some concerns. It was episode 4028. I talked about connecting dots that my friend said didn’t exist. Yeah, I’m still convinced the dots do exist, along with the lines connecting them. But my friend disagrees. And that’s cool because I quickly apologized. As I should.
I found myself connecting some other dots. Okay, not so much dots. Friends. One friend who was recently smitten by the Meyers-Briggs profile. Another who I hurt and felt I was connecting imaginary dots.
Yeah, these two things provoked me to dig out my Meyers-Briggs profile. This time I decided I’d study it a bit more. Read it more carefully to figure out if I’m blessed or cursed to be among the 1%.
According to a little article about INFJ’s by Marina Margaret Heiss, INFJ’s are sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people. But she goes on to say that INFJ’s are really true introverts who can only be emotionally fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family or obvious soul mates. Ms. Heiss is spot on so far.
INFJ’s will suddenly withdraw to themselves, a necessary escape value, says Heiss. This is a time when they (we) rebuild our depleted resources.
Self-expression comes easily to INFJ’s on paper says Ms. Heiss. They tend to have strong writing skills. Communication is important. Talk about hitting the proverbial nail on the head. BOOM! Goes the dynamite.
they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally wellsuited to the “inspirational” professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths.”
How do I know? I’m only here for the entertainment and music. How ’bout you?
Seriously, I don’t know. Not really. And that’s quite a strange thing for somebody who rather leans toward making sense of things.
My rational mind knows that just because 10 people are deemed INFJ’s doesn’t mean they are all the same. We’re all different. Our backgrounds, our social circles, our cultures…they’re all quite different. So are our skills, talents and inclinations.
I know this. And I’m not one to look for simple explanations or generic conclusions. Life is too complex for that.
I’m hardly special. No more than you. Or anybody else. I am unique, but so are you. We all are. There’s nobody just like you. Meyers-Briggs and other assessments show us that there are others similar to us though. That makes sense. Just think about it. You know people who like what you do and others who hate what you like. You know people who laugh at the same things you do, and others who don’t understand why you find some things funny. You share preferences with some and fail to understand the preferences of others. So it goes.
I love music, cartoons and hockey. And college football.
I like Japanese 4-cylinder sports cars with manual transmissions (my previous cars since 2000 have been an Acura Integra Type R, a Subaru STi and a MazdaSpeed3). Yep, I drove that bright yellow car with a wing on the back for a few years before selling it to my son. It was a great car, but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Unfortunately, a crazy woman on a cell phone in an SUV rear ended my son while he was at a red light. Totaled the car. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt.
The point is, I don’t drive an SUV, a four-door domestic sedan or a BMW. To each his own. Just more proof that we all have our own unique set of preferences.
It goes beyond that though. It’s also in how we communicate and see the world. That’s where I think tools like Meyers-Briggs can benefit us. If you have at least one other person in your life you know people communicate using different styles. It helps to understand those differences. It also helps to understand your own style. Personality profiles like Meyers-Briggs or DISC can help.
I’m not holding these up as scientific valid. And I’m not suggesting you use them to hire people. For me, they’re merely a useful tool – one of many – to examine how people tend to view the world, themselves in it and how people prefer to communicate.
As an INFJ I’ve got one more label to ascribe to myself. But more than that, I’ve got some insights that may or may not all apply to me. One of the biggest things the INFJ does for me is properly describe some things I may not be able to. Kinda like a Phillips head screwdriver, it’s not a tool for everything, but for some jobs…it’s ideal. I mean, it’s no hammer. But it is a tool.
A very special tool.
Kinda like me.
P.S. This sums it up for me. It’s funny, but very true for those of us who are INFJ’s.
Luke 12:15 “And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
People collect all sorts of things. It’s downright freaky what some people collect.
There’s a list of 25 things – strange things – people collect. A guy named Graham Barker started collecting bellybutton lint in 1984. He’s got 3 jar’s of it. Eeewww!
Phil Miller started collecting sugar packets in 1978. Phil is more sane than Michael Lewis. Michael collects moist towelettes.
