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Discovering yourself

Clarice Bouwer

Software Engineering Team Lead and Director of Cloudsure

Monday, 27 February 2017 · Estimated 5 minute read

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle

Sometimes I struggle to consciously understand my actions. This makes it hard for me to find out why I react the way I do in certain situations.

In some cases I am proud of how I act but other cases I feel bad and wish I didn't say or do something in that moment.

If I can't consciously identify the trigger, I have less control of my behavior which is often driven by an automated response.


Introspection is a good way to become aware of your behavior. This is where you take time to think about your mental and emotional processes. It can help you identify triggers that cause you to act the way you do. You can become self-aware and consciously change your behavior with time, patience and practice.

Although I believe it is a good daily practice to incorporate in ones life, it can take a lot of time to figure out who you are and what drives your behavior.


Another technique is to capture specific moments, reactions and feelings in a journal each day. It can improve your introspection over a longer period of time.

I struggle to keep a journal but do see the value in doing so as it documents your personality whereby you could draw interesting conclusions to what triggers your behavior over time especially when you have difficulty remembering things.

Personality tests

I generally don't buy into personality tests and quizzes but I was recently exposed to two tests that yielded eerie results - capturing my core personality traits in words that I strongly relate to.

Having taken the tests I have been exposed to a better understanding of myself - a stepping stone to self awareness - which would have taken much longer to achieve through introspection and journaling.

The combination of reports provide information relating to:

  • What makes you tick
  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • Why and how you behave in different relationships and situations
  • Your behavior in teams, leadership and management
  • Your career paths and workplace habits
  • Your growth paths
  • Your blind spots
  • How you deal with conflict
  • How you make decisions
  • How to attain Mastery in your profession


According to Integrative, a South African-based company that provides Enneagram Solutions, the Enneagram is an archetypal framework that offers in-depth insight to individuals, groups and collectives.

It consists of three centres of intelligence, nine main Enneagram types, 18 wings, and three subtypes and Triadic styles.

They go on to say that it does not box in people, but rather opens a pathway to self-discovery and greater personal awareness.

The Integrative Enneagram Questionnaire draws on the collective body of knowledge and experience from many pioneers in the Enneagram field and as the developers of the iEQ9 we would like to acknowledge the experts, philosophers and practitioners for their contribution to the development and application of the model as we understand it today. ~ Dirk Cloete, Founder Integrative9 Enneagram Solutions

There are places where you can take the test for free however the Integrative test is paid for. They offer three reports at different costs depending on how much information you want to gain from the test.

The nine Enneagram types include:

  1. Strict Perfectionist: The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic

  2. Considerate Helper: The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive

  3. Competitive Achiever: The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious

  4. Intense Creative: The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental

  5. Quiet Specialist: The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated

  6. Loyal Sceptic: The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious

  7. Enthusiastic Visionary: The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered

  8. Active Controller: The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational

  9. Adaptive Peacemaker: The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent

They are labelled differently depending on the institute but revolve around the same principles. The above are labelled by Integrative while the descriptions come from enneagraminstitute.com.


This test is free but has premium content that you can pay for if you so choose. The free content is extensive, very informative and eerily accurate.

In fact, at the time of writing they actually mention that you get a 'freakishly accurate' description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.

As the name suggests there are 16 personality types each with its own acronym broken down into 4 categories:

Note for the acronyms:

These are the five personality aspects. They define the personality type when they are combined.

  • Mind - Introversion (I) or Extraversion (E)
  • Energy - Intuition (N) or Sensing (S)
  • Nature - Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  • Tactics - Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
  • Identity - Assertive (-A) or Turbulent (-T)

The Identity aspect underpins all personalities, showing how confident we are in our abilities and decisions. They elaborate on this in their theory.


  • Architect: (INTJ Personality) Imaginative and strategic thinkers, with a plan for everything.

  • Logician: (INTP Personality) Innovative inventors with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

  • Commander: (ENTJ Personality) Bold, imaginative and strong-willed leaders, always finding a way – or making one.

  • Debater: (ENTP Personality) Smart and curious thinkers who cannot resist an intellectual challenge.


  • Advocate: (INFJ Personality) Quiet and mystical, yet very inspiring and tireless idealists.

  • Mediator: (INFP Personality) Poetic, kind and altruistic people, always eager to help a good cause.

  • Protagonist: (ENFJ Personality) Charismatic and inspiring leaders, able to mesmerize their listeners.

  • Campaigner: (ENFP Personality) Enthusiastic, creative and sociable free spirits, who can always find a reason to smile.


  • Logistician: (ISTJ Personality) Practical and fact-minded individuals, whose reliability cannot be doubted.

  • Defender: (ISFJ Personality) Very dedicated and warm protectors, always ready to defend their loved ones.

  • Executive: (ESTJ Personality) Excellent administrators, unsurpassed at managing things – or people.

  • Consul: (ESFJ Personality) Extraordinarily caring, social and popular people, always eager to help.


  • Virtuoso: (ISTP Personality) Bold and practical experimenters, masters of all kinds of tools.

  • Adventurer: (ISFP Personality) Flexible and charming artists, always ready to explore and experience something new.

  • Entrepreneur: (ESTP Personality) Smart, energetic and very perceptive people, who truly enjoy living on the edge.

  • Entertainer: (ESFP Personality) Spontaneous, energetic and enthusiastic people – life is never boring around them.

Labels and descriptions taken from 16personalities.com.

My final thoughts

As I have been experiencing Imposter Syndrome it has been difficult to internalize my accomplishments, acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses and understand why I act the way I do in certain situations.

Having done both personality tests I am one step closer to understanding myself more. I believe that discovering myself is a life-long journey but this stepping stone is a true eye-opener and very useful for self improvement.

There are certain personality traits that I have that highly affect my experiences of Imposter Syndrome and being conscious about it I can make more rational and deliberate decisions when I put my mind to it.

I believe that if you are able to understand why you do things the way you do, you can deliberately improve your behavior especially in pressured situations. It can improve your productivity, the way you communicate with other personality types, team dynamics and leadership qualities. Amongst other things.

Taking the test alone won't yield much results. It just highlights possible triggers and can make you more aware. It is a good guidance report to get you on the path to self-awareness. Daily introspection is still important and journaling could aid as improvement documentation.