3/15/2013 1:05 PM
By Paul Willgoss
This blog is inspired by a conversation about my latest run, the Cambridge Half Marathon, and one of my many interests—personality models.
My mate expressed amazement at the consistency of my splits. Up to the point where I got tired, they were within 30 seconds of each other. This started a conversation about personalities that has ruminated on in the back of my head since Sunday and has come out of my fingertips now…
Now, my preferred personality model is the Myers-Briggs, which sorts most people into 16 “types”—and yes, 16 is a low number, and no, no one is a perfect example of any type. Those who’ve done the tests (and online versions are just a Google away) should’ve have got a more subtle reading on where they are on a scale of introversion and extroversion and whether they use feeling or thinking to analyse issues.
So where do The Avengers, or even I, come into this?
Let’s start with me. Those who only know me in passing often think I’d be close, in personality, to Tony Stark—I think it’s mainly the heart thing, but occasionally it’s because I can be a bit of a showman and I do love gadgets. Those who know me a bit better often think I’m a bit like Bruce Banner/Hulk—that mix of calm rationality combined with explosive rage. A few see my work with kids and supporting others and try and fix me into the model of Captain America. However, those who know me and how I tick see Thor, a.k.a the God of Thunder—that “see” is without the long blonde hair and chiselled pecs.
Because of the Hulk-like tendencies, combined with the ability to rein it in and release it when I want or need to—often like a bolt of lightning. That control, the ability to keep going solidly often goes unseen by others but for me is vital—it’s the balance to the sense of humour and showman. When I was younger, I was more impetuous, less able to find the control switches.
The Avengers are often used to explain the “types” of personality—as heroes they exemplify the exaggerated view that many would have of each of the types, and being fictional, tend not to have some of the shades of grey that we, as mere flesh and blood mortals, have.
But none of us are single heroes, we are all part of teams. The Avengers are a bunch of people with unique skills and very human personalities. They work—and don’t work—well together the same as any of us working in a team. What really matters is that the results come out right—be it saving the world, or doing some awareness-raising about congenital heart defects. You need the inventors, the brute strength, the tacticians and those who are looking like they are just plodding along steady as they go. It’s only by harnessing those strengths for as long as you need to can you change the world.
What you don’t need to be is friends. You need to be able to put aside differences for the duration of the battle to save the world, or put on a conference, or whatever project you are working on and you need to share a common purpose—but you can cheerfully dislike each other the rest of the time.
The Children’s Heart Federation, the day job and having a social life requires me to have control far beyond what I knew I could have—and all the while I swing Mjölnir, building up the static electricity into those flashes of lightning.
To change the world, I, and more importantly, WE, need a team, stronger than any paper book heroes. So find your Hulk, Cap, Shellhead, Black Widow, Hawkeye, even Thor, as well as a purpose, be it an awareness walk, a piece of guidance, or a change to our healthcare provision, and you’ll have a team of superheroes—including yourself!
One request? Share your stories—this hero lark only works if people know about it and are inspired by it.
Marathon runner, GUCH (Grown Up with Congenital Heart Disease), long-distance hiker, charity trustee, patient advocate and whisky lover—Paul Willgoss is all of these and more. A member of the Most Honourable Order of the British Empire, his efforts both in front and behind the scenes for those with congenital heart defects have been recognized at the highest levels in his native U.K.
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