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The Hand We’ve Been Dealt

I want to finish this series of posts on personality I’ve put together over the past couple of months by giving you an analogy.

To first recap, there are five major personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, openness and agreeableness.

Wherever you lie on the spectrum of each trait – whatever the circumstances that shaped you – this is the hand you’ve been dealt in this game we call life.

If you’re lucky you may have a couple of aces up your sleeve. Maybe, if you’re not so fortunate, you have a couple of 2’s and 3’s to contend with.

Maybe, just maybe, you have a royal flush!

However lucky you may or may not be, what matters is less the hand you’ve been dealt but how well you play it.

So I want you to take a long objective look at that hand and think about two things. The first is what game you should be playing. What game is your personality hand best suited to? 

A royal flush may be helpful in a poker game, but different games suit different hands. You might not want a royal flush.

If you’re high in extraversion you’ll feel energised working with lots of people. However, if you’re highly introverted it will exhaust you. You’ll be far better off working alone or with a small group of people.

If you’re high in agreeableness you’ll want to work for people – you’ll gain a huge amount from looking after others. If you’re low in agreeableness you’ll want to channel that competitive nature. 

If you’re highly open you’ll be well suited to entrepreneurship or creative endeavours. If you’re high in conscientiousness you’ll be well suited to managerial or administrative positions. 

Wherever your strengths lie, you want to think long and hard about your intrinsic motivations. If your personality hand doesn’t match your job you will be miserable – if not unsuccessful.

This applies to life partners as well. 

Except for those who are highly neurotic, you want someone with a similar temperament. Opposites may attract but they make for terrible life partners. Major personality differences are flash points in any relationship.

But life isn’t perfect. Finding a job or life partner that matches your hand perfectly is impossible. There will inevitably be differences. There will be parts of your nature that you will have to shift to make things work. 

So the second thing I want you to do is to take a long hard look at the aspects of your personality that are holding you back. What cards in your hand need strengthening?

For someone high in agreeableness the danger is an inability to stand up for oneself and say no. Learning to be more assertive is an excellent way to combat this.

Those low in agreeableness would do well to work on their listening skills. Someone who is highly introverted should consciously work on their social skills.

Those high in neuroticism should think about the things they are avoiding that they ought to be doing, then practise facing them. 

If you’re low in conscientiousness it’s worth making a detailed plan and then breaking it down. If you’re low in openness you should make reading and writing a habit.

If you’re extremely high in openness, think about the most essential things in your life and then ruthlessly commit to them. 

Wherever you weakness lie, what you want to do is push yourself outside of your personality comfort zone. That’s how you build character.

The strange paradox here is that by practising what you aren’t, you become more comfortable with who you are.

This is because your identity is self-regulating. Much like the thermostat on you’re air conditioner.

To change the setting of your personality thermostat you have to challenge your identity. The primary benefit comes not from shifting the setting but from expanding the zone – the temperature range – around your innate setting. 

What you’re doing is broadening your personality by breaking down the limiting parts of yourself, the narrative about who you are (or aren’t) that keeps you tightly bound within a narrow temperature range.

By expanding the limits of that temperature range the real you has the space to breathe and shine through. Because you know you can be who you need to be when the occasion calls for it.

That’s the real trick. When you can change the cards in your hand to suit the game at play, there’s no telling what you can achieve.

I believe it’s the difference between winning and losing in this game we call life.

Thank you for taking the time to read my series on personality. You can find a link to the other posts below. At some point I’ll attempt to package everything into a small ebook to give away. For now, I wouldn’t mind some feedback if you have any? Did you enjoy this series on personality? Would you like me to do more of the same? Let us know in the comments below.


You can find more of AP2’s writing here at:

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16 thoughts on “The Hand We’ve Been Dealt

  1. This is so important in any consideration of personality typing. It’s just smart practice to figure out what you are naturally good at or how you think to optimize your effectiveness, happiness, etc. But it’s also a temptation to use those same traits as excuses for not improving or working on yourself and getting stuck in a toxic cycle of “well, that’s just the way I am.”

    Your analogy of the thermostat was really good at illustrating how to work out from our comfort zone and I liked how you pointed out specific things that each type might benefit from working on. Great wrap-up to an interesting series!

    1. People often ask if we should we play to our strengths or work on our weaknesses? Of course, the answer is both. Often our weaknesses prevent us from fully realising our strengths. But if we don’t pay attention to our strengths we will be miserable. I’m really pleased you enjoyed the series – thank you for sharing your thoughts/your kind words Gail. Wishing you the very best 🙏🙂

  2. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series of posts. Really insightful and lots to take away. If only everybody could read them and take action, the world would be a much happier place!! Thank you and yes I’d love to read more!

    1. Thank you Cathy – I’m pleased you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed writing/researching it. I’ll have a think about what series I might put together next. Wishing you well 🙏🙂

  3. I have really taken notice to your great writings, and have shared them on my blog. I hope you don’t mind because I have a feeling I will be sharing a lot more!

  4. Love this post and this series, AP2. Especially the guidance – “what you want to do is push yourself outside of your personality comfort zone. That’s how you build character.” Great analogy about the hand we’re dealt and how to think about the game.

  5. This has been a fantastic series! I hate for it to end! Please write more as you feel led. I’m going to review all the blogs in this series and take some notes. So much to ponder to challenge our ways!

    1. Thank you Victoria – that means a great deal. I have a few ideas for future series I might put together. Perhaps the main responsibility of a writer is to challenge the way we think/see the world. Hopefully my work helped a few people do that. Wishing you the very best 🙏

      1. You’re welcome AP2,
        For me as a writer I feel the main responsibility is yes to be open to new possibilities but also to help others with the same. Looking forward to reading more!

    1. Thank you Cheryl – I had fun writing/researching for it. I’m glad you found it interesting Cheryl. My family are very well thank. Wishing you and yours the very best, AP 🙏

  6. I loved the series AP2, it was very enriching and enlightening! About this one, I like the paradox that by practicing what we aren’t, we become more familiar with what we are. I think that in life we should try as much as possible to step out of our comfort zone. It will help us achieving our purpose.

    1. Thank you Cristiana. I’m pleased you enjoyed it. I think, in some ways, we don’t know who we are until we’ve pushed ourselves outside of our comfort zones. It’s a necessary part of growth. 🙏

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