In Sacramento, California you can visit The Asphalt Museum. I don’t know why anybody would visit it, but it’s there for all the weirdos who want to. But The Asphalt Museum might be more appetizing than the Museum of Burnt Food built by Deborah Henson Conant. One night in the late 80’s she put on a small pot of Apple Cider to heat, but forgot about it when she got a long phone call. The cider became a cinder and her museum was born. Good on her for making something we could all appreciate.
Do you remember all those CD’s that AOL used to send out in the mail? Lydia collects those. She’s got over 2,500 unique AOL diskettes (remember those?) and CD’s. It just thrills me to think of the fun times Lydia must have admiring her collection.
Becky Martz collects banana lapels. She’s got over 7,000 of them and I could not be more proud of her.
I have a collection of fortunes that come from fortune cookies. No, I don’t put any stock in them. I just find them entertaining. And small. Here’s a picture of my entire collection. There are few hundred crammed inside a little shot glass that I got as a souvenir years ago. I don’t drink. Never have had. But somebody gave me this glass from the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York. It holds the fortunes. It’s about at capacity now.
The good thing is my entire collection will fit in my hand. It’s not a large footprint.
That’s what I want to collect now. Space. Open areas. Enter the movement toward minimalism.
Now it’s no secret that I’m a music fan. I first heard the term “minimalism” associated with music. The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Brian Eno and David Bowie were early proponents of it. According to Fact Magazine, minimalism in music dates back to the 60’s. I was more a Lou Reed fan, but I don’t claim to have enough sophistication to have comprehended minimalism in music. Certainly not at the time. I was just a teenager. Today, I still don’t really comprehend it.
The art world also ventured into it. Pop art was never my cup of tea, but artists would go with some basic colors on canvas. I’m a music guy and a cartoon guy. When it comes to fine art, I’m more of an Andrew Wyeth guy, not a Jackson Pollock fan. I once threatened to put my dog’s feet into some paint and have him walk on a large canvas. I was convinced it would be more artistic than anything Pollock ever came up with.
Robert Hood, a music producer out of Detroit, properly defined minimalism as well as anybody.
Minimalism is not going to stop because it’s a direct reflection of the way the world is going. We’re stripping down and realizing that we need to focus on what’s essential in our lives.”
I can’t really pinpoint when the current minimalism movement took root. You know what I’m talking about. The notion that less is more.
I was in the consumer electronics business for years. Japan was, and largely still is, at the heart of that industry. I remember seeing typical Japanese living quarters when I was just a kid. The spaces were really spartan by American standards. When you realize how many people are crammed into a fairly small space you begin to understand why. Appliances were smaller. Rooms were smaller. Furniture was smaller.
I’m guessing the whole eastern Zen philosophy had something to do with it. My only exposure to Zen was the book, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. I was in high school when I first read that book.
Enter the Internet and a guy from Guam named Leo Babauta. He started a little website called Zen Habits. Somehow I found him early on and started reading his stuff. As a guy who writes a lot and reads a lot I was happy to find him. And I watched his story unfold as he grew in popularity and eventually found himself moving to San Francisco. I confess I don’t follow him as closely as I once did. It’s sorta like finding a little obscure band and following them everywhere. Then, when they break through and make it big you lose interest. It may not be fair, but so it goes.
I don’t consume everything they do, but I do follow them on social media and I’m in and out of their email newsletters. Randomly I’ll read their blogs. I’d classify myself as a wannabe minimalist. I’m in love with the idea of becoming minimalist. Some might call me a non-practicing minimalist. Non-practicing is an odd idea to me. I’ve had people introduce themselves to me as non-practicing Jews or non-practicing Buddhists.
I’m not sure if we can be defined by things we don’t actually do. If we can, then I’m a non-practicing cartoonist and guitarist. I think I’ll start using that.
Free space and margin are intriguing ideas to me. Probably because they’re so foreign to me.
Is your life filled with stuff? Clutter?
I’m not a hoarder, but I may as well be. Okay, it’s not anywhere near that bad, but some days it feels like it.
I’ve performed a number of business turnarounds in my life. The very first thing I do is walk around and inspect. Then I call a cleaning party where it’s all hands on deck and we clean, sort, organize and throw away all the crap. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, energizes a team of people more. When the job is completed everybody steps back and looks on the accomplishment with pride. I’m imagining that you know the feeling, even if it’s just cleaning out a closet, a garage or a room.
