Step One - “Know Thyself”
When I was a senior, “Know Thyself” was the quote I chose to capture my entire 18-year experience of life on earth and leave as sage advice to future generations of highschoolers. Obviously I was just trying to be deep (and drive home my unhealthy obsession with Shakespeare), and didn’t really follow my own advice until years later. College helped me a bit in this regard, but (as you maybe have found out) it is a lifelong process.
I have always been a painfully self-aware individual, but that has little to do with knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. The thing is, you can’t support another person without understanding where your shortcomings are, and you can’t help someone else without knowing where you excel and what your strengths are. It sounds so simple, but it’s amazing how often I see this mistake.
This probably goes without saying, but if you aren’t good at budgeting, don’t offer to help create a budget for your entrepreneur. Instead, research a few financial advisors that may be able to fill in those gaps. OR if it is a matter of a lack of knowledge and skill, find a class or someone who can show you how to do it.
There are many ways to discern who you are, what your strengths are, and what makes you, you. Discerning which of these tools work best for you will take a little work. I have listed a few good ways below - not all of these have been helpful for me personally, but they have been helpful for other right hands I have interviewed:
This personality test is supported with data from the Gallup Poll, and is a 20 minute online test that results in a list of your top 5 strengths, out of the 32 possible options. It encourages development of your strengths, as opposed to focusing on building up your weaknesses. Personally, I have found this the most helpful for me because it aligns with my strengths, skills, and support way of thinking. You can find more on their website, or purchase the book on Amazon. They have a variety of books that help apply your strengths to different aspects of life. I have found the Strengthsfinder 2.0 great for the basics, but deep enough that I am still learning more about mine, even 13 years after taking the test. I’ll say more about this in future posts.
Arguably the oldest of the “typing-tests” this is an ancient study of personalities that categorizes people into 9 types, while using the inter-connectedness of the types as a further study into yourself. Although there are apps and tests and books to help determine your type(s), it is generally encouraged that you arrive at your type after some more in-depth reading and thought. I have used the Enneagram Made Easy as a good beginning point, but there are several great books on the topic.
This is arguably one of the most well-known personality tests and, although it is not without its issues, it provides a comfortable and easily-understood metric that many find helpful. The idea is that you are one of 16 possible types, choosing one of each of 4 opposite pairs of traits.
Maybe the most direct tool in the list, this assessment centers on four different behavioral traits, the combination of which are categorized into 16 patterns of behavior. I haven’t yet done this personally, but it was mentioned a few times in my research and talks with Right Hands. (Fun fact: the father of the theory behind DISC, William Marston, also created the character Wonder Woman.)
In my research, interviews, and discussion with other right hands, I have come to the not-at-all-scientific conclusion that those of us who are drawn to the right-hand profession land somewhere in the gray areas of the above personality types, particularly because of our duality of strengths; we can become what is needed for the situation and flow into different strengths as necessary. For example, every time I take the Myers-Briggs test I get a different answer. I’m convinced that this malleability makes me a better Right Hand - there are times where I have to turn on the creativity and lean into a brainstorming session, right after I have tightly organized several meetings or invoices all in neat categories. This flexibility is invaluable to my position, but is frustrating for personality grids.
Each step into discovering what makes you tick gets you one step closer to figuring out what you bring to your entrepreneur, so keep track. Write down the results and talk with others to reflect on what you find. It will make you a better right hand.