This is the seventh of a series of eight articles on ‘Productive Thinking’. The series aims to address the challenges that Muslims face on many different levels when it comes to productivity. These levels include: the mental, emotional and physical levels. This series will tackle thinking and mindset on the mental level; negative emotions like anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, fear, etc. on the emotional level; and habits on the physical level. (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 8)
This article will explore the DISC behaviour profile and offer solutions on how to overcome associated self-sabotage to maximise your productivity and actualise your potential. It also includes an exercise that will help you identify your real values.
Behaviour Styles and Self-Sabotage Patterns
Your behaviour profile, or personality profile as many people like to call it, is a profile that indicates how you normally see the world and function. I think calling it a personality profile is restricting because the profile does not define who you are as a person. Besides, your personality is a combination of your values, beliefs, identity, habits, attitudes, motivations and emotions. Behaviour profile mainly shows your unconscious thinking style, behaviour and communication styles. It shows how you behave under certain situations and shows your strengths and weaknesses (areas of improvement). Behaviour can be changed, but if you say this is my personality and this is who I am, then your behaviour becomes your identity and it becomes a challenge to change.
The purpose of this section is to highlight the aspect of productivity that people rarely talk about and are unaware of: The four major behaviour styles and how each style affects productivity. It is often what we are not aware of that trips us up.
Imam Sakhawi said: “Whoever knows themselves knows their Lord”. It is only through knowing ourselves that we learn to appreciate the wisdom of our Creator. It is even more than that. It is through knowing ourselves that we can maximise our strengths, mitigate our weaknesses and reach our full potential.
By knowing the different behaviour profiles, you will get insight into why some people have challenges seeing a vision or setting goals for themselves and why some people have challenges following through.
“And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.” (Qur’an: Chapter 30, Verse 22).
It is from Allah’s wisdom that people are created to be different, everyone with his/her strengths and weaknesses, so we all learn from and complement one another and work together. It is about knowing where your strengths lie and maximising them, then learning the strength of others and how they think and view the world, so that we can model different aspects of their behaviour to achieve our higher purpose. The key is to be flexible in our thinking and action.
“The first step towards change is awareness,” says Nathaniel Branden, author of The Psychology of Self-Esteem.
For the sake of simplicity and for the purpose of this article, I will be generalising quite a lot to make the behaviour profile and patterns simple to understand. There are so many levels to this and many nuances and combinations, which is not within the scope of this article.
The DISC profile includes four main behaviour profiles:
- Dominance: the type who wants to win
- Influence: the type who wants to be liked
- Steadiness: the type who wants to be comfortable
- Conscientiousness: the type who wants to be right
An individual has a behaviour profile that is a combination of at least two types and at most three, but he/she can usually be identified by one dominant type.
Please keep in mind the following three thinking patterns (motivators) as we move forward:
• Moving away or moving towards (Pain/pleasure motivated)
• Detail or big picture thinker
• People-oriented or task-oriented
[D]: Wants To Win
They are big-picture thinkers. They are competitive, decisive and results-oriented. They like to be in charge, like change and challenges. They are very much ‘moving towards’ motivated, i.e. motivated by the possibilities of their goals and visions. They do not usually care about what others think of them.
The reason they can be very impatient at times is because they process information visually, and as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. And that is also the reason they talk fast.
They can sometimes come across as being rude because of their bluntness. They are prone to make snap decisions and can be perceived as very opinionated, self-centred, impatient and demanding. Their greatest fear is loss of control.
[I]: Wants To Be Liked
They are lively, energetic and optimistic. They seem to get along with everyone and are spontaneous and good at influencing others. They are people-oriented and like to be around people.
Their preferred mode of information processing is by listening and that is how they learn best. They can also be inattentive to details, overly talkative and emotional. They can be perceived as impulsive and careless. Their greatest fear is social rejection.
[S]: Wants To Be Comfortable
They are laidback, calm, helpful and patient. They are very loyal, eager to help and are often great team players. People tend to open up to them because they are patient listeners and have a gentle, caring nature. They are motivated by pain, i.e. always moving away from what gives them pain.