It’s refreshing. Invigorating. I love the feeling.
I just evidently don’t love it enough to embrace that lifestyle 100% of the time. But I’m leaning in that direction. Hard.
In business I always followed some tried and true systems. When it comes to paperwork I’d review it, then toss it or file it. I only had two ways to file something. I’d file it to archive it or I’d file it to handle it. That means I’d have to actually do something with it.
You’ve likely heard people – mostly professional organizers – encourage people to toss out anything they haven’t looked at, used or worn in the last 6 months. Or the last year.
Me? I’ve got stuff I haven’t looked at in years. Clothes I haven’t been able to fit into for decades. Underwear that hasn’t been replaced in 10 years. Okay, too much information…along with too much stuff.
It’s the foolishness in our head that hinders the process of clearing things out. “I’m liable to need that,” is what my dad would often say. Yeah, right. You know what he’d say that about. A pigtail kinda of a thing I’d be holding, asking him why he still hung onto it. He’s cut off the electrical plug of a cord that had gone bad. So I’d be holding a plug with about 6 inches of wire. That’d be it. A little 6 inch wire with a plug on the end. I mean, what are you gonna do with that…safely do with it? NOTHING. It’s a fire hazard or worse. You’d shock yourself trying to cobble together some electrical item.
But that attitude, “I’m liable to need that,” drives all of us to keep stuff that should have been thrown out long ago.
I’ve probably got $250,000 worth of junk that I could convert into 25 dollars cash money. Reminds me of that line Steve Martin used he first hit the national scene as a comedian. “I’m the author of the recent best seller, as soon as you all go buy one, “How I Turned A Million Dollars In Real Estate Into $25 Cash.”
Okay, I’ve over estimated the worth of the junk. And probably the scope of it, too. But I’ve got way more than I need. Or use.
Everybody I know complains of the same thing. The only people who don’t are young married couples who buy their first house. Just give ’em time. They’ll quickly join the rest of us and clutter their home with too much furniture and too much stuff.
I’m looking around the Yellow Studio and here’s the furniture…JUST the furniture inventory:
Too much? You think? But there’s more. Every bookcase is full. Every CD shelf is, too. So are the filing cabinets. And don’t even get me started on the stuff on top of the filing cabinets or bookshelves. I’ve got stuff piled on top of more stuff.
We’ve got a local bookstore chain called Half Price Books. They’ve got a terrific business model. They’ll give you about a dollar a book, if you’re lucky. Then they’ll price the book at half or one third the list price. I envy their profit margins. But I just can’t bring myself to part with books for a buck a piece. Just looking at them on the shelf inspires me. That’s what I hate about Kindle or digital books. No book spines sitting in a shelf to remind you of what you read, or to inspire a new thought. Oh well, I’m waxing sentimental I guess.
I do have some things that I should list on Craigslist. Speaking of business models. Where would Craigslist be without our over abundance of stuff? I know they list jobs and various other sordid things. Are jobs sordid?
Here’s my plan. I’d love to hear yours…especially if you’ve done this before. I’ll warn you though. If you did it after 5 years of marriage and no kids, that don’t count. We’ve been married almost 37 years. We’ve got 2 grown kids. Stuff grows exponentially about every 5 years. So your 5 years is no match for my 37. Next.
Here goes. This is what I’m thinking about doing.
Yes, a closet constitutes a room. And that may be the best place to start because it’s essentially a small room.
Even a small closet is like the VW Bug at the circus. Clowns just keep on piling out of the thing. “Man alive. How much more crap is in there?” It’s like there’s always just one more box. And it’s certain to be a box that isn’t labeled and one that hasn’t been opened in years. And you know what that means? You have to go through it. And that takes time as you sort through junk saying, “I’m liable to need that some day.”
No, you’re not. You haven’t needed it for years. And if you ever do need it, you’re not going to remember where to find it. Pitch it.
Keep it. Sell it. Toss it.
What more do you need? Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question. The correct answer is, “Nothing.”
