Character and Personality: Humility

humility When conducting workshops on complex projects, a common question is, “What characteristics must a leader have?” Let’s cover several of the important character traits. The first is humility.

Conversations around this word can be all over the map. When asked for synonyms for humility, responses have included “submissive,” “quiet,” “unassertive,” and “cautious” – to name a few. Let’s see if some clarity can be brought to the situation.

“To Serve”

We can take a peek at humility by looking at samurai. “Samurai” means “to serve.” Samurai were humble. They knew their limits and worked within them. Get the picture? If not, maybe it will become clearer by looking at one of my favorite quotes, which happens to be anonymous:

“There are two types of people in the world – those who are humble and those who are about to be.”

Humility has less to do with affect (how we look to the outside world, e.g., quiet) and more to do with awareness; specifically awareness of one’s limitations. One reason that teams develop is humility. Together we can work beyond our individual limits. Being humble, we can also pay attention to real boundaries and calculate how to push on them.


This all sounds well and good. But isn’t there an element of truth ringing in the words “submissive,” “unassertive,” etc.? No.

The meaning of humility may become clearer when compared to the word it is commonly confused with – humiliation. There are two parts to the meaning of each word. The first part is the same: “To go to a small place.” It is in the second part where the words differ dramatically. With humility I choose to go to that small place. With humiliation… you probably have guessed it… I am pushed there by someone else!

Nice People Apparently Doing Bad Things

These definitions are morally neutral. Let me explain. You might know of a couple going through the following situation: One member (A) of a couple gets the job offer from heaven. The problem is that it requires uprooting and moving to another city. This can humiliate the other partner (B), who might ask, “What about me?”

Assuming A is free of any malicious thoughts of manipulating B, B still is saddled with an unfairness that needs to be addressed. The challenge of interdependence is present. B is going to have to take a risk in order to work interdependently with A.

Fast-Paced Organizations

This issue shows up on the job on an almost daily basis. When a company says they are fluid, flexible, fast-paced and will work to meet or exceed customer needs, a set of questions comes to mind. For instance: “Is the leader humble?” and “Does the leader watch for potentially humiliating situations and work with those who get pushed there?”

The principles by which the leader lives come into play. In navigating through change management, there is a need for the leader to be steadfast, open, and available. The leader stays humble and stable – serving as a reference point for those who are feeling a bit humiliated, as well as those who are getting to stay on their chosen path. Both groups of people are part of the success.

The Payoff

It is hard to overstate how much humility, combined with interdependence, contributes to creating a powerful team. Trust is present, which fuels a feed-forward (instead of a looking-back-and-wondering-what-happened) frame of mind. The awareness of limits leads to better decision-making, so not only is the team moving faster, but there is also a higher probability of sustaining success.

So, the next time humble pie is being served, consider asking for a second slice.

Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at

If you’d like to submit a Jungian-focused blog on working with different personality types (in professional or personal settings), please contact Jennifer Rojas, our Blog Editor, at

Wherever I Go, There I Am: Romance and Jung

My Romanceromance and jung

“And thus began my ‘hero’s journey’ – alone in a foreign country with no job, no car, not knowing enough of the language, no support system, savings dwindling, a broken marriage, trampled self-esteem, and racked with shame and disappointment.

This is where we left off at the end of “Wherever I Go, There I Am, Part 1“.  I will eventually talk about what happened after that and the entire process and journey that led me to “finding my a$$ with both hands.” But for now, let’s flash forward about 5.5 years to the present day.

I will describe this in my own hopeless romantic way: I met the most amazing man! When I think of all of the things that had to line up and occur over the past 10 years (including meeting my ex-husband and my whole world inevitably falling apart) in order for Ben and I to find each other, it FEELS like nothing short of a miracle.

My life partner is someone who I couldn’t have conjured if I’d tried – “on paper” he’s the perfect blend of left and right brain (archaeologist, scholar and musician). He looks like a “bad boy” but I’ve never met someone more kind, generous and loving. And it’s all the things that are not “on paper” that make him so right for me.

