Personality Types

Matching the right personality to the right job, task or partnership can make all the difference in the world!

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Here we have three distinctly different personalities: the Sparklebrain, the Linear, and the Cross-Dominant.
Each of these can be too nice, too mean, or in-between. It takes time to learn the differences.  
Which of these three personalities fits you? Your spouse? Your boss, children, neighbors, even your pets?
Read on . . .
The First Personality is the Sparklebrain
Sparklebrains are artistic, creative, idea people. They can be found zipping around, high on caffeine, starting projects left and right—but never quite finishing any of them. Following up is not their strong suit, to put it mildly. Bubbly, happy, and as enthusiastic as fireflies during mating season, Sparklebrains shower everyone with laughter, lightheartedness, and spilled drinks.
Sparklebrains make our world beautiful, interesting and exciting. They bring us gorgeous things: beautiful cars, cool-looking computer equipment, fine fashions, offices that look like operating rooms, and those cute little sweaters for dogs. Sparklebrains are trend-setter, motivational speakers, cheerleaders, procrastinators, and psychics.
Somewhere on another planet, Sparklebrains have fun taking only those jobs where they can start things. They just hire a couple of finishers and they’re done for the day. (Hey! Idea! An employment agency that sends out starters for some projects and finishers for others! Oops—sorry—I sparkled!)
Here’s how Sparklebrains plan: They envision a project, skip step one, start at step two, pause to visualize their goal (step twenty-three), go into a mild depression because they are not finished (before they even begin), forget where they are (because they are in too much of a big honking hurry), put off step three until tomorrow (which is about where they’d be anyway), abandon the rest of the steps, curse themselves out, and end up at step twenty-one. They drive everyone crazy, but somehow they create fabulous projects overall because they’re so creative and because they’re so great at enlisting others to finish their work for them. Whew! You can breathe now.
Do you know any Sparklebrains?
Famous Sparklebrains include Robin Williams, Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, Shirley MacLaine, Tinkerbell, Richard Simmons, and probably just about everyone in Hollywood.
How to Spot a Sparklebrain
Sparklebrains start many projects but finish few.
Sparklebrains are highly creative, emotional, and social. Work can wait—until it’s his or her turn to be in charge, and then everyone had better be working!
Sparklebrains are easily distracted. (Oh look! Post-its come in earth tones now!)
Sparklebrains change subjects quickly and often, and then forget what they were talking about. They’re constantly asking you, “Where was I?”
Sparklebrains do well in the fields of entertainment, sports, party planning, modeling, hosting, as office receptionists, motivational speakers, TV talking heads, actors, socialites (does that pay?), fashion, and in all kinds of creative, glamorous, sparkly jobs. Almost everyone in Hollywood is a Sparklebrain.
When Sparklebrains are organized they have lots of original ideas, and they work especially well with people who are willing to follow them around and clean up after them. They have colorful offices, delight in serving on committees, and create welcoming work places. They like being part of a group; they get a lot done when there are people around.
When Sparklebrains are disorganized they become upset. Nothing gets created, they are sick a lot, they lose papers, samples, and swatches, and they are late to meetings and events. They change the original plan completely, and the objective becomes unrecognizable. You can help by agreeing with them on the goal ahead of time, and then gently guiding them toward it.
The Second Personality is the Linear
Linears are the opposite of Sparklebrains. Some people call them pluggers because they just keep plugging away.
We need Linears to keep us grounded, honest, and able to access the Internet. Linears are the finishers of the world. In fact, Linears spend lots of time finishing what Sparklebrains start. Linears like things simple and straightforward. Really, really, straightforward.
You know that U.S. Postal Service motto that states, “Neither wind, nor sleet, nor rain, nor dark of night can keep us from delivering your junk mail”? That’s a good Linear motto. Nothing diverts them, even when you wish it would.
Here’s how Linears plan: They set up the steps they are going to take, figuring them out ahead of time and in the correct order, and then they proceed toward their goal. They do not miss any steps. They keep moving in a straight line. If they make a plan, they stick to it. On the other hand, if you make a plan, they ignore it unless it happens to match their plan.
When Linears are organized they work quietly, and they often prefer to work alone. If they run across a problem, it will divert them only until it’s solved—then they get right back on track.
Most Linears can find anything in their offices. It might take a few minutes, but it’s there and they’ll find it eventually.
When Linears are disorganized it’s because they have made too many plans, all of which take more time than they thought. They go into a kind of Alternate Universe where time doesn’t matter to them, and they’ll take as long as they need to finish each project. You cannot rush them, so don’t even try. Weeks turn into months, even years, and the original project still isn’t done and nobody knows why. But you do. Help our fellow Linears by re-prioritizing due dates on less urgent projects for them.
Do you know any Linears?
Famous Linears include Mother Teresa, Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Carter, Dilbert, Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, the men who built the Golden Gate Bridge and Charlie Brown (he keeps trying to kick that ball; keeps doing exactly the same thing, in the same way, every time, even though he knows Lucy is going to snatch it away).
How to Spot a Linear
Linears are intentional, dependable, logical, methodical, and reliable.
They will rarely do what you ask unless they were headed down that path anyway, or unless they see the logic in it. Then they will get to it in their own sweet time. Not yours.
If you try to change plans on a Linear, it won’t work. They will stick to the original plan. They can’t help themselves.
