Some things about us change. Our abilities and preferences can transition and shift according to our circumstances and conditioning. And yet according to Kolbe our conation and our instinctive ability to do, does not. It can be warped by our expectations. It can be hidden by the things we feel we must do. And we can all function in alternatives mode of operation when we need to. But still, there are some truths that are inescapable. And how we can function with the greatest flair and expertise, is one of them. Admittedly we all have our struggles. And life can be mean and difficult at times. But when God said that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in Psalm 139:14 He meant it.
I liked novel approaches. Perhaps that’s why the Kolbe test intrigued me. But more than just tickling my curiosity I discovered it to be extremely helpful and thought provoking. Through a series of questions, the Kolbe test is a quantifiable way of assessing how we are individually and uniquely wired. Although my previous blogs will set the context and background – this blog will focus on unpacking the results a little more. And perhaps the simplest way to do that is to have a guinea-pig to analyse. And so I will nominate (taking the least path of resistance) – me. But in the hope, that by exploring a few of my discoveries, you might discover yours.
When I got my Kolbe results I felt excited. And if I’m honest a tad disappointed. If you have ever entertained the thought that it would be better to be somebody else, looking in to your own reflection does take a bit of grit. But the work of being brave enough to consider what is there before you, wise enough to know that life is a process, and hopeful enough to dare think you could be the person you would like to be – does open-up the way for wonder. My Kolbe test score is 4-4-9-2. I guess in my heart I had hoped to be 7-5-8-3. Funny how that happens.
It’s official. I’m moderately balanced in how I instinctively gather and communicate information, temperate when it comes to working in chaos or rigid structure, weighted more to exploring the unknown for answers, and weighted much less in handling the tangible world around me. It turns out that my main forte is in dealing with change and risk. And to be honest that explains a few things.
Fact-finding – the ability to process and share information
In terms of how I instinctively gather and share information, a Kolbe Fact-finding score between 4-6 reveals a person who is wired to bridge the gap between simplifying things (scores of 1-3) and handling complexity (scores of 7-10). If things are overly simplified, I do have a tendency to think “But…”. And when faced with great complexity, I have noticed that my brain will begin to throw away bits of information as it sieves through for bigger strands to latch onto. But with this balance comes the instinctive ability to discern the most pertinent aspects of a conversation or line of thinking. And the ability to present things to many people in a way most will understand. Paraphrasing, refining, editing and clarifying are second nature to me. And teaching and generating explanations my unlearnt strength.
Follow thru – the ability to organise and design
In terms of how I instinctively organised and design the things around me I’m wired to be flexible with a score that lies in between 4-6. I must admit the extremes do scare me. I’m not great at working in organised mess. My mess is never that disorganized. I can get lost and overwhelmed. But I can struggle when things are overly systematic too. I like a little bit of chaos to break all the rules. So hard-core, highly logical programming will never be my greatest. And I could never conform to following a strict set of procedures without effort and intention. Instead my super-power lies in the tendency to maintain a sense of context and order with a bit of flexibility thrown in. I can fit things together, co-ordinate, identify inconsistencies and draft guidelines without much energy or grump. My life is somewhat ordered but with anomalies thrown in.
Quick start – the ability to navigate through change and risk
My greatest instinct comes to the fore when there’s uncertainty and risk. Lying at one of the extremes (Kolbe score 7-10) I can step into the unknown fearlessly and with minimal stress and energy. In fact, I have an inner drive compelling me to initiate change, improvise solutions, promote alternatives, brainstorm possibilities, defy the odds and originate options. And no doubt this is why I have fun helping businesses and ministries expand into things they have not done before. I can juggling challenge and I thrive on deadlines. But funnily this is not the same as being able to multi-task effectively (I’d need an adaptive Follow-thru score between 1-3 for that). At worst, I might seem a bit impulsive and speedy. But don’t misunderstand this as a desire to be recklessly kamikaze. In reality, I’m just problem-solving – fully aware of time-limited opportunities and with the hope of creating innovation and breakthrough.
Implementor – the ability to master tangibles
Finally, when it comes to implementing solutions, I lie at an extreme here too (Kolbe Implementor score 1-3). And it’s true. I’m not great with tangible physical objects. I’m terrible at building models, often break things, can’t fix them and get blamed for “not looking after my stuff”. I’d never make a great marvel hero or ninja. But I do have a cool instinctive flair that allows me to conceptualize and theorize. I can envision circumstances and can capture the essence behind the visible. I like symbols and I have great fun letting my imagination run wild. It means that I don’t need to be physically close to somebody to feel connected, and you could look terrible but be enchantingly beautiful to me without contradiction. And perhaps that’s why website design and building are so fun. I like creating and problem solving in a slightly more abstracted way. Sadly though, despite working with technology and computers, it means if that your computer hard-drive breaks – no, I can’t help you fix it. At all.
The key to never-ending energy
Helpfully, not only does the Kolbe test explain a few of my quirks, it also reveals how I can avoid burn-out and stay energized. To be most alive, everything I do will need to be fueled by my Quick Start tendency to create change, navigate through risk and innovate. I will be most effective when called to navigate through the unknown. Set me a deadline and watch me burst into action!! Though my action might look a little unexpectedly action-less to begin with.
When I’m in my element, I will begin the problem-solving process by brainstorming first. If you find me sitting around you might wonder if I’m just bumming around. But I could well be in the depths of my work – generating ideas, listing alternatives, considering options, exploring possibilities. (Unless of course, I’m just bumming around). My next most effective step in the problem-solving process will then be to review the data. This is where research and fact finding comes it. You’ll find me with Google and reading and listening to others. And it explains why in my youth, I began to pursue a career in research.
But for me to excel, I ought to then proportion a fifth of my time fitting things together into an organised structure. I’ll need to give coherence to my discoveries. To know if there are any inconsistencies, checking against a bigger scheme. And finally, I ought to spend around a tenth of my time, visualizing and then constructing solutions. So, paradoxically my actual doing where I work and manipulate tangibles might seem tiny!! A tenth of my time for me to avoid exhaustion. But I like to think that time is actually extremely focused and powerful. Wink.
The one remaining thought
Funnily in the end, I was left with one thought. Would I rather be an expert who could gather and absorb countless facts and retain complex intricacies and specifics? Or would I rather have the tendency to equip and teach many others? I must admit, I still think I’d rather be a little more systematic, perhaps a little more cautious and a little more able to weld the world around me more masterfully. But perhaps only by a little. Ironically I found a final hidden, unexpected, discovery: I’ve been secretly wired to rather like – me. And so, I wonder and challenge you to discover your conative tendencies. And if you dare, in that secret of all places, to check if you find yourself wired to like you too.