Read an Excerpt
By FLORENCE LITTAUER
Fleming H. Revell
Copyright © 1992
All right reserved.
There's Only One You
Everyone wants a better personality. We all picture ourselves on Fantasy
Island, where the ringing of the mission bells transforms us into
articulate, attractively attired aristocrats. We no longer trip, fumble,
spill, or grope; we converse, captivate, charm, and inspire. When the
show is over, we switch off our mind-set and resume our test pattern
of life. As we stare at our blank screens, we wonder why our "situation
comedy" was canceled; why we've been replaced by the new stars who
play their roles with confidence; why we seem to be cast as misfits.
We rush off to personality courses that promise to transform us into
sparkling wits within twenty-four hours; self-evaluation experiences
that will make us into minigods with maxipower; or sensitivity sessions,
where we will feel our way into a fantastic future. We go expecting
miracles and come home disappointed. We don't fit the mold of
the exciting person, bursting with potential, pictured as the norm. We
have different drives, abilities, and personalities-and we can't be
treated as the same.
No Two Alike
If we were all identical eggs in a carton, a giant mother hen could warm
us up and turn us into slick chicks or roving roosters overnight; but
we are all different. We were all born with our own set of strengths and
weaknesses, and no magic formula works wonders for all of us. Until
we recognize our uniqueness, we can't understand how people can sit
in the same seminar with the same speaker for the same amount of
time and all achieve different degrees of success.
Personality Plus looks at each one of us as an individual blend of
the four basic temperaments and encourages us to get acquainted with the
real me underneath before trying to change what shows on the surface.
It's What's Underneath That Counts
When Michelangelo was ready to carve the statue of David, he spent
a long time in selecting the marble, for he knew the quality of the
raw material would determine the beauty of the finished product.
He knew he could change the shape of the stone, but he couldn't
transform the basic ingredient.
Every masterpiece he made was unique, for even if he had wanted
to, he would not have been able to find a duplicate piece of marble.
Even if he cut a block from the same quarry, it wouldn't have been
exactly the same. Similar, yes, but not the same.
Each One of Us Is Unique
We started out with a combination of ingredients that made us different
from our brothers and our sisters. Over the years people have chiseled
on us, chipped, hammered, sanded, and buffed. Just when we
thought we were finished products, someone would start shaping us
up again. Occasionally we'd enjoy a day in the park, when everyone
who passed by admired us and stroked us, but at other times we were
ridiculed, analyzed, or ignored.
We were all born with our own temperament traits, our raw material,
our own kind of rock. Some of us are granite, some marble, some
alabaster, some sandstone. Our type of rock doesn't change, but our
shapes can be altered. So it is with our personalities. We start with our
own set of inborn traits. Some of our qualities are beautiful with strains
of gold. Some are blemished with fault lines of gray. Our circumstances,
IQ, nationality, economics, environment, and parental influence can
mold our personalities, but the rock underneath remains the same.
My temperament is the real me; my personality is the dress I put on
over me. I can look in the mirror in the morning and see a plain face,
straight hair, and a bulgy body. That's the real me. Gratefully, within
an hour I can apply makeup to create a colorful face; I can plug in the
curling iron to fluff up my hair; and I can put on a flattering dress to
camouflage too many curves. I've taken the real me and dressed it up,
but I haven't permanently changed what's underneath.
If only we could understand ourselves:
Know what we're made of
Know who we really are
Know why we react as we do
Know our strengths and how to amplify them
Know our weaknesses and how to overcome them
We can! Personality Plus will show us how to examine ourselves, how
to polish up our strengths, and how to chip away our weaknesses.
When we know who we are and why we act the way we do, we can
begin to understand our inner selves, improve our personalities, and
learn to get along with others. We are not going to try to imitate someone
else, put on a brighter dress or new tie, or cry over the kind of
stone we're made from. We're going to do the very best we can with
the raw material available.
In recent years manufacturers have found ways to duplicate some
of the classic statues, and in any large gift store you may find dozens
of Davids, walls of Washingtons, lines of Lincolns, replicas of Reagan,
and clones of Cleopatra. Imitations abound, but there's only one you.
Where Do We Start?
How many of you have a Michelangelo complex? How many of you
look at other people as raw material, ready to be carved up by your
expert hand? How many of you can think of at least one person whom
you could really shape up if only he'd listen to your words of wisdom?
How anxious is he to hear from you?
If it were possible to remake other people, my husband, Fred, and
I would be perfect, for we set out to chip away at each other right from
the beginning. I knew that if he'd loosen up and have fun, we could
have a good marriage; but he wanted me to straighten up and get organized.