There’s a certain quality about our relationship that not only includes trust, connection, openness, respect, and affection, but also the kind of “mind reading” and being on the same wavelength that makes us feel like kindred spirits. Almost daily, one of us will quip with a smile, “Get out of my head!”

Let me step back from my little romance novel now. As I’ve continued on my learning journey down the Jungian psychological typology path, I began to wonder, “As an ENFP, why on earth does my relationship with an ESTJ work so well?”

Not that I want to question it, mind you, but according to the whole type attributes that I’ve read about, one might believe that we’re doomed. That there are too many conflicts within our personality types for us to truly “get” one another. Or, at the very least, this partnership would be a very difficult uphill battle. So what gives?

Jung’s Romance

Ben and I actually took the Jungian type-based Majors PT Elements personality assessment individually and discovered that our personalities are, on the surface, opposites. In fact, I was shocked to hear that, statistically, there’s only about a 16% survival rate for relationships with only one letter (one aspect of type) in common!

To find out how is it possible that I can be in such a fulfilling and easygoing relationship with someone who is virtually an opposite, I went to our resident expert on Type, Gary Monti, and we did a podcast on Jungian personalities in relationships using our assessment results as a framework. Gary walked me through the reasons why it has been possible for my partner and I to form such a solid, positive relationship.

Gary explains that it’s very easy to “label” people based on native type and not delve deeper. When you get the full story of a person, it becomes apparent that the nuances of personality affect how they actually and fully operate in the world and in relationship with self and others. In the case of my specific romantic relationship, Ben and I choose to delight in our diversity – rather than throwing “you should be like me’s” at each other.

I point out that we do have some areas of tension, as all couple do – and that we communicate about them respectfully and don’t try to change the other person. Or we poke fun at each other while accepting our differences and navigating them. We learn from each other, and it’s not always easy.

Gary stresses that the “spirit” of how one comes to the assessment is critical. The purpose is to delve into each other’s personalities – not for “getting the goods” on the other person or using their scores against them. The approach should be about humility and vulnerability, and being willing to make some changes. There is space for the couple to discuss the difficulties they’re having AND to celebrate each other. This principle applies as well to families and business teams.

Gary discusses specific areas in which Ben and I score similarly, despite our different whole types, and we discover that it is these areas of overlap that contribute to our sense of being completely understood and accepted by the other partner. These meshes are, in fact, what allows us to risk being fully open with each other. This openness, in turn, creates a sense of safety that takes the relationship further and deeper than any other relationship in which we’ve each been.

Getting into the “nitty gritty” of type, let’s take a look at just a few of the specific areas where Ben and I overlap, and how that plays out in our relationship:

Ben is T (Thinking) and I’m a big, fat F (Feeling). But Ben shows much more adaptability into the F function. What this looks like is that Ben comes to me. He genuinely works to relate to me as an F. This has been such an important component of how we relate to one another that I believe if he did not show that F attribute so strongly, it would be far more difficult for us to “get” each other. It would be really difficult for me to feel as connected as I do with him. This makes a huge difference in how our relationship IS vs. how it could be if that one component of our personalities were more divergent.

With the J (Judging) vs. P (Perceiving) function, it’s the other way around: I can move into the Judging functions much more easily than Ben can move into the Perceiving functions. Gary aptly points out that there are times when I let Ben take the reigns, so to speak, and trust his take-action judgment even if I don’t have all the options analysed. I’ve picked up on when it’s time to curb my “one million options” enthusiasm a bit.

We capitalize on our diversity and respect each other. It’s powerful. It’s not to say we don’t get annoyed with one another, but our desire to “thrive and connect” comes first.

