Relating Personality Dimensions® to First Nations Teachings
By: Terry Maynard
First Nations understood personalities 3,000 years before the first European documentation in 400BC
This statement seemed to grip the attention of a First Nations group of workshop participants. As part of the Personality Dimensions® introduction and history, I show how the First Nation’s Medicine Wheel described four types of people very similar to the styles described by Personality Dimensions®. Including this connection at the beginning of the workshop helped the participants quickly understand and remember the four colour styles. Within minutes the group was “talking in colour” as if it were second nature.
I made it clear to the group that I am not a First Nations descendant, nor have any authority regarding First Nation’s teaching. I explained that I wanted to show how First Nations were advanced in the understanding of personality over modern discoveries.
Here’s how I made the connection...
The Four Villages
Instead of introducing Personality Dimensions® through the Party Game exercise that uses the four Poster Cards, I used summaries of the four villages (personalities) from the First Nation’s Medicine Wheel. Here are the four Village Posters:
I asked the group to stand by the Village Poster that they relate to the most or find most interesting. After participants explained their attraction to each poster I asked them to take the poster from the wall revealing the associated Personality Dimensions® Poster Card, then I introduce each of the four personality preferences.
As a transition to the temperament history slide, I share the observation that First Nations observed four primary types of people in their Medicine Wheels 3,000 years before Hippocrates.
Circle of Self
I adapted the Circle of Self activity to create a tent card using Medicine Wheels to create pie-chart representations of the participant’s Personality Dimensions® Scores. This provided an on-going connection between their Personality Dimensions® results and the Medicine Wheel.
One of the Medicine Wheel’s teachings that I value very highly is the importance of being aware of all the Cardinal Directions (personality styles) and being able to move in and out of these directions when needed for the greater good of the community. In relating this to Personality Dimensions®, I used the term “Personality Mastery.” A fellow facilitator, trained in Shamanic Ways, believes that when a person possesses Personality Mastery they become like an Elder in their community.
The group seemed to embrace personality styles very easily by visioning the four cardinal directions in the Medicine Wheel. The quest for Personality Mastery also helped to avoid “colour bashing” since it was part of their culture to respect all the personalities (villages).
If used respectfully I think the Medicine Wheel is a natural interface for Personality Dimensions® in First Nations communities. Even when I use the Medicine Wheel story with non-First Nations groups, giving it proper respect, I find it makes a tangible connection to the four Personality Dimensions® styles, something very helpful for the kinaesthetic learners in my workshops.
About the author: After a successful 10-year career in corporate training for one of Canada’s top banks, Terry started Unlimited Worth. Since 1995, Terry has specialized in helping young people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds develop their leadership skills in his Outdoor Therapy programs. You can reach Terry at .