They often move and talk slow because they interpret their world through feeling and physical contact. They learn best by doing things hands-on and physically walking through something. They tend to stand closer to you than the other types and if you are the type who wants to be right, they will really bug you because you feel like they are invading your personal space.
Because of the fact that they like to be comfortable, need security and stability, they do not like change. They can be perceived as indecisive, slow and stubborn. Their greatest fear is loss of stability and security.
[C]: Wants To Be Right
They have very good attention to details and are very logical, analytical and precise. They tend to focus on tasks and make sure that things get done correctly. They value and produce high quality work. Most “perfectionists” are of this type.
They usually talk to themselves. They can have the characteristics of visual and auditory people, but their preferred mode of processing information is thinking. They want things to make sense.
They may also get stuck in details, tasks and tend to lose the big picture and sometime cannot see the forest from the trees. They can be perceived as too critical, pessimistic and even cold. Their greatest fear is criticism of their work.
Sabotage Patterns of the Four Styles
[D]: Wants To Win
- Too controlling
- Too blunt
- Takes on too many projects too often
- Frustration with details/red tape
[I]: Wants To Be Liked
- Makes too many promises
- Not following through to completion
- Talks too much
- Gets distracted too easily
[S]: Wants To Be Comfortable
- Not saying ‘No’
- Being too nice
- Being too stubborn and inflexible
- Needing to see the whole staircase before taking the first step
- Too much planning and no action
- Slow to make decisions and needs social proof
[C]: Wants To Be Right
- ‘All or nothing’ approach
- Gets stuck in details
- Drowns in research
- Analysis paralysis
- Overly critical of people and opportunities
- Wanting a lot of proof before deciding on something
Now that you know why you do these things that get in your own way, you have to stop doing them. But how do you stop? Well, that is another article in and of itself (Show your interest in the comments and I will write a bonus article in the future, In sha Allah!). So, the short answer is to just be aware of your style and how you get in your own way of success, and sometimes that is enough to create the change that you need.
A Recipe for Success: Be-Do-Have Model
This model helps you succeed by determining who you need to be (your values and beliefs) to do what you need to do (vehicle/job) to have what you want to have (your vision).
You should start with the end in mind (what kind of life do you want to live?) and by asking yourself: What type of values will support you to take action or behave in ways that will get you there?
- If you want to be successful in business and your ‘moving away’ value is rejection, then you will have a hard time achieving success because business involves talking to people with the risk of being rejected.
- If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then comfort and freedom will have to go for the first few years, at least.
- If you value freedom, family and contribution, you might want to be entrepreneurial and start your own thing.
- If you value safety, significance, contribution you might want to be a doctor or engineer, the traditional ‘Muslim’ type careers.
- If you are spontaneous, fun-loving, talkative and bubbly, you might want something that gives you variety and the chance to talk to many people and brighten their day and life.
Identify Your Values
- Use this list of values.
- Work out your ‘moving towards’ values by answering: “What has been most important to you in life?”
- Work out your ‘moving away from’ values by answering: “What feeling do you want to avoid the most?”
- Prioritise those values in a way that would support you in achieving your vision.
- Consciously, set your rules for both moving towards and away from values.
Align Your Values, Vehicle and Vision
Vehicle: Your field of study, career, profession or business; your endeavour through which you experience your values as well as realise your vision.
Vision: Your end goals
Remind yourself that anything is possible. Nothing is too big for the Lord of the worlds to grant you.
In this beautiful hadith qudsi, Allah says: “O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more than a needle decreases the sea if put into it.” [Muslim]
If you are reading this, it means you have access to the Internet. Do not limit yourself to only serving your local community. Think big. Think global.
Practical Strategies to Sabotage Self-Sabotage
1. Start With Istikhara
2. Get Rid Of:
a. Seeking approval from people and the disease to please.
b. Stories and dramas that you always keep telling yourself
This could be for attention and significance: “Hey, I’ have this problem. I have had it for a long time and because of this I cannot do anything else. Look how miserable I am. I cannot change, though I prayed and made dua and tried so many times.” Or some variation along those lines. You need to stop talking about it altogether. The more you talk about it and tell people about it, the more attention you get, the bigger it becomes and the harder it is for you to get rid of it and change.