The 8 Majors Jungian Process Scores

Gary goes on to discuss the real-time measures of the 8 Majors Jungian Process Scores. This is a measure that no other Jungian-based personality type assessment uses! It addresses the 4 ways we can get information and the 4 ways we process information. Our individual results showed that Both Ben and I scored similarly on Insight (Introverted Intuition). This is one more example of how whole type is not a prison sentence, in that one wouldn’t necessarily expect such a high score in this area from an ESTJ. This common ground created a quick and early bond between us as we created a world of meaning – having serious conversations about everything. It’s a deep behaviour, so we entwine very readily on this.

Extroverted Feeling, the ability to relate, is also high in both of us. Instead of getting angry at each other, Ben and I get curious about each other. We approach each other with admiration. Our differences enhance our lives when one person more readily draws from a different pool of strength. It makes us a better team as we offer each other’s competencies as complements in order to move towards our collective goals.

This piece of the Majors PT Elements assessment can actually be used to indicate where some personal work would really pay off in enhancing a relationship. Hope can be offered to clients with these 8 process scores to be able to DO something about any issues of concern or conflict.

Some Words of Caution and Encouragement

Gary points out that it’s dangerous to pigeonhole people by their native whole type. An unethical example of this mis-use would be in hiring or firing situations in organizations. Jungian assessments are not to be used as screening tools for hiring. Using them in this way could, for example, completely illegitimately exclude someone from jobs when they may have just had a recent negative experience that has nothing to do with how they would interact with a new team.

These personality assessments are meant to encourage the person to be open about themselves in the presence of a life coach, change manager, therapist, teammates, spouse, etc. Bottom line: it’s a discovery tool – not a screening tool.  

Thank you, Gary, for helping Ben and I understand, in the true spirit of diversity, WHY our relationship works so well! It’s extremely powerful to find out who you really are and use that knowledge in personal and business relationships to help improve human interaction on so many levels.

Listen to the full podcast here for more details and to find out more about how the Majors PT Elements could help you better connect with yourself, your partner, your family or your business teams.

Do you have your own story about personality type in your relationships? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others and build connection, please feel free to contact Jennifer (also our Blog Editor) at

Suicide Survivors: Interview with Chris Pinkelman of TCN Behavioral Health Services, Inc.

TCN1We recently interviewed Chris Pinkelman, Associate Director of Clinical Services at TCN Behavioral Health Services, Inc., who works with colleges and universities to help at-risk students adapt and integrate into college life.

During this conversation – part of our suicide survivors podcast series – Chris explains that there are many stressors and risk factors for young adults who are leaving home to attend university, and who also live with mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety.

Green County, Ohio, has the most colleges and universities of any county in the state. Because of pharmaceutical advances, many at-risk young adults are now able to go away to university. However, these advances translate into more students coming onto campus without a support system. For instance, Chris highlights how some students may feel a sense of shame and not take their medication. Or they may have difficulty navigating the insurance procedures in order to fill their prescriptions.

As a community behavioural health organization, it was natural for TCN to make a connection with these universities. He describes how TCN would get calls for crisis interventions – e.g., students who stopped taking medications, a death by car accident, the death of a member of a sports team at home for vacation.

TCN knew it was important to be able to talk to staff and be available to students, but the organization didn’t initially have relationships with anyone on these campuses. They needed to connect with counseling and health centers in order to begin building relationships and increasing awareness.

Chris shared that one of the keys to success in providing a support system was the health care provider getting in with the schools and working with the residence assistance programs. Students working in the Health Care Coalition were tapped for creating videos, brochures, etc.

TCN, in conjunction with college and university assistance programs and staff, along with city, county and state services, was able to create a series of recommendations that can help parents and students prepare ahead of time to facilitate integration and lower risks.

TCN, as a suicide prevention coalition, feels it can make a big difference if campus professionals and students know that there is a resource as part of residence life, and included in orientation for freshman – e.g., the kinds of warning signs that could present themselves to indicate that a fellow classmate, dorm mate or roommate might need help.

