My DISC Dilemma: Am I Really Such a Terrible Person?

The most interesting class I had in graduate school was one in organizational behavior at Arkansas State University.

Never having really considered the workplace dynamics of personalities and how they jive or clash, it was a fascinating exercise to go through the Myers-Briggs testing and the DISC assessment. If our “natural” personalities don’t mesh with our co-workers, family and friends, we can sometimes see how our “adjusted” personalities take over to compensate in certain scenarios.

After entering into a professional coaching relationship recently with Dick Savidge, president of Ministry Coaching International, one of Dick’s pre-requisites prior to our initial coaching session today was the completion of the DISC profile assessment, which I had taken many times before.

This marks the beginning of my relationship with Dr. Savidge, and one that I pray will be productive. Dick has agreed to take me on as a client primarily for the purpose of keeping me focused and accountable to the things I’ve determined as important in my life. His initial assessment of my “self-destructive” nature a week ago should provide for some interesting conversation down the line.


The DISC is standard fare in professional coaching. It offers understanding and insight into our natural and adjusted styles of behavior and communication. Further it enlightens us on our own world view, values and “emotional” intelligence.

It’s amazing how a 20-minute test can provide such amazing insight into a person’s psyche.Typically, anyone who goes through the DISC will confirm some things they already know about themselves, and may be actually taken aback by some other revelations.

Let me share with you some words and phrases intended to describe me in this most recent DISC assessment.

  • Aggressive and direct
  • Bored with status quo
  • Dominant
  • “short fuse”
  • Arrogant
  • “emotionally involved”
  • Defiant
  • Egotistical
  • Opinionated
  • Stubborn
  • Self-willed

Well, that’s enough of that. I’m already starting to psyche myself out.

Not that there weren’t some “good things,” mentioned in the assessment – but of course, my natural tendency is to focus on the problems, fix them, and move on. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

In DISC language, I’m a “high D” in my natural style. This means my preferred style of communication is direct, short and to the point. Let’s analyze, assess and move on. No “how’s your day going” chit chat. Oh, the humanity.

But we also have an “adjusted” style of behavior and communication to which we shift in certain environments. Problem is, my ability to shift is probably less than it should be, and really takes me out of my comfort zone.

Ironically, most people who know me on the surface probably see me as easy-going, light-hearted and generally a decent person. Most don’t see the bad guy inside, and that’s a good thing.

This is probably what concerns me the most… The characteristics of  “high D” are the things mentioned above. Self-willed, egocentric, arrogant, forceful and on and on… Furthermore, the bar graph assessment shows me at 100% D. It doesn’t get any higher than that.

So with those natural, instinctive, characteristics in mind, and if that’s, indeed, the way I really am, and I’m seeking to be in God‘s will in everything I do, rather than in my own will, what does this mean?

Am I hearing God’s voice when I make a decision?

Or am I just self-absorbed in what I hope He wants me to do?

Am I just pretending to be a follower of Christ?

Or am I just a “fan” of Christ on the surface?

And if these things are true, what am I going to do about it?

Hope you’re ready for this, Dick. You may have your hands full.


The Best Business Advice I Ever Got?

When approaching a new business venture don't bite off more than you can chew. Take things one small bite at a time.

I’ve been blessed with a diverse career in journalism, publishing, fundraising, marketing and branding and even owned a small business for a period of time.

In the process there have been some magnificent opportunities to be around some great men who were willing to impart wisdom and share their secrets to success. Oftentimes I think a certain fear wells up in us to approach an older, more seasoned veteran of the trade, but my experience has been when I am well prepared, passionate and curious for helpful knowledge some of the greatest businessmen in my area were more than willing to give me a block on their busy schedule … and it has been invaluable to me, whether I took their advice or not because lessons have been learned.

It all got me to thinking about the realm of advice I’d been given, and so I wanted to share a few tidbits of that wisdom and then offer a few personal observations. Here are the Dirty Dozen I can recall:

1. YOU’LL NEVER GET ANYWHERE WITHOUT THE SIGNIFICANT HELP OF SOMEONE ELSE. When I was going into business for myself I sought out some self-made men. Two of them (who happened to be great friends) but were never partners in business told me this identical thing. And I believe it to be true. I can think of no significant thing I’ve ever done when someone didn’t lend me a hand. And I don’t mean a staff or a personal aide. I’m talking about someone more successful that you or me who would help make a connection, or send a deal your way or buy something from you when they really didn’t need it just because. They did it for me, and I certainly hope to do it for others one day.