On our honeymoon I found out Fred and I didn't even agree on
I always enjoyed plunking a whole bunch of cold, green grapes
beside me and plucking off whichever one appealed to me. Until I married
Fred, I didn't know there were "Grape Rules." I didn't know each
simple pleasure in life had a so-called right way. Fred first brought up
the Grape Rule as I was sitting on the patio outside our cottage at Cambridge
Beaches in Bermuda, looking out to sea and absentmindedly
pulling grapes off a large bunch. I didn't realize Fred was analyzing my
unsystematic eating of the fruit until he asked, "Do you like grapes?"
"Oh, I love grapes!"
"Then I assume you'd like to know how to eat them correctly?"
On that I snapped out of my romantic reveries and asked a question
that subsequently became a part of a regular routine: "What did
I do wrong?"
"It's not that you're doing it wrong; you're just not doing it
right." I couldn't see that there was much of a difference, but I phrased it his
"What am I not doing right?"
"Anyone knows that to eat grapes properly, you cut off a little bunch
at a time, like this."
Fred pulled out his nail clippers and snipped off a small cluster of
grapes, which he set before me.
As he stood smugly staring down at me, I asked, "Does this make
them taste better?"
"It's not for taste. It's so the large bunch will keep its looks longer.
The way you eat them-just grabbing grapes here and there-leaves
the bunch a wreck. Look at what you've done to it! See all those tiny
bare stems, sticking up all over the place? They ruin the shape of the
whole bunch." I glanced around the secluded patio to see if there was
some hidden group of grape judges waiting to enter my bunch in a
contest, but seeing none, I said, "Who cares?"
I had not yet learned that "Who cares?" was not a statement to make
to Fred, because it caused him to turn red and sigh with hopelessness,
"I care, and that should be enough."
Fred did really care about every detail in life, and my presence in
his family did seem to ruin the shape of the whole bunch. To help me
out, Fred diligently set out to improve me. Instead of appreciating his
wisdom, I tried to sabotage his strategy and subtly change him to
become more like me. For years Fred chiseled and chipped away at
my failures-and I sanded steadily on his fault lines-but neither one
of us improved.
It was not until we first read Spirit Controlled Temperament (Tyndale
House) by Tim LaHaye that our eyes were opened to what we were
doing. Each of us was trying to remake the other. We didn't realize
someone could be different and still not be wrong. I found I am a Popular
Sanguine who loves fun and excitement; Fred is a Perfect Melancholy
who wants life to be serious and orderly.
As we began to read and study the temperaments further, we discovered
we were both also somewhat Powerful Choleric, the type
who is always right and knows everything. No wonder we didn't get
along! Not only were we opposites in our personalities and interests
in life, but each one of us knew we were the only one who was right.
Can you picture such a marriage?
What a relief it was to find there was hope for us; we could
understand each other's temperaments and accept each other's personalities.
As our lives changed, we began to teach, research, and write on the
temperaments. Personality Plus is the culmination of twenty-five years
of seminar speaking, personality counseling, and day-by-day observation
of people's temperaments. This book will provide a quick psychology
lesson in easy, enjoyable terms so that we may:
1. Examine our own strengths and weaknesses and learn how to
accentuate our positives and eliminate our negatives.
2. Understand other people and realize that just because others are
different does not make them wrong.
To find our own raw material and understand our basic natures, we
will examine the personality or temperament groupings first established
by Hippocrates twenty-four hundred years ago. We will have
fun with the Popular Sanguines, who exude enthusiasm. We'll get serious
with the Perfect Melancholies, who strive for perfection in all things.
We'll charge forth with the Powerful Cholerics, who are born leaders.
And we'll relax with the Peaceful Phlegmatics, who are happily reconciled
to life. No matter who we are, we have something to learn from
each of these types.
Your Personality Profile
Before we are introduced to the four different types of temperaments,
take a few minutes to check off your own Personality Profile, which
was compiled by Fred. When you have completed the forty questions
according to the directions, transfer your marks to the score sheet and
add up your totals. If you are a Popular Sanguine and get confused by
columns, find a serious Perfect Melancholy who sees life as a series of
statistics and ask for help in adding up your assets and your liabilities.
No one is 100 percent of any temperament, but your score will give
you an accurate view of your basic strengths and weaknesses. If you
come up with even scores all around, you are probably Peaceful Phlegmatic,
the all-purpose person.
Your Personality Profile is unlike any others, but the general information
in your temperament pattern will be valuable in understanding
yourself and in learning to accept others as they are. As you encourage
your family and friends to analyze themselves, you will open up
new avenues of communication that will be both enlightening and
When you have scored your temperament test, you will have some
idea of your inner traits-your inborn characteristics that cause you
to respond to circumstances as you do. To get a deeper understanding
of the real you, follow the next five chapters and learn something new
When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.
Excerpted from PERSONALITY Plus
by FLORENCE LITTAUER
Copyright © 1992 by Florence Littauer.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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