You’re not liable to need that some day. If you’ve lived without it for years, or even 6 months — you’ll never miss it.
Honestly, what are the odds you’ll need that item in the next 6 months. There’ve been many times when I looked at something and admitted, “I’m NEVER going to use this.” In years past, I think it was made more difficult because getting rid of your junk required having a yard or garage sale. I’ve worked more of those than I care to remember. I think I’m scared for life from working them as a kid. I hated them then. I hate them more now.
I know some of you love them. I even know people who venture out weekly to buy stuff at yard sales. Listen, I don’t even want my own junk. Why would I pay good money for your junk? I’m stupid sometimes, but I’m smarter than that. Besides, the point of all this is to de-clutter not re-clutter.
I think the first move has to be this pile because the more you look at it, the more you’re going to be tempted to keep stuff. I know that look. I’ve seen it in my dad. I’ve even seen it in the mirror.
You start looking at stuff you’re planning to throw away and you end up taking stuff out of that pile saying, “I think I’ll keep this.” And you keep doing that until the pile is about half the size it was originally.
Speed is your friend. Act fast. If you’re going to take it to Goodwill, pack it up and head over there. Fast.
If you’re going to throw it away, get it to the curb and don’t look back. Do. Not. Look. Back.
And don’t go inside the house looking out the window at the curb wishing you’d kept something in that pile. Consider it gone.
Why do we want to try to put a price tag on our junk before we ever look at the market value? Because it’s our junk. And our junk is worth way more than your junk.
This is not the time to be fixing prices on stuff. This is simply the time to organize and inventory what we’re going to sell. Here are some things I’m planning to do:
a. Take multiple pictures of the item.
In case one photo is blurry. Besides, I may want multiple angles of the item. If it’s a serialized item, meaning it probably has higher value if it’s still working (think camera, audio or video gear, computer stuff, etc.) then I’m gonna want the photo to show any damage or scratches, too. People want to know the condition of such items.
b. Get the boxes to electronics (or other items, if you’ve got them).
I keep boxes. Now’s the time to rifle through the boxes to match up the box with the item you’re going to sell. It’s also time to throw away the boxes of items you no longer have or items you’re tossing.
c. Keep accessories with items using plastic food bags.
Put electrical cords and other items (including owner’s manuals) in plastic food bags and keep the bag with the item. Take pictures of all the accessories that go with the main item you’re selling. It’ll help sell it.
d. Keep all the sales items together so you know exactly where they are.
It seems obvious, but I’ve done this exercise before where I took pictures, got things ready and then couldn’t find the item because of all the mix up in the clutter mess. Segregate the stuff that’s “for sale.” Put it in a place all its own. You’ll thank me later.
e. Write descriptions. Be honest.
This isn’t sales copy. Yet. It’s a proper description of the item. Include the model number if you have it. I’ve even included serial numbers of electronics so people will have security knowing I didn’t steal the item. I’ll make note if I’m the original owner or not, too.
Make note of the condition. Does the item work? Is it heavily used? Does it look “like new?”
Write down exactly what the item is, but don’t embellish. This isn’t the time to write down, “Must see.” Just properly describe the item.
f. Go from highest to lowest price (or what you think will be highest to lowest).
You’ve got an idea of the items that will bring you the most money. Start with those items.
It may be furniture items. Or electronics. Whatever it is, select the item you think (that’s important, because you don’t yet know how much you’ll get for anything) will fetch the most money. Then work your way south.
g. Now for the un-fun part, research how much you can get.
Solicit your family to help. Divide and conquer.
Get online and find out how much the item is selling for. Don’t assume your item will sell for $200 if there are 5 of them in your area asking $75.
There’s priced to sell fast, then there’s priced to see how much you can get. That’s up to you. Again, your emotional noise factor can derail you here. Listen, this thing has been stashed away somewhere, unused for a long time. Why do you think you need to hold out for an extra $20? Makes no sense. But that’s your call.
h. Post the stuff for sale and don’t forget to hit up your Facebook friends.
I know many moms who have sold everything they had by posting it on Facebook. This may not work for everybody, but getting the word out among friends can be an easy route to clearing the decks of your “for sale” items.
