In 2001, yep, that far back, I had, let’s call it, a little hiccup in my life. No job, no money, single mother. I’d been doing ok, working on projects in the tourism industry but that September, as Ansett Airlines of Australia closed its doors and two killer aircraft achieved the unthinkable, I lost any contracts I may have had.
I had run my own business for several years and planned to take my time with a career change. But the events of September 2001 took away that luxury and I was forced to come up with a new career or let my children exist on a diet of baked beans forever. I didn’t want employment though. I wanted a new business.
Someone asked if I could teach. Sure, why not? I wrote a program around business events and incentives, the thing I was good at, and I took it around Australia and the Pacific. I made no money, and I was hardly at the top of my game, but when I came back I knew I had found something I could love (essential) and I could learn to be good at (also pretty handy).
So I did my TAA (training certificate) and wondered how I would get the experience. I called up a well known training institution and asked if they had any vacancies for trainers. No, sorry she said, the only vacancy we have is for a sales trainer. What do you teach?
After a barely perceptible flicker of hesitation I confidently said, sales.
This was a moment of pure Mango bravado.
When I started training I learned for the first time about different personality types. I don’t know how I’d missed it up until then; those of you in small business will know how easy it is to put self education last. But it marked the beginning of years of study around human behaviour, a subject I find endlessly fascinating.
It’s our behaviour that causes smiles or tears. Our behaviour that engages customers or turns them away. Our behaviour that creates a dysfunctional team or a cohesive one.
With the help of experts, I developed the Ripe Personality Tool, which determines where your behavioural preferences lie, as Apple, Mango, Lime or Banana. This is unashamedly pop psychology, designed to be more complex than a Facebook quiz and less complex that Myers-Briggs. It was crafted to create a simple, blameless language amongst teams.
And I believe it is that simple. Miscommunication is one of the greatest causes of stress in the workplace. And if we learn more about ourselves and those different to us, and respect those differences, you’ll connect more effectively, you’ll have less stress, you’ll get more done.
Anyway, back to me :-) There will be those of you who read my story with horror, and others with admiration (suckers!). The truth is that it’s somewhere in between. The Mango trait of jumping in without thinking can be viewed as confident spontaneity or unthinking stupidity. But that depends on whether your viewpoint is Apple, Mango, Lime or Banana.
Great teams are a combination of all four, because different viewpoints create growth and each one brings different strengths to the table. What’s your team look like? Start whipping up a healthy Fruit Salad.
Lynne Schinella is a conference speaker, trainer, coach and author. Her fruit keynote, Working with People You Just Don't Get, draws on the classic four personality types and explores why we’re different, how we're different and what we can do about it.
Her book Bite Me! and other do's and don't of dealing with our differences provides a more comprehensive profiling tool. We get to take a reluctant look at ourselves and why we don’t make the most of our relationships with others.