Students and parents working ahead of time can help reduce the sense of shame that can occur with mental illness and addiction. This is especially important if the community lacks an understanding of the difficulties.

To hear more about this important program, listen to the full podcast here.

If you are feeling suicidal or need help for yourself or someone you know, please consult IASP’s Suicide Prevention Resources to find a crisis center anywhere in the world. In the US, call toll-free 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a free suicide prevention service or visit

Are you a survivor of suicide or a professional who works in the suicide prevention field? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others or build connection and awareness, please feel free to contact Jennifer Rojas (our Blog Editor and General Manager) at

Wherever I Go, There I Am (Part 1)


Aurelius Press is all about forging connection amongst people. This connection is based on “the story” – your story, our story, your client’s story. Thus, I’d like share a bit of my personal narrative here, which will help illuminate what ultimately brought me to Aurelius Press. While the details are unique to my specific experience, it is my hope that there are elements of my tale that many of you will find familiar to your own journey.

FIVE (5) years ago, I arrived in Israel with 3 suitcases, a lap top, a cat and the wrong husband.

I had, for the previous 5 years, been fighting a long, protracted and demoralizing immigration battle to bring my husband back to the United States. Not only was it a very challenging case, but the one official in charge of reading and deciding our case let it sit for two years before arbitrarily deciding he just didn’t want to read it. Which meant another legal action on my part – just to get the person to read and decide.

Of course (in retrospect), the decision was NO. Which ultimately led to a last ditch attempt to bring my husband and me together in the same place so we could finally begin our life as a married couple – 5 years after we were married. Israel allowed us to do that. So, after about a year of planning, I gave up a 10+ year job, my home, and my entire support network of loved ones.

I flooded even more financial (I’d already gone bankrupt) and emotional resources into making my marriage work, and arrived in a foreign land, knowing only the Hebrew I’d learned in grade school. With no work lined up. No people connections. But I was gonna make this work! I was going to show “them”! I’d already poured everything into this mission of getting my husband back, one way or another, one country or another. I was going to make it happen, against all odds.  I was going for broke. For love!

Turns out, once we had the opportunity to live together for more than 2 weeks at a time on vacation in a Central or South American country, it became very clear that we were not the right people for each other. Not only “not right” – but very, very WRONG. I’ll spare you the gory details, so let’s just say it involved a heady (and now right-there-glaringly-in-my face) mix of emotional abuse and manipulation, dishonesty, unbridgeable cultural gaps, disrespect and complete loss of self-esteem. Certainly, not love. Within 6 weeks of finally coming together on the same soil, we were done. DONE. After all that…

There followed many a plea from loved ones over Skype from 5,000 miles away to “Just get on the first plane and come home… Your job will take you back… You only went there because of him, so there’s no reason to stay…” You get the picture.  My immediate, superficial reaction was that I couldn’t go back because I was just too ashamed. Horrifically mortified. After all that time and effort, people expected a happy ending. People who were so supportive (even knowing we were wrong for each other), people who helped us financially… I couldn’t face them. I couldn’t bring myself to let them down with my epic failure.

And yet, there was something else (besides embarrassment) – something deeper – that made me stay to find out what would happen. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time, but now I get it. One of my friends and former colleagues, a wise man (and sometimes a wiseguy!), Gary Monti, lovingly and repeatedly asked me the question, “Who’s the one person who’s always present at every problem you have?”

And I ultimately had to accept the notion of an old quote that Gary likes to reference:

Wherever I go, there I am.

And thus began my “hero’s journey” – alone in a foreign country with no job, no car, not knowing enough of the language, no support system, savings dwindling, a broken marriage, trampled self-esteem, and racked with shame and disappointment.

Gotta start somewhere, right?

Stay tuned for what followed…

Do you have your own story about things falling apart and your plans going awry (and what you did after that)- personally or in business? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others and build connection, please feel free to contact Jennifer (also our Blog Editor) at