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Weathering the Storm

Posted October 5, 2017 by

All of us face personal storms at one time or another. Any threat to our health, relationships, family, or livelihood can send us reeling. These experiences are transformative, and there’s no shortage of advice for how to get through them. But here’s a new approach: When the storm hits, focus on identifying your motivations so you can understand what’s driving your emotional response. With practice, this will give you direct access to your deepest reservoir of strength. This is the power of understanding your core motivations.

Why Look Inside?
Even though our personal storms seem driven by external events, our capacity to deal with them comes from inside. That’s why the experiences can be so transformative. We learn new things about ourselves—both in terms of how we cope and ultimately prevail. Because prevailing doesn’t always mean defeating a challenge. Instead we may find a new way of being.

In his book, Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami describes it this way:

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because the storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step.”

How you step through it will determine whether you emerge as a bitter or better person.

What Motivations Tell You
I’ve been walking through the storm of Inside8 for four years. I focus on the positive—the talented team we’ve assembled and the great impact we’re having by helping others. However, there have been times when it’s been a struggle. Let me count just some of the ways:

  1. The Inside8 test is a new way to think about and understand personality. We’re up against the old ways, which people consider tried and true. At the end of the psychology program I graduated from, we were told that established approaches to individual and organizational change fail 75 percent of the time. You’d think this would be an industry ripe for something new—but it’s not. People talk about being innovative, but innovation involves risk, and being curious enough to take the time to learn something new.
  2. I’m in midlife and had to learn from scratch how to conceive, start and run an ecommerce company. That’s a lot of vulnerability for someone who’s used to being accomplished in another industry. Thankfully, the Inside8 team knows what it’s doing. But, in the beginning, we encountered more than our share of situations that might have derailed us had we listened to prevailing “wisdom” and not stuck to our motivational core.
  3. We offer value, but some people expect that we’ll give the Inside8 test away for free. That’s because other personality assessments don’t charge. But I openly questioned the value of most of those other tests. Many of them identify characteristics and traits, which is what you do. It’s observable behavior. Maybe folks aren’t self-aware enough to identify their own behaviors, so those tests help them. But we argue it’s almost impossible to change as a person unless you also understand what’s driving your behavior. That’s one step beyond simply observing yourself. You have to start at the root, or you’ll probably fail 75 percent of the time.

I share these frustrations because they reflect the storm inside me. My Inside8 test results helped me deal with these issues in very specific ways. I’m a Primal Originator®. That means I value personal freedom; I’m resourceful, creative and forward-thinking; and have a sense of caring. This is my deepest reservoir of strength.

It also means I can neglect my own needs in favor of taking care of others, take over other peoples’ tasks, and over-plan or become obsessive about details. This is how I can screw up.

Even though I created the Inside8 test, I didn’t know what group I’d be in. I took it multiple times and consistently came out as an Originator. I had to reflect on my results because I thought I’d be in a different group—I had predicted being an Individualist. But as I rewound my life and experiences and viewed them through the prism of the Originator, I knew it was right.

So how does that play out in walking through the storm of creating Inside8? Here are some examples:

For a year, I banged my head against the wall of resistance that, ironically, is called “organizational change” in most companies. I called on contacts in the Human Resource departments of organizations that were clearly in need of a new approach, just so we could demonstrate the effectiveness of Inside8 in developing a highly motivated employee culture. Some people gave us a chance and embraced our new methods. Most couldn’t get past the idea of doing something different.

What kept me going? My resourcefulness and the motivational need to use my creativity in service to others. Even if the business world wasn’t ready for Inside8, we’d find a way to use it to help others—and that’s how the www.inside8.com community website was born. We decided to bypass those who would stymie us because of their inertia, and instead we offered it to everyone.

I changed as a leader. In the past, my need for personal freedom and my sense of caring sometimes overwhelmed my capacity to let others do their work and shine. There are times when Originators want to do it all. But knowing this caused me to purposefully recruit a team with abilities that exceed mine. You can see it in our social media and blog content, which reflect the knowledge and passion of a motivationally diverse group. I’m on guard to keep my eye on the big picture and trust the team to do their jobs. And instead of blathering on about my vision, we brought together a group who saw their own motivations being met by Inside8, particularly in how we help others thrive.

That was a big change for me, and I’m a lot happier and more fulfilled for it. For one thing, I found a more productive way to fill my need for personal freedom: I no longer have the urge to do everyone else’s job. I’m free to be more creative. But I probably wouldn’t have seen it had I not understood my own motivations.

Embracing the Storm
The passage from Murakami’s book concludes this way:

“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about.”

I agree with Murakami about how our personal storms inevitably change us. Where I disagree is in how we can be guided and self-aware through the process of change. After all, if the storm originates inside us, then knowing and acknowledging the deepest part of ourselves holds the key to ending it.

Find out for yourself. Take the test.

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Sean M

Sean Murphy is the founder of Inside8®. He has an M.A. in organizational psychology from Columbia University.

All stories by: Sean M

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