There is one potential downside. Selling stuff to friends may not be what you want to do. “Hey, remember that car seat you sold me, well, the back strap broke.” Sometimes selling to strangers is a better way to go.
Write your copy, create the ad and get it posted. EBay. Craigslist. Wherever! That’s up to you. And I’m not about to dive into the ways you should protect yourself. Google it. But there are some serious things to consider. For example, do you want to invite people to come to your house or do you want to meet them in a public place with the item? Large items like furniture or appliances may not allow you any option, but you should figure out how you’re going to do it. What phone number do you post? Sort though all that and decide for yourself.
This is the invigorating part for me. I love this part of the process. I even enjoy the vacuuming behind furniture, touch up painting or anything else that is required to make the space feel fresh. It’s like a new start.
You’ve come this far so don’t short cut it. Vacuum those base boards. Paint. Move furniture around for a new, fresh look. Patch little holes where pictures were hanging (if you’re moving them).
Clean. Clean. Clean. From ceiling to floor. I suggest you do it in that order, too because dust from that ceiling fan will fall to the floor. Don’t clean the floor first.
Somebody else can tell you how to do this because I don’t know any tricks. It’s just discipline. And even with discipline I fall back into habits of shoving items in drawers or closets.
I can tell you one thing I’m gonna try this go round. I’m going to go through drawers and closets every few months instead of waiting for some major overhaul effort. I think I’ll benefit from trying to do a little bit at a time to keep it the way I want it. It’s a pay me now, or pay me later kind of a thing. I’d rather pay a little bit as I go.
As I sort through all the clutter in my life I can’t help but remember how badly I wanted some of these things. Do you ever feel that way?
As I hold a piece of electronics, or clothing, or anything else…I take a moment and think, “I remember when I got this. I remember how badly I wanted it. Now look at it. Now, look at me!”
I have to consciously do this most of the time. And it helps me understand the truthfulness of that scripture in Luke. “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
It’s amazing how quickly things lose value. And how dissatisfied I can become with things I once longed to have.
And as I sit in a cleaned up space free of months of clutter I feel remorse for the money I’ve wasted. I think of the sum total of all the crap I’ve sold and tossed. And it makes me feel foolish. Deservedly so.
Starting this fall and winter…maybe I can lean more toward wisdom and be more responsible. Maybe more of us can understand the truth of all this and improve our lives. You know it’s not this stuff that makes our lives. It’s the people in our lives. I need to get this stuff out of the way so I can be better with the people in my life who matter!
I was arrogant. Pompous even. And I messed up big time.
I hurt a close friend and it was entirely my fault. Worse yet, I didn’t mean to hurt him. I was honestly concerned.
For sometime I’ve tried to make sense of some observations I had made about my friend. Something was different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. He’s got mad skills. He performs. I’ll just leave it at that. His performances over the past few years didn’t seem quite up to par with the ridiculously high standards I’d seen in years past. It baffled me.
A guy who was smooth, polished and always on top of his game seemed to struggle at time. It just wasn’t the same and I was perplexed. To be fair, his performances were still very good, but he was special. The performances too frequently weren’t.
I set about to examine lots of the performances. And there it was. Something different. No idea what it was exactly though. The signs were evident. Struggling here. A little bit there. Was he just tired? Beaten down? It happens. To all of us. Even him.
Like most, I try to make sense of the world. It’s a habit that’ll drive a sane man crazy. Once, long ago, I was sane.
I was searching to connect some dots because I cared deeply about this guy. Enter my big problem. Arrogance of heart.
Some people approach life with more rational thought than emotional. I have mostly felt like I could measure both rational thought and emotion, but I’m very heart driven. It helps me empathize with people more than most. It helps me relate to many people. This time, it got me into hot water. A big hot mess.
I went looking for answers because I was worried about my friend. I made inquiry with a joint friend. He had some insights that I lacked and almost instantly I connected some dots. “Yes, that’s it,” I felt. Thinking I had spotted the source of the changes, and believing they weren’t positive, I wrestled with what to do. For days. And nights. I anguished about it, as I am wont to do.
