In this series, it’s important to understand that each of the five dimensions of personality exist along a continuum from low to high. And, each of the elements that comprise the five dimensions also exist along a continuum from low to high. Finally, it’s important to understand that in the OCEAN model of personality, there is no good or bad, positive or negative personality profile. Each of the five dimensions and each of the elements contributing to the dimension serve an important role. Effective lives, relationships, roles, occupations come from any combination of these dimensions of personality.
Openness to Experience – what it looks like
High Openness to Experience – The Experiential Life
Bob wrote in his journal:
I have a vivid imagination that enables me to ask what’s possible. Some people think I’m daydreaming. I prefer to think that I’m creating what’s next.
I need literature, art, and music in my life.
This need leads me to need to feel my emotions, not simply talk about them. The variety of emotions are like the variety of melodies in a symphony or variety of colors in nature.
I’m always willing to try different activities, go new places, or eat unusual foods. I actively seek out these kinds of experiences. In fact, I get bored with the familiar and routine. I can’t count how many hobbies I’ve had over the course of my life.
All my life, I have been interested in intellectual exercises. I am fascinated with new ideas. Some people may be uninterested in philosophical arguments and brain-teasers. Not me. I seek them out!
The world I live in is an ever-changing world of ideas. When the circumstances call for it, I’m not intimidated by, I’m even willing to reexamine social, political, and religious values that I’ve held.
Low Openness to Experience – The Conventional Life
My strength is keeping my mind on the task at hand and staying with the tried-and-true. Some people think I have no imagination. I prefer to think that what’s worked in the past still works in the present.
Others may enjoy spending an afternoon in a museum. I can take it or leave it. I don’t think I’m missing out if I don’t go along with others.
If someone asks what I’m feeling, I’m more likely to tell them what I’m thinking. I really don’t think much about my emotions.
I find change difficult. Unless there’s a compelling reason to change how I do something, I prefer to stick with the tried-and-true.
I have an average intelligence, but I have to admit that my curiosity about things is fairly narrow focused. The only books or magazines I read are about topics I’m already interested in.
Authority and tradition are social and political values to be honored. This is true for me in the way I view my role in society, politics and religion.
Openness to Experience – make the most of your unfair advantage.
Both Bob and Jim bring amazing value to their families, careers, and communities. Both are powerful husbands, fathers, friends.
While both men will find themselves occasionally in situations that require them to act in ways opposite to the inclinations of their personality, both men would do a disservice to themselves and to the world they live in if they discounted the power of their unique personality.
There are several actions we must take. The first is to clearly understand our uniqueness – to accept ourselves for who and what we are, and to use our unique power as it is needed for the benefit of those around us. The second action is to understand the inherent liabilities of our uniqueness. Knowing this may enable us to know when to stop and make use of the uniqueness and the power of those around us.
Use what you’ve got. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Make room for others to be powerful too.
I’m eager to hear your reflections. Let me know what you think.
Until next time, press on, men. Press on.