The Hand We’ve Been Dealt

I want to finish this series of posts on personality I’ve put together over the past couple of months by giving you an analogy.

To first recap, there are five major personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, openness and agreeableness.

Wherever you lie on the spectrum of each trait – whatever the circumstances that shaped you – this is the hand you’ve been dealt in this game we call life. 

If you’re lucky you may have a couple of aces up your sleeve. Maybe, if you’re not so fortunate, you have a couple of 2’s and 3’s to contend with. 

Maybe, just maybe, you have a royal flush!

However lucky you may or may not be, what matters is less the hand you’ve been dealt but how well you play it.

So I want you to take a long objective look at that hand and think about two things. The first is what game you should be playing. What game is your personality hand best suited to? 

A royal flush may be helpful in a poker game, but different games suit different hands. You might not want a royal flush.

If you’re high in extraversion you’ll feel energised working with lots of people. However, if you’re highly introverted it will exhaust you. You’ll be far better off working alone or with a small group of people.

If you’re high in agreeableness you’ll want to work for people – you’ll gain a huge amount from looking after others. If you’re low in agreeableness you’ll want to channel that competitive nature. 

If you’re highly open you’ll be well suited to entrepreneurship or creative endeavours. If you’re high in conscientiousness you’ll be well suited to managerial or administrative positions. 

Wherever your strengths lie, you want to think long and hard about your intrinsic motivations. If your personality hand doesn’t match your job you will be miserable – if not unsuccessful.

This applies to life partners as well. 

Except for those who are highly neurotic, you want someone with a similar temperament. Opposites may attract but they make for terrible life partners. Major personality differences are flash points in any relationship. 

But life isn’t perfect. Finding a job or life partner that matches your hand perfectly is impossible. There will inevitably be differences. There will be parts of your nature that you will have to shift to make things work. 

So the second thing I want you to do is to take a long hard look at the aspects of your personality that are holding you back. What cards in your hand need strengthening?

For someone high in agreeableness the danger is an inability to stand up for oneself and say no. Learning to be more assertive is an excellent way to combat this.

Those low in agreeableness would do well to work on their listening skills. Someone who is highly introverted should consciously work on their social skills.

Those high in neuroticism should think about the things they are avoiding that they ought to be doing, then practise facing them. 

If you’re low in conscientiousness it’s worth making a detailed plan and then breaking it down. If you’re low in openness you should make reading and writing a habit. 

If you’re extremely high in openness, think about the most essential things in your life and then ruthlessly commit to them. 

Wherever you weakness lie, what you want to do is push yourself outside of your personality comfort zone. That’s how you build character.

The strange paradox here is that by practising what you aren’t, you become more comfortable with who you are.

This is because your identity is self-regulating. Much like the thermostat on you’re air conditioner.

To change the setting of your personality thermostat you have to challenge your identity. The primary benefit comes not from shifting the setting but from expanding the zone – the temperature range – around your innate setting. 

What you’re doing is broadening your personality by breaking down the limiting parts of yourself, the narrative about who you are (or aren’t) that keeps you tightly bound within a narrow temperature range. 

By expanding the limits of that temperature range the real you has the space to breathe and shine through. Because you know you can be who you need to be when the occasion calls for it.

That’s the real trick. When you can change the cards in your hand to suit the game at play, there’s no telling what you can achieve. 

I believe it’s the difference between winning and losing in this game we call life.

Thank you for taking the time to read my series on personality. You can find a link to the other posts below. At some point I’ll attempt to package everything into a small ebook to give away. For now, I wouldn’t mind some feedback if you have any? Did you enjoy this series on personality? Would you like me to do more of the same? Let us know in the comments below.


You can find more of AP2’s writing here at:

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Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot or @PointlessOverT

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13 thoughts on “The Hand We’ve Been Dealt

  • Very interesting and insightful read, AP. I think it’s important as you said to work with the hand that you’re dealt in life – to play on your strengths and to find ways to broaden yourself to maximize your limitations both in work and in life. For me, this definitely applies to parenting as well. Hope you and your family are well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, it definitely applies to parenting as well. Kids have a remarkable way of highlighting our own flaws without meaning to. Nothing has done more for my own personal growth and yet, I still feel well short of where my children need me to be (I’m guessing that feeling is normal). Lots to be proud of – lots to still to be worked on. Always a work in progress.

      My family and I are well thanks Ab – hope you and yours are too! 🙏🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • That self doubt is always there, isn’t it? It keeps us grounded and when we channel that anxiety well, it’s where the takeoff happens. 🙂 Glad you’re all well and take good care.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks for sharing this AP2! How well you play with ‘that hand’ and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone all comes down to you. You can achieve so much when you work and build on your strengths/weaknesses: especially once you throw the joker of the pack (perfectionism) out. Hope you’re keeping well and thanks again for sharing 🙂🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  • Great series, AP! How well I know that you will be miserable in a profession that is not a good fit! I was not born to sell insurance! 🙂 My manager noticed that a big sale did not make me appropriately happy. Teaching was much more fulfilling for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you found your place in the world Cheryl. I do believe, if you can help it, that settling is a mistake should we be unhappy. Thank for your kind words Cheryl 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  • Hello, Beautiful article, especially loved the last part

    “That’s the real trick. When you can change the cards in your hand to suit the game at play, there’s no telling what you can achieve.”

    I am currently doing my 10th and really interested in Psychology too. I love how you combined your profession ( piloting) with this. Can you give me some advice too?, Ex. Which books on psychology you read?

    Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pleased it resonated. Much of this series was taken from a course on personality I did a while back by Dr Jordan Peterson. I’m glad you said that – I have plans to write a book that combines lessons in aviation with modern psychology. As for books you might read – there are loads! Grit and Mindset are good ones off the top of my head. If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, I suggest The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker (Or Worm at the Core which is more modern/easier to read) – really fascinating. Hope this helps 🙂🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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