I started writing an email draft. Only because my email program was open and my word processor wasn’t. It got quite long and I wondered how to best approach this. I’m sitting here staring at a few mics and audio gear, why not record a message? Yes. That’s a great idea. That way I can say it the way I want and he’ll hear it the way I intend.
Enter another big problem. I acted on my arrogance of heart. It’s one thing to be arrogant of heart. It’s something worse to act on it. I should have gone into a corner until the mood passed. Or climbed into bed and ducked my head under the covers. It would have been a wiser choice.
But that’s not what I did. If I’m anything, it’s proactive. I don’t tend to sit idly by. I tend to seize the moment. Those who claim living by carpe diem is the way to go haven’t likely lived by that motto as much as I have. I can tell you it often doesn’t work. It’s more likely that the day will not just seize you, but it’ll grab you by the throat, kick you in the groin and leave you on the ground wishing you were dead. But still I try. To seize the day. The moment. Make a difference.
And that’s the arrogance. I see it everywhere. People who claim, and others who actually feel, that they’re world changers! Like Pinocchio giving that motivational speech in the Geico commercial, they want to think they can make a big difference. And they can. But the arrogance is the belief that the big difference can always be positive. Or that it can be widespread. I know, I often suffer from it.
But I’m learning. Well, I’m leaning. Toward wisdom. The problem is leaning and learning require effort, pain and suffering. You don’t think so?
How many skinned knees did you suffer learning to ride a bike?
How many sore finger tips did you suffer learning to play the guitar?
How much suffering did you endure learning calculus?
I didn’t say it couldn’t also be fun or rewarding, but there’s some pain. You best make up your mind you’re going to endure the pain or you’ll never grow.
There’s a different kind of pain though when it’s your idiocy. It’s one thing to learn to ride a bike. It’s something else – far more idiotic – to learn to ride a bike off the roof into a swimming pool.
I recorded an audio of my concerns. I uploaded it to the cloud and sent my friend a short email telling him how much I cared about him. I decided to ride the bike off the roof into the swimming pool. An empty swimming pool.
I didn’t break any bones, but I almost broke my friendship. It didn’t go well. At all.
I spoke from my heart. I was emotional. I was concerned. My friend was moved. He was confident I cared about him. But he didn’t agree with me. And I could tell it hurt him.
So I apologized. And meant it. It’s something carpe diem taught me years ago. I have no trouble making amends. I’m quick to apologize. And I’m not one of those characters who does the same thing, always apologizing for it. No, I’m much smarter than that. I never make the same mistake twice. I’m ingenious in my ability to find brand new ways to mess up. My imagination for creating new problems knows no bounds. I rather crafty like that.
I fell on the sword. Then I fell it again. And again. I felt awful. On many fronts. I felt badly that I observed a decline in performance. It was true, but I still regret it. Yes, I did (and still do) feel my friend’s performances in earlier years trumped more recent ones. I felt badly for connecting dots. Dots that my friend felt didn’t exist. So not only did I draw lines between dots, but I was drawing lines between imaginary dots. See, I told you I was crafty.
So today, I’m sitting in the corner with my dunce cap on hoping you’ll learn from my foolishness. Hoping to help you lean toward wisdom where I failed to. And I’m hoping I’ll learn, too.
So here are my learning points.
Yes, I had honestly studied and observed a difference in my friend’s performances. I still stand by that. He doesn’t agree and that doesn’t make me right. He thinks his performances are as good as ever. I think he’s losing confidence (he’s admitted as much) and it shows (he thinks he’s good as masking it, and he is).
My hopes that he would see what I see failed. Proof positive that my opinion is worth exactly what he paid for it. Nothing. He didn’t ask for my insights. I had no right to speak.
Here’s the odd thing. I’m not a person driven to always share my opinion. In fact, I’m only driven to share my opinion with my closest friends. Standing around a conversation circle where people are chiming in about how they feel about a subject has little or no impact on me. I’m not compelled to chime in most of the time. I’m rather content, in those circumstances, to watch and listen to everybody else.
I’m not excusing my arrogance to speak my opinion. There is no excuse. However, I am aware – self aware – that my opinion does sometimes drive me to share concern with close friends.
