Many contemporary personality psychologists believe that there are five basic dimensions of personality, often referred to as the "Big 5" personality traits. They are extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. We’ll get into these over the next week. But first we have to talk about the “Why”.
So to understand your kid – but really to understand any human – These are 5 things that start to define them. Where the “Them” is personality.
First, I’m blown away by the concept that the sum of these 5 parts is what makes all of us unique and individual. 8 billion people on the planet and they’re all different.
Second. We often think of the 8 billion other people as being different than us. Take a Mongolian, speaking a different language, growing up in a rural farm, never having heard of the ‘Grand Canyon’ and you think it’s impossible to find something in common. False. There is a Mongolian with these 5 similar personality traits as you. That’s crazy.
And third – like any good engineer I think I can build things and people. And to build my son up I think it’s important to try and guide – not create a personality – but understand my kid’s personality and help him based on what he is.
So what is part number one?
The first factor is “Openness to Experience”. (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious).
Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience.
And I have to jump right in here and say there is no right answer. Your kid may be curious or he may be cautious.
Great for them. Tell them that’s what you love about them. Say, “I love that you request we brush our teeth each night.”
Now you think the right answer is that openness to experience is that the more open you are, the better you are. It’s not true. In this 3 minutes we can’t dive deep enough to explain the differences, so you’ll have to trust this snippet here:
“those with low openness seek to gain fulfillment through perseverance and are characterized as pragmatic and data-driven.”
What does a pragmatic, data driven, perseverance person look like? It may look like Zuckerberg. I don’t know Zuck, but that programmer’s mind he has is data driven. And he’s persevered through a lot – that’s called grit.
So don’t try to mold your kid. Give him or her opportunities and see how they react. See how open they are to experience.
We’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 of the 5 factors of personality.