The First Nations Medicine Wheel Brings Understanding to African Students

As readers of this blog know, I’ve been looking for ways to build a bridge between Personality Dimensions® and First Nations people in a way that respects their culture.

Some while ago Terry Maynard (PD Level II) and during that conversation, I mentioned my interest in developing materials that would make a natural bridge between First Nations peoples and Personality Dimensions®. I was surprised to learn that Terry had already done some work with a group of aboriginal youth. I don’t know why I was surprised at this; Terry’s passion is for working with youth and he always seems to be doing creative and innovative things to engage them. In addition to the materials that he had prepared to work with the youth, he also sent me an article that I want to share with you – “The First Nations’ Medicine Wheel Brings Understanding to African Students.” Yes, that’s right; no wonder I have trouble getting him on the phone sometimes – I usually expect that he’s somewhere with a group of youth in Northern Ontario; it seems that he was recently in Africa!

~Denise Hughes

 

“As a young eagle which direction would you fly, east, north, west or south?

Image1This was a question posed by Joesph McQuabbie, Chief of Parry Sound Ojibwa. Joseph was in my Employment and Career Counselling program at George Brown College and was asked to share how First Nation Elders counsel their young people in career directions. This question was part of an hour-long story describing the four cardinal directions of the First Nation’s Medicine Wheel. It was a fantastic contribution to our class on Diversity.

Years later, as a Group Facilitator for an Outdoor Leadership Camp, I was again exposed to the Medicine Wheel. This time by my supervisor, who specialized in Shamanic Teachings, and used the Medicine Wheel as a team building and leadership development tool.

It was then that I recognized a striking similarity between the Medicine Wheel and the four personality styles of Personality Dimensions®. What amazed me was that the Medicine Wheel was developed thousands of years before the first European record of personalities by Hippocrates in 400B.C.

People new to personality styles often have a challenge remembering the different styles. However, with the styles associated to a cardinal direction and earth element, it seems easier to remember and relate. For example, I was asked to lead a Personality for Career Direction workshop with a group of Swahili-speaking female students at a secondary school on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa. Not only was the language translation a challenge, but introducing the concept of individual personalities was also difficult. This was a culture with a community perspective and the idea of individual personalities was foreign.

Figure 1
Terry Maynard facilitating the Medicine Wheel of Personalities

I presented personalities through a modified medicine wheel made on the ground with rope and rocks. The four directions were Kijiji’s (Villages) each living out a behaviour of one of the four personality styles. After hearing the translator share Joseph McQuabbie’s story of the Young Eagle students were asked to “fly” to the village most like them:

  • Kijiji of the East, where people think up new ideas
  • Kijiji of the North, where people are consistent and responsible
  • Kijiji of the West, where people are busy building things
  • Kijiji of the South, where people care for one another
Figure 2
Students reading attributes of their Kijiji (village)

Upon arriving at the villages the students would read a short list of attributes for the villagers and either remain at that village or fly to another. Once they settled on a village they were given a list of occupations related to that village. The occupations suited to each village were the lists of careers from the Career Dimensions component of Personality Dimensions®. With permission from CLSR, I had the list translated into Swahili and modified to make the occupations relevant to Africa.

The students loved the Medicine Wheel activity. For the first time in 10 years of working with these students it became obvious that they were starting to dream about their future. Instead of fixing their career idea on what they were exposed to (doctors, teachers, nurses), they now dreamt of new possibilities such as computer technician, truck driver, helicopter pilot, even self-employment.

Figure 3
Senior students of Makomu Secondary School, Mt. Kilimanjaro

There is no doubt in my mind that the First Nation’s Medicine Wheel is an effective method of presenting personalities to people of diverse cultures and backgrounds.

(Photos courteously provided by ABCD – Art Building Children’s Dreams, Mt. Albert, Ontario www.abcdrams.ca)

 

By: Terry Maynard

terryAbout the author: After a successful 10-year career in corporate training for one of Canada’s top banks, Terry started Unlimited Worth. Since 1995, Terry has specialized in helping young people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds develop their leadership skills in his Outdoor Therapy programs. You can reach Terry at terry@unlimitedworth.com.

Relating Personality Dimensions® to First Nations Teachings

“First Nations understood personalities 3,000 years before the first European documentation in 400BC”

This statement seemed to grip the attention of a First Nations group of workshop participants. As part of the Personality Dimensions® introduction and history, I show how the First Nation’s Medicine Wheel described four types of people very similar to the styles described by Personality Dimensions®. Including this connection at the beginning of the workshop helped the participants quickly understand and remember the four colour styles. Within minutes the group was “talking in colour” as if it were second nature.