We mostly believe we’re right when it comes to our opinions. That’s why we have our opinions. I don’t know anybody who holds an opinion because they don’t believe it’s right, or true. But all of us know other people who hold an opinion counter to ours. We think they’re wrong. Not us. Well, we can’t all be right. Sometimes, we have to admit we’re wrong.
Have I changed my mind about my friend’s performance? No. But again, that doesn’t mean my observations are correct. I could be deluded noticing something that isn’t there. I’ve quantified what I’ve observed. I’ve noticed very specific changes. But it’s possible my vision is blurred, my perceptions foggy.
We all know people who will share their opinions with anybody, anywhere, anytime. I’m not that guy. This was a close friend. Somebody I really care about.
I always ask, “Who am I?” But this time I didn’t take the time to answer it properly. I should have spent more time thinking about that, but I didn’t. I let my emotions rule the moment. My heart felt concern drove me to do something I now regret.
Do you feel like you can make a positive difference in any situation? Do you feel like there’s always something you can do? Me, too.
Yet I know – my rational mind understands it clearly – that there are many situations beyond my control or influence. Still I try. It’s the fallacy of that carpe diem.
Maybe it’s my competitive nature. I hate to lose. I’m not talking about a friendly game of volleyball or cards. I’m talking about more important things. I hate losing a sale. A customer. A friend. I don’t surrender easily. Sometimes I don’t leave well enough alone.
It’s the arrogance of thinking I can make a difference, but sometimes I can’t. Does that plague you sometimes? Do you examine things and wonder how you might be able to affect change? Yeah, me, too.
Lesson learned though is that I may not be the right guy for this particular job. If I needed new flooring in my house (and I do in some places), I would never attempt that job because I’m unqualified. Why then do I feel qualified to tackle other problems? Because I sometimes lean away from wisdom instead of toward it. Sometimes, I’m an idiot.
I never do it unless I believe I’m right. But that’s not the point – not for today’s lessons. The real question is, “Who am I?” Who indeed.
Well, in this case I was a close friend. That confused me. It made me feel an obligation to help, to support. And lest you get the wrong idea, I didn’t just criticize my friend. I lifted him up. I did it clearly, too. He even acknowledged that he wasn’t worthy of the confidence I had placed in him. Well, I think he’s wrong. See, there I go again…thinking I’m right and he’s wrong. 😀
He admitted some admiration for the performances of some other people, people who are inferior (in my opinion) to his own natural ability. I likened it to him being a real hundred dollar bill, but admiring the qualities of the counterfeit hundred dollar bills in the market. He knows I think he’s a terrific talent. That was entirely my point.
But my point got lost. Instead, I inadvertently cut my friend’s pride. And my own throat.
Patience is a virtue. We’ve all heard it. We know it’s true. Why then do we violate that law? When I find out, I’ll tell you.
All I know now, that I may not have known before, is that I falsely believed patience would allow my friend to continue to experience a slide in performance as he mimicked some things he admired in lesser performers. I felt he would continue to do things that I thought would hurt him. Again, arrogance. And I didn’t really try to let it go. Mostly, because I care about him, or so I said to myself.
I’m not him. I’m not living his life. He’s an adult fully capable of doing his own thing. If he wants to change some things, that’s his business. I should have let it go. I should have told myself that it’s just my opinion and my view isn’t more important than his.
So what if I feel his performances aren’t as sharp as in the past? He feels good about them. I didn’t know that until I created this mess though. I learned a lot after the fact. Too late. And that results in another lesson.
This is a big lesson. Rather than dive into what I was seeing, or what I thought I was seeing…I should have just talked with him and asked him how he felt about things. I purposefully avoided that though because I didn’t want to put him on the spot. And I didn’t want him to see my questions as, “You think something is wrong with my performance?” I just didn’t know how to go about it, but I should have figured out a way.
As I have done a postmortem on this debacle I’ve thought about how I could have found out how he felt without doing what I did. I still don’t have an answer. I’m sure one is hiding somewhere. Probably in plain sight.
If you can just engage in meaningful (and that’s the operative word) conversation, do it. I wasn’t smart enough to figure out how so I skipped this step. Don’t let your own stupidity get in your way like I did.