Or it could be because you want to be right, to prove to someone that you are right. Let me ask you this, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?”
3. Be Clear On:
a. Your values
b. What you stand for. “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” — Malcolm X
c. Work out what your non-negotiable matters are. What will you no longer tolerate about yourself/your actions? What will you no longer tolerate from your environment?
4. Have a Clear Vision
I would like to share my thoughts on what will help you be clear about your own vision and goals.
The Qura’nic model is clear: Our vision has been set by our Creator . Our end is jannah, to see His Countenance . The same applies to our life here. We have to start with an end in mind, a vision.
Your vision (for yourself and how you want your life to be, to mean) is not something that will just be revealed to you. It is something you discover, decide and define, and then recover and refine. For some of us, or most of us, it is a recovering process from being put down, laughed at or made small by the environment that we grew up in for wanting something different. It is an ongoing process, but a decision has to be made. It is okay if your vision is not clear at the start.
People talk about aiming high when it comes to vision and living this life and getting to the next. That sounds nice, but I want to make it practical. I want to share with you a model on AIMing high and reaching high.
A: Attention (to people, things, environment), awareness (of self and others), action
I: Intention, investment (time, money, energy), implementation, improvement
M: Model, mentor (coaches), mind-set (psychology), methodology (strategy)
Start paying attention to what interests you, what makes you happy and what excites you. What are you passionate about? What were your childhood dreams?
Awareness is the first step to change. Start becoming aware of your own behaviour patterns.
Start taking action on things that you normally sit around and watch; start participating in different activities or discussions. Without action, there is no result or feedback, hence no movement or improvement. You cannot steer a car that is not moving. Movement creates clarity. Are you a pond that is muddy, rotten and stagnant or a fresh free-flowing stream that is calm, clean and clear?
Well, this one is obvious. Actions are by intention. Our ultimate intention is to please Allah and to serve His creation by becoming the best version of ourselves.
The best investment you can make is in improving the space between your ears.
Take your personal development seriously:
– Invest in personal or life coaching. Get rid of all the unnecessary baggage that you’ve been carrying around all these years.
– Invest in online webinars and seminars.
– Invest in books and audiobooks.
Leaders are readers and the first Qur’anic revelation was Iqra’ (read). As believers, we have no excuse. If you do not like reading, find out the reason behind that and work on it. Often, people associate reading and the “pain” of reading with their childhood traumas and stress growing up and going through school systems that are usually unaware of and have no regard for the differences in information processing and learning styles of individual students. So, students have been conditioned to think that they are ‘stupid’ just because they can’t learn something at the first try. Invest in reading courses and speed-reading courses. Read anyway!
Refer to “Action” above. Implementation is effective action: putting plan to action through perspiration, patience and prayer.
Follow-up action should be constant.
Prophet Muhammad is our best example. He is our perfect model. The same principle applies when it comes to productivity and potential. Once you have some idea of your vision and your vehicle, start looking for your models. Who is succeeding at what you want to do?
Research and find out about people who are successful in the areas that you want to be successful in. Get in touch with them, find out if they can mentor you or coach you. Why reinvent the wheel?
In the words of author Charles Jones, “In five years, your life will be the same except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Your models don’t necessary have to be physical live persons in real life; they could be models through their books and lectures.
Mindset and Methodology
Change or transformation is very simple. There are only two things you need to change: Your perception (the way you perceive things) or your procedure (the way you do things), or both.
Changing your mindset is the 20% that makes 80% of difference. Investing in improving your mindset will help change many of your perceptions and awareness. On the other hand, investing in modelling after a mentor will take care of the methodology part, because you will learn what works and what does not.
In this article, we learned about different behaviour profiles as a second cause of self-sabotage and explored practical strategies that provided insights and solutions to overcoming self-sabotage.
In the next article, we will learn about self-esteem and self-worth as another source of self-sabotage and how learning to improve your self-esteem will help you get rid of many behavioural and productivity problems and challenges, In sha Allah.
So, which of the four behaviour profiles describes you the most? What kind of changes would you like to implement to stop yourself from getting in your way to success? Let us know by sharing below!