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I Types


– Influence / Inspiring / Involved –

My husband has a Harley.  On weekend mornings we love to go exploring on the bike, often stopping somewhere for breakfast.  We wear our leather Harley jackets and boots for protection.  I think we look pretty stylish and not at all intimidating but this weekend there were some 70 and 80 year old youngsters in a packed restaurant on the other side of the mountain whose stares said otherwise!  When Dave leaned over and whispered “Ok, champ, pick us a safe booth”, I knew he felt it also.

There appeared to be only one server who was handling the entire room with ease.  She made her way toward us, stopping for a quick word at each booth.  We saw her nod in our direction more than once.  When she arrived at our table and took our order her demeanor was that of a Mama Bear.

Call me crazy, but I love the challenge of diffusing an unfriendly situation by applying what I know about DISC.  First, I needed to determine her Personality Style.  What had I observed about Mama Bear?

She was very fast-paced when she moved and when she spoke.  That narrowed my choice to either a D (Dominant) or an I (Influence) as they are the fast-paced Personalities.  How to tell the difference?

The appearance of a D is normally conservative.  The I leans toward contemporary, fun, and a flair with accessories.  Our server had 4 earrings, 3 necklaces, a bright jeweled watch and very colorful, patterned nail polish.  Her hair was short and brown with bright blond spikes.  I was certain Mama Bear was an I.

The next step?  People want to feel comfortable with others.  It was important I speak to her in the language of an I:  fast-paced, fun and with warmth.  The greatest fear of an I is a fear of not being liked or accepted so it was important she know I accepted her.  When she returned I said, “There’s one VERY important thing I need to know.”  She turned.  I smiled, looked her in the eye and asked “What is your name?”  After a brief hesitation she returned my smile and said “Sue”.

“Well, Sue”, I said, and briefly told her of our ride over the mountain seeking a restaurant with nice people and a great breakfast.  I delivered our tale in the language of an I – fast, warm, personal and fun.  As Mama Bear Sue enjoyed our conversation she relaxed.  We’re sure she shared our story as evidenced by the nods and smiles we got as she made her next round with her customers.

I’m sure Dave and I will return to what we now affectionately call “The Bear Den”.  We look forward to seeing how Mama Sue and her cubs welcome us the next time.

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Are You Honest About Your Weakness?

Delegating is tough for a lot of people regardless of their Personality Style.  Delegating and not interfering is even harder.  This past weekend I met someone who had that ability and I truly admired her for it.

While enjoying a 3 day motorcycle adventure through the mountains, Dave and I noticed a hands-on teaching facility about local animals and their environment.  Upon exploration we learned the business had grown from the passion of the owner, let’s call her Anne.  As I observed Anne it was obvious she had developed her program with an understanding of her personal strengths and weaknesses.  Let me share what I observed:

The first part of the program was her lecture.  The second portion was hands-on fun with the animals.  Anne’s lecture was entertaining and informative.  To the delight of the kids, she turned one of their dads into an animal by adding cloth appendages, describing the purpose of each as she added it.  A young boy who was very excited started to interrupt her.  While Anne responded to him gently, it was obvious to me that her patience with children was very lacking.

At the end of Anne’s lecture her assistants took some of the parents and all the kids to visit the animals.  She stayed behind chatting with the remaining adults, an interaction  she obviously enjoyed.

I admired the fact that she recognized where she was talented – teaching the class and interacting with the adults – and where she was not – handling the enthusiasm of the kids.  I can see where, with her lack of patience, Anne might have gotten a bit cranky with the kids in the animal habitat as they excitedly bolted from one animal to the next!  Not good for business.  Instead, Anne had hired assistants with the patience she lacked and she let them do their job.

Many leaders don’t understand this. They rely on their strengths and ignore their weakness.  This cripples their success.  A great leader has the courage to not only acknowledge their personal weakness and hire someone who has that strength, but to also let them do their job without interference.  Because this was something Anne was capable of doing her business is thriving!

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DISC in the ICU

We are here for Bobby, my 29 year old future son-in-law, who is battling for life after being revived from cardiac arrest. Six weeks ago he was diagnosed with endocarditis. 19 days ago his heart failed.

Bobby was medivac’d to a cardiology hospital in Miami, a city that is a melting pot of people. As I sit here in the ICU waiting room observing the dynamics of the various families I see that even in times of stress, personality styles are predictable regardless of culture, religion or environment. Each family member’s behavioral style determines the role they will take during their crisis.

The personality to step forward quickly is the D. They are people who want action. They are on the phone, they take charge during Doctor consultations and have no hesitation seeking second opinions. They are ok with ruffling feathers if it gets results.

The I arrives with a huge smile. They bring the positive attitude. They break the tension with funny observations and they’re often the person who will reach out to members of other families in the waiting room.

The S brings hugs….they bring food….they have the tissues….they get coffee. They are also the quiet strength holding the family together.

A casual observer may not notice the C as they tend to stay in the background. I often see them huddled over their electronic gizmo researching and seeking data. The family will go to them with the question “What did that Doctor mean?” and the C will find the answer.

Our family unit is no different. We have each of the personalities represented, each one supporting the others with a smile or food, information or action. We are getting hopeful as every day brings another sign that Bobby may wake from this coma. He is opening his eyes, responding to touch and moving his lips to his favorite songs. We know he hears us, we’re pretty sure he sees us and we are faithful God is planning a huge miracle.

Thank you to each of you for your love and your prayers.