It’s the famous Seinfeld episode where George gets a dose of his own medicine. A girl breaks up with him using a line that is his signature move, “It’s not you, it’s me!”
True confession. You know why I suck at cold calling? Sure, I hate it, but that’s the real reason. I’m bad at it because I’m too arrogant. I think, “There’s got to be something I can do better.” I assume control where there likely isn’t any.
I’ve long known this about myself. In fact, one time I had an opportunity to become a Vistage chair. I thought it was something that would be right up my ally. My skillset and experience was ideal, or so I thought. Part of the process, as with many organizations, involves various assessments. Suspecting that cold calling was an important activity, I noticed some questions were designed to flesh out a person’s propensity to do it. Rather than answering what I thought they wanted, I answered honestly. My thought process was pretty clear at the time. If they really want somebody wired for that, then I just need to be true to who I am and not try to be something I’m not.
If I cold call people and get shot down, I’m going to think about how I can do it better the next time. That’s an awful habit for cold calling demons. Great cold callers will learn, but they just go in knowing it’s a numbers game. Rejection doesn’t mean they need to learn anything. They just keep dialing.
I don’t take rejection personally, but I’m such a control freak – and I’m too arrogant to surrender to the thought that there’s NOTHING I can do to affect a better outcome – that I’m going to work harder the next time to find a better way. That’s counter productive in the cold calling world. Great cold callers just make the calls fast and furious. It’s not work for the faint of heart, or for people wired like me – people who think there’s some way to get a “yes.” I own my performance too much sometimes.
For me, it’s all about relationships. Even in business, I’m not transaction driven. I don’t even involve myself in transaction oriented enterprise. It’s not who I am. That’s why client or customer loyalty is THE thing for me.
That’s what I mean when I say, it really is the other guy sometimes. That’s likely the biggest lesson of it all for me. I’m not in control. It’s not my decision. All I can do is what I can. I’ve got to leave the rest without fretting about it. So this point is really about moving on! Just move on. Forget about it.
ACE. And I mean that in a bad way. Dom Irerra did a comedy bit a long time ago, “I Don’t Mean That In A Bad Way.” He said it was an Italian disclaimer enabling the person to get away with saying anything.
Well, arrogance, control and ego…I do mean it in a bad way. How could it not be bad? Easy. I’ll give you common synonyms.
Arrogance = Self Confidence
Control = Taking Charge
Ego = Ambition
So I guess they can be good or bad, depending on the context and intention. Today, I’m using them in a context that isn’t good. Don’t ask me to define the line for you ’cause I can’t. At what point does confidence become arrogance? When does taking charge morph into control issues? What prompts ambition to become a problem?
All good questions. Somebody wiser than me has to provide us with the answers.
All I know is that in this particular instance, with my dear friend, I let all 3 of these converge into something dreadful. In my arrogance I thought I could and should provide some clarity and advice. My sense of control led me to believe I could affect some positive change. My ego convinced me I was the person for the job. Three big problems. The trifecta of blithering idiocy.
I never did claim to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I did claim to be a knife. Today, I’m not sure. I’m feeling more like a spoon today. And not just any spoon.
Have you ever had a spoon go into the garbage disposer? I did. Just recently. It made the spoon unserviceable. There are some gashes in the spoon that will tear your lips up if you get that spoon by mistake. I did that yesterday morning when I used it to eat my yogurt. For the umpteenth time I thought, “Why do we continue to wash this thing and put it back in the drawer?” I guess we’re looking at that spoon like I look at myself today. We’re thinking it’s not that bad. And it’s not. Until we pull it out of the drawer and use it.
That’s how my brain is these days. It’s fine. Until I decide to use it. Fool that I am. I didn’t realize I’d slipped into the garbage disposer of life and damaged it.
Time for some sandpaper. Time to smooth out the rough edges. Time to lean harder toward wisdom. And nothing will do that like a big dose of humility. I know. Because today, I’m humbled. And I won’t soon forget it. Hopefully, my friend will.
Linda Dee posted this on Google + and it properly depicts my performance. I intended to hit that large bag, but I missed. Woefully.