The Color Code
By: Peggy Willms
(5 min read)
Personality tests have been documented back to Hippocrates in 460 BC. Even before Jesus? Hippocrates stated there were four temperaments: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Social usefulness, extroversion, analytical/detail oriented, and easygoing.
I can see it. There were clicks of drunks stomping on grapes giggling out loud and getting nothing else done. They are the easy going dudes. Then there were the hard-working explorers hollering, “Finish those, hieroglyphic, Rufus!” Very different people. Okay, I get it.
Then in 1879, along comes Wilhelm Wundt. Father Psychology they called him. Father Psychology? How did he get that prestigious of a title? Father? I mean I understand Father Time or Father God. I shall apologize to the members of “Father Psychology’s” family tree for this – “Come on, even I know there is a difference between the body and the mind. He gets the credit for that? Whoa.”
I have taken about every personality test that exists. After being in corporate wellness for a quarter of a century, you take a lot of tests, and as a wellness leader you conduct a lot of tests. Go, Team (there is that cheerleader in me)!
Remember Myers Briggs? ESTJ here. Imagine Katherine Briggs sitting around with her married daughter, Isabel. They are having a stiff Lord Calvert cup of coffee with a plop of cream from the top of the milk jug Mr. Jacobs left on the porch that morning-delish. In their lil chitchat, instead of talking about the weather or the war, Isabel is like, “Ma, let’s make up this test where people figure out if they are introverts or extroverts. How about one that shows if they have some intuition? And oh, yeah, it will also reveal if they judge people, too.”
Surely, you have taken StrengthsFinders at work? Superduper. Let’s figure out what your skills are, where your passions lie, and then NOT let you do it. Great plan. Welcome to Corporate America. Grrrr. You might not find it shocking that I tested for motivation, positivity, belief, maximizer, and empathy. Cheerleader still in the house! It is soooo hard to be me. Trust me.
Back to more tests. I am sure you have checked out your Enneagram. No judging, but that spaghetti, bowl blob of a mess stressed me out. And then there is the DISC Test. Gross. Not kidding…have we all been forced to learn this at work?
Let’s talk about one of my favorites. The Color Code created by Taylor Hartman PhD, psychologist. It is an assessment that believe it or not I used nearly twenty years ago with employees. We love these personality tests until they give us information we don’t want to hear. Improve our personality or habits? Nah!
The Color Code not only identifies what you do but why you do it. Cool beans. There are four colors: red, blue, white, and yellow. For me, there are certain words that imply certain things. So, when taking the test, of which remember, I was doing with employer groups so I was required to share my results. Oh, yippee.
When I saw my results with a primary of RED, I immediately thought this is not going to be good. I didn’t think of roses or love.
Quite frankly I felt my blood pressure rise. I was about ready to declare to hundreds of people that I was a control freak. Isn’t red the color of anger, hate, and disdain. We are told never to paint a room red. Lawyers are told if you want to command the court room, pull out the red power suit. And guess what, I had one. Oh no! I was a RED.
I was determined to find the good in these results. See, there you go. A DETERMINED CONTROL FREAK.
I told myself to snap out of it. “Peggy, you are one unique chic. Look – only 18.6% of the population are labeled Reds.” Then I read further. “POWER. The need to look good technically, be right, and be respected.” WTH did “look good technically” mean? My shoes needed to match my purse? Come on, man!
“Reds are strong leaders and love challenges.” Okay, I will take that. “Reds are the power wielders.” And it went on again to say for the millionth time…“POWER.” Then a few positive words started to pop up– thank God.
“Reds are extremely motivated and drive people to get things done moving them from point A to point B. They bring great gifts of vision and leadership and generally are responsible, decisive, proactive, and assertive.” I took a deep breath. I thought okay I can defend this bloody thing. Even though I got super hung up on the “generally” word. “Generally” responsible?
It was then time to read about my secondary color. Aren’t you dying to know if it was blue, yellow, or white and what those puppies mean? I know you don’t care, but let’s roll with it. After all, I am damn straight going to drive you from point A to point B. I am a RED, remember?!
I was BLUE. Intimacy is the motivator for the blues and about 40.5% of the population tests blue. Population of what? I always wondered that; 40.5% of what population? I am sure the Alaskan pipefitters missed out on Hartman’s quiz. So, is it 40.5% of Dallas, school teachers, Broadway stars? Who?
Any way. Intimacy is a funny word to me. In To Me I See. That is what I hear when I say the word intimacy. Eeew Gross. My second gross color was now Blue. At this point I am a control freak who is into myself. What a catch.
However, there was a bit more hope with this sucker. Most people like the color blue. I love the sky, the ocean, and my eyes are blue. Blue is calming. And no one – and I mean no one, says, “Ms. Willms, you should be wearing your intimacy Power Blue suit.”
The blue descriptors felt more acceptable. I am a connecter, have purpose, create quality relationships, live by high integrity, and focus on quality. Whoa, and it got better. I have gifts and talents and offer amazing services. It went on further, “Peggy, you are sincere, loyal, and thoughtful.” Hot Damn, I won the lottery of all personality tests.
I then ranked WHITE with peace being the driving force. Followed by YELLOW coming in dead last. Yellow personalities are drive by fun. FUN? What is that “F” word? I was married to a yellow once. He was over the top “fun.” Of the four colors, yellow ranked 90% for him with NO red. He didn’t like to work, pay bills, arrive anywhere on time, or stay committed to his promises. “Peggy, want to play Plants and Zombies on the X-Box?” Oh boy, I had an “f” word for him. He was NOT fun.
The Color Code pretty much explains my day at any given time. I take control of my passions – Go, Big Red. I definitely surround myself with high quality relationships – living in the blue zone there. I do not like to fight and will not allow negativity into my life – there is my peacemaker white. And the yellow fun in my life, frankly, is my work, being in the sunshine, and near the ocean.
Yo, Hippocrates, just a side note, I am a choleric, melancholic mess. What seminar can I go to for that?