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Defeating Stress

Stress.  Crisis.  Tragedy.  How do you pull yourself through it and come out the other side?  People often say time heals.  My future son-in-law has now been in a coma for 3 1/2 months.  The doctors are saying time may not heal him.  Can time heal those who surround him?

I don’t have the answer for that but  I do have some powerful suggestions from DISC that can help you during a time of tragedy or stress.  For each Personality Style there is a direction you can take to help you process your situation.  Most of us are a blend of the 4 Personalities so you may find more than one option that will work for you:


If you are the Dominant Personality go hit the gym.  Physical exercise is the release you need to avoid a knee jerk reaction of wanting to attack the crisis or the people involved.  Exercise will help you gain control.  A D in control is great at turning a crisis into a challenge.  You have a natural ability to find the good that can come out of a tough situation.


Getting in contact with people is best for the Influence Behavioral Style.  You process information best through conversation and interaction.  Talking about the crisis with people you trust is an ideal way for you to process ideas and start to see solutions.


The Supportive Style does best with an undirected activity, something that has no real plan and no time frame for completion.  Accepting change is often a challenge for you.  By choosing an activity that is somewhat brainless you will have some quiet time to embrace whatever changes will be required of you.


The Cautious C needs facts and data.  You require information to process, you have answers you need to find.  To others your quiet, thinking time may come across as withdrawal.  Be sure to communicate with them during this time.  As you seek your solution be wary of requiring perfection rather than achieving excellence.

For me, as I’ve processed through this tragedy I’ve had long conversations with family and friends which have helped me accept I have no power to change this.  I’ve also spent time laboring in the garden which I readily admit has helped me release some nasty emotions that could have become something ugly!!

If you are facing a crisis, try the suggestions above.  I believe you will find at least one that will help.


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DISC Theory Primer

Inventor of DISC...and Wonder Woman

Inventor of DISC…and Wonder Woman

In 1923, Dr. William Moulton Marston published a book called “The Emotions of Normal People,”. In it, he identified the four major patterns of human behavior as:

  • Dominance
  • Influence
  • Steadiness
  • Conscientiousness

No one person’s behavior ever falls 100% under one category,  but generally, one pattern will emerge as dominant with varying degrees of the other three providing the balance.

Trivia: The good doctor also wrote comic books and was the creator of Wonder Woman.

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Hello world!

Moving day for our new online home. Nothing works as yet, just boxes and furnishings piled up in the middle of the room. But there’s a great view and the space is light and open. I think I’m going to like it here. Check back often!

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Personal Space Differs with Cultures

We’ve all heard the Old Wive’s Tale “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away”.  I ask you, if you buy an apple a day will it keep you healthy?  Or….do you need to EAT the apple you buy every day in order to make a difference?  Yes, of course I’m being facetious, we need to eat the apple.  Allow me to use this example to make a point about DISC, the science and the art of understanding people’s differences.

Many of you have been introduced to DISC.  You accept there is a difference in personalities.  You may even be able to recognize someone’s type based on their behavior or appearance:  a C is analytical; an I loves to be center stage and so on…..  That’s great.  Most of you stop there and take it no further.  That’s the same thing as buying an apple, bringing it home and hoping your health will improve!

I challenge you to take DISC to the next level.  Start to subtly change YOUR interaction with each of the 4 Personality Types in order to improve your communication, your relationships and your leadership.

Let’s start with something very simple but yet so incredibly important – the space you allow between you and the person with whom you are conversing.  Are you aware that each of the 4 Personality Styles has a different comfort level when it comes to the space around them?  Are you respecting THEIR requirement for comfortable space or are you staying “comfortably happy” within YOUR requirement for space?

Depending on the Personality Type of the person in front of you, too much space could make you appear distant or aloof. Too little space may have you coming across as inexperienced or unprofessional.  To all Four Personality Types, the RIGHT amount of distance for THEIR comfort level will make you appear polished and competent.

People-Oriented Personality Types are very comfortable standing close to someone, often reaching out to touch the other person to emphasize their point.  To them the close distance confirms acceptance and recognition.

Someone with a Task-Orientation is more comfortable with more distance between them and others.  Their task orientation will be weighing if it is worth their time to get to know you rather than hoping you accept them!

The question that follows is how do you determine the right amount of space required to present you at your best?  As you approach a colleague with whom you plan to talk, position yourself an arm’s length from them and then focus on them:

  • If they take a subtle step back from you at any point during your conversation, however small the step may be, that little step indicates they prefer more space.  Respect their comfort zone and don’t move forward, even if to you it “feels” like you are not connecting with them.  Honor the distance they create and they will be more at ease with you because to them, at this distance, you are displaying something important – an appropriate and professional manner.
  • If the other person moves toward you, they are probably People-Oriented.  If you are uncomfortable with this closeness DO NOT give in to your desire to step backwards toward your comfortable space.  The other person will notice it immediately and, believe it or not, you will have hit them right where it hurts, in their desire to be liked.  As subtle as one step back may seem, to someone who is People-Oriented, your one step backwards may make them feel that you are not comfortable with them.

I know some of you will embrace this experiment.  Others will assume this isn’t worth exploring.  Consider this:  we often get things backwards.  It’s natural to assume that if you feel comfortable with someone they are also comfortable with you.  Not so!

A relationship will only have a chance to develop if the other person feels comfortable with you!  If you are standing too close for their comfort OR too distant for their needed affirmation of acceptance, a Barrier will develop that will hinder or stop a potentially great relationship. Your success with others will blossom when you honor THEIR requirements rather than holding on to yours.

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