2. THE ONLY RULE IS THAT THERE ARE NO RULES. Well, I struggle with this one. I have a natural bent toward rule breaking and almost despise rules and doctrine. It was a great newspaper publisher who shared this with me, and in journalism, for the most part, you can get by with it. There’s a fine balance between being really good to employes and allowing them to take advantage of you. In my brief stint as an independent business owner, there were no established guidelines for vacation or time in and time out. Just do your job. Maybe that’s why it went down the tubes. On the other hand, the church I attend most regularly operates from a business model guided by a “constitution and bylaws” which I find disturbing in that particular venue. Seems to me the guidelines are already there in the best-selling book in the history of the world, but I digress.

3. DON’T BURN BRIDGES. It’s a good rule. Things always come back around. I’ve been there, done that. Sometimes, it sure feels good though. Ninety-five percent of the time, burning a bridge is wrong.

4. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. I once worked for a man who had previously served as an agricultural liaison to President Clinton. It was a cush political job, but just because he was the President’s buddy, he carried a pretty big stick. He told me the first few times he walked into an Ag Cabinet meeting, he just sat in the back of the room, wearing a special lanyard and never said a word. They had no idea who he was or what he was doing there, but they were scared to death of him.

5. YOU CAN’T SPEND WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE. I think it’s baloney. Anyone with a vision and drive and passion can find the money for whatever they want to undertake.

6. A PART OF SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN ALL OF NOTHING. I currently work for a local company that employs only around 30 people. Three entrepreneurs founded the company and have developed strategic partnerships all over the world. With those partnerships they prove that pennies multiplied by volumes in the millions adds up to real money. Had I understood this lesson years ago, I might be wealthy myself. Oh, the humanity.

7. YOU MUST HAVE A VISION. Without a vision, the people perish, and so it is in business. And just as a vision carries you forward, you continue to see ahead. I cannot believe how fast the world is changing every single day.

8. KEEP A CLOSE INNER CIRCLE. Right on. Jesus had the 12, but He also had the three. There is no better scenario than having two or three companions with whom you can share your heart, and who will not judge you, no matter your mistakes. The freedom to be transparent is real freedom.

9. TEST & MEASURE. Almost nobody gets this. I’m amazed at how most business people spend advertising dollars having no idea of the amount of revenue that it directly generates. I’ve been blogging for about two weeks now. One of the great things about WordPress is that the ability to test and measure is at my fingertips. If you regularly analyze your hits, it’s a piece of cake. I can tell you exactly what topics will draw what number of readers and the day AND time of day when they are most likely to read my material. Generally, if my work’s not published by 8 a.m. you can forget it. My posts usually go out around 6 a.m. And this post is a test in itself. It will hit around 1 a.m. CST, so it will be interesting to see what happens this go around.

10. CONNECT. And I don’t mean as in FaceBook or Linked In. Connect with real people you can touch and with whom you can shake hands and look at the pictures on their office wall. My rule of thumb is if you don’t make a connection within the first minute of a one-on-one meeting it’s not gonna happen. This is more art than science, more innate than learned. I once coached a small restaurant owner who had previously worked in sales. She had a great story about how difficult it was to get past a gatekeeper to a potentially huge client. A little behind-the-scenes research showed her the guy liked to play cards. Each week for three weeks she sent him an Ace in a simple envelope. First the Ace of Hearts; next the Ace of Clubs; and then the Ace of Diamonds. The fourth week she cold-called the guy and the secretary gatekeeper said no way. She simply replied, “Tell him the Ace of Spades is here,” and she walked in and closed a huge deal. Beautiful.


12. FALL ON THE SWORD. I’ve had countless times when I was accosted by an angry client or co-worker and just let them rant and rave as long as they want while I stay quiet. And my typical response will be, “You know, you’re right and I’m sorry.” It’s amazing how you can disarm someone with an apology whether it’s deserved or not. But who wants the hassle of a fight. Not me.