Linears are always there for you. They are always there, period. Except when your network crashes; then they’re at some computer convention and can’t hear their cell phones ringing.
Linears work well with any system or person that stays the same. They’re even happy to wear the same shirt every day. You might find them wearing mismatched shoes, however, because they were too busy going over the Pythagorean Theorem one more time in their heads while they were getting ready, and because shoes are just not important in the grand scheme of things.
Linears make good engineers, computer designers, programmers, architects, mechanics, mathematicians, researchers, electricians, teachers, plumbers, and scientists. Almost everyone in Silicon Valley is a Linear.
The Third Personality is the Cross-Dominant
The Cross-Dominant is a hybrid of the Linear and Sparklebrain. A Cross-Dominant might be 80 percent Linear behavior and 20 percent Sparklebrain, 60 percent Sparklebrain and 40 percent Linear, or any other combination of the two.
Two Cross-Dominants can be as different as night and day. A Cross-Dominant who is 85 percent Linear and 15 percent Sparklebrain can see the entire scope of a project in advance, and can direct others to achieve resounding success. His Linear traits enable him to finish sixty important things before breakfast. He will probably die of exhaustion unless he becomes a very good delegator, which is a really, really good idea for all Cross-Dominants.
Another Cross-Dominant might be 50 percent Sparklebrain and 50 percent Linear. She’s bubbly, outgoing, and wears those wild earrings—but, surprise! You can always count on her to do exactly as she says. Yes, she leaves early, but did you ever notice that she gets three times as much done as anyone else? That’s why she gets raises and praise consistently.
Cross-Dominants can use either side of their brains, and often use both sides at once. Their compassion and sensitivity are tremendous, and when they focus on constructive tasks they can move mountains. Cross-Dominants have a “bigger vision” of what’s going on, much like the view from an airplane.
Here’s how Cross-Dominants plan: They look first at the main objective, then fit the rest in like puzzle pieces, filling this over here and matching that over there, figuring out what will work and what must be rejected. They are experts at triage.
When Cross-Dominants are organized they make great directors, managers, and leaders. Everyone follows them naturally, because their common-sense ability is so attractive and—well, so common-sense. They know how to view both the big picture and the small details at the same time, and they can make all the parts blend seamlessly. They also get a lot more done in a day than either a Sparklebrain or a Linear, in spite of the amount of time they spend helping other people achieve their goals (which is way, way too much time). They are natural nurturers, but they often forget to nurture themselves.
When Cross-Dominants are disorganized they feel as if they’re at the tail end of a game of crack-the-whip. Their minds are rapidly switching back and forth from detail to overview, from their own needs to other people’s needs, and from Project A to Project Z. With all this going on they feel like they are hanging on for dear life. Be understanding, and try not to get in their faces.
Most Cross-Dominants didn’t ask to be leaders, they just sort of ended up with the all of the responsibility and all of the power, and they are always mystified at how much there is still to be done. And most of them try to do everything themselves.
Do you know any Cross-Dominants?
Famous Cross-Dominants include Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, Martha Stewart, Buckminster Fuller, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Feynmann, Bill Clinton, Oscar Wilde and George W. Bush.
How to Spot a Cross-Dominant
You can spot Cross-Dominants by what appear at first to be mood swings, but if you look closer, they’re just switching hats faster than Bartholomew Cubbins. They can see farther, figure out more sooner, and cover more ground faster than either a Linear or Sparklebrain. Imagine Martha Stewart directing people to meet a dozen deadlines at once, and you’ll be thinking on the right frequency.
Cross-Dominants handle so many projects at the same time that they need a laptop to back up their laptop. They have so much information in their heads that it’s easier for people to walk up and ask them a question than to do the research themselves, which is why people interrupt them with questions all day long, which is why they’re so grouchy.
Cross-Dominants are not exactly the most patient people on earth. You can recognize them by the way they roll their eyes, suck their teeth, hiss, and mutter, “Jeez!”
Cross-Dominants know exactly how they want things done, but they end up trying to do everything themselves “so it’ll get done right.” If it turns out wrong they blame you, forgetting they took the project out of your hands a long time ago.
Cross-Dominants think nothing of picking lint off the carpet while giving a presentation. Appearances mean little to them. I know one surgeon who uses a plastic dish-washing tub as a briefcase.
Whatever needs to be done, Cross-Dominants do it as a matter of course. Go ahead; let them pick away. While they’re working out that wedgie, they’re probably also working on World Peace.
Cross-Dominants can be found working as pilots, astronauts, surgeons, entrepreneurs, inventors, philosophers, or in other “visionary” professions. Think “Renaissance person,” and you’ve got the general idea.
You can always count on Cross-Dominants to have reasons for everything they do. You can also count on them to forget to tell you their reasons—they think you’ve received them by osmosis. After all, that’s how they figure things out, so what’s taking you so long?
A Shortcut to Identifying the Personalities:
Since it’s possible to run into a grumpy Sparklebrain or a delightfully outgoing Linear, it’s easy to be fooled.
To cut to the chase, first ask them if they are a starter (Sparklebrain) or a finisher (Linear). That should clear things up pretty quickly.
If they say, “Well, I start a lot of things but I don’t finish much—only what I’m interested in,” they’re a Cross-Dominant for sure!