I made it clear to the group that I am not a First Nations descendant, nor have any authority regarding First Nation’s teaching. I explained that I wanted to show how First Nations were advanced in the understanding of personality over modern discoveries.

Here’s how I made the connection…

 

The Four Villages

Instead of introducing Personality Dimensions® through the Party Game exercise that uses the four Poster Cards, I used summaries of the four villages (personalities) from the First Nation’s Medicine Wheel. Here are the four Village Posters:

 

 

I asked the group to stand by the Village Poster that they relate to the most or find most interesting. After participants explained their attraction to each poster I asked them to take the poster from the wall revealing the associated Personality Dimensions® Poster Card, then I introduce each of the four personality preferences.

 

 

 

 

 

History

As a transition to the temperament history slide, I share the observation that First Nations observed four primary types of people in their Medicine Wheels 3,000 years before Hippocrates.History-of-PD

 

Circle of Self

I adapted the Circle of Self activity to create a tent card using Medicine Wheels to create pie-chart representations of the participant’s Personality Dimensions® Scores. This provided an on-going connection between their Personality Dimensions® results and the Medicine Wheel.

Circle-of-Self

 

Personality Mastery

One of the Medicine Wheel’s teachings that I value very highly is the importance of being aware of all the Cardinal Directions (personality styles) and being able to move in and out of these directions when needed for the greater good of the community. In relating this to Personality Dimensions®, I used the term “Personality Mastery.” A fellow facilitator, trained in Shamanic Ways, believes that when a person possesses Personality Mastery they become like an Elder in their community.

The group seemed to embrace personality styles very easily by visioning the four cardinal directions in the Medicine Wheel. The quest for Personality Mastery also helped to avoid “colour bashing” since it was part of their culture to respect all the personalities (villages).

 

Conclusion

If used respectfully I think the Medicine Wheel is a natural interface for Personality Dimensions® in First Nations communities. Even when I use the Medicine Wheel story with non-First Nations groups, giving it proper respect, I find it makes a tangible connection to the four Personality Dimensions® styles, something very helpful for the kinaesthetic learners in my workshops.

By: Terry Maynard

terryTerry has over 20 years of experience in delivering personality styles workshops in Corporate Training,  Human Resources, and Youth Leadership settings. Through hard work, a relentless drive to create, implement and improve effective techniques, Terry uses his unique capabilities in learning systems and understanding of people to harness the “unlimited worth” in people. Get in touch with Terry through his website at www.unlimitedworth.com.

Personality Dimensions® – Continuing Education Units

Did you know that Personality Dimensions® qualifies for Continuing Education Units through a couple of professional associations?  These can benefit you as a professional, and serve as an added value to your clients who take your programs.

CPHRFor those of you in Alberta, you can earn 24 CPD hours with the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Alberta. They have approved 24 CPD hours (Continued Professional Development) for members who have completed the Personality Dimensions Level 1 Certification Program.

mpcGet a group of mortgage professionals together, and teach them how to develop their “Personality Radar.”  The Mortgage Professionals Canada has re-approved 4 Continuing Education Credits in 2018 for members who have participated in a Sales Dimensions™ workshop delivered by a Personality Dimensions Certified Trainer.

More details on these opportunities can be found at: http://www.personalitydimensions.com/ceus

 

Most importantly, let your professional associations know that you want to earn Continuing Education Credits for yourself and your clients with Personality Dimensions®.  Are you a professional organization looking to offer more opportunities for your members?  Contact bwhitehorn@clsr.ca and we can make it happen.

Personality Dimensions® – We’re More than Personality!

CLSR Logo_colourPersonality Dimensions® was officially launched 14 years ago, after many years of research and development; but did you know what else helped influence its development over the years?  Personality Dimensions®  is published by CLSR (Career/LifeSkills Resources Inc) – a company now located in Aurora, Ontario Canada.  We’ve been in Career Development for a long time; our company’s Founder and Director, Denise Hughes has been in the industry since 1974.

While Personality Dimensions® is a great tool to use for Career Development, Career Management, Professional Development; however we recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to resources.  That is why we publish and distribute a variety of different resources for different needs.  If you are looking for Assessments, Videos, Curricula, or Workbooks, we’ve got you covered!

 

Molly
Molly Hughes, Office Dog, and Head of Human Resources.

Have a look at www.clsr.ca to see the variety of resources we carry.  Got any questions? Give us a call at 1-877-680-0200.  While you’re at it, check out our blog on Career Development Resources http://clsresrources.wordpress.com.  If you find yourself in the area, drop by to see what we’ve got, and spend some time with the office dog, Molly.