Tuesday, October 7, 2008

First, know thyself

I have always been a big believer in the theory of Birth Order. There are plenty of books on the topic, my very first exposure to it was, aptly: The Birth Order Book. My fascination may be completely based on my being an eldest - though all of the tests and internet quizzes clearly have me pegged as an only, for which there is an argument.

Lately, I've had a few conversations with friends about birth order. Maybe there's something in the air and we're all trying to figure out why our kids are the way they are; or, why we are the way we are! In my current circumstance, I'm trying to figure out my own kids as they relate to their siblings as well as their friends and find reasons for why something works and other things don't - this theory works better than most!

As the theory goes, most of us have a dominant birth order personality that matches our birth position. Our personality is influenced by variables such as gender, temperament and other family circumstances. So it is not so much where you are born in your family but how you function that counts. I believe that how a person functions generally correlates with birth position.

Your birth order personality relates both to how you work and what motivates you and also how you relate to people. For many people that means working along different birth order lines. For instance, I am in the oldest of three girls and function as a first born (the good, the bad and the ugly!) and relate as an only; and, Louis is a middle of five kids but the youngest boy. He functions as a youngest but relates to others as a middle. To some I've spoken with lately this is a "no brainer" and totally intuitive, and others think I'm crazy!

Essentially, for me, it boils down to the influence of sibling relationships and expectations of parents define who you are, or who you become, more than any other factor.

Birth order theory outlines four types of personalities: first borns, second borns, only’s and youngests. If you were 3rd of 3 or 3rd of 6 children then circumstances would have meant that you either functioned predominantly like one of these four positions.

Here are the four birth order types and some of their characteristics (this is just a quick summary totally lifted from an article by someone on the internet that I "lifted" and put in a file a while back, sorry, cannot attribute!):

First borns: the leaders, the drivers and the responsible types. These people like to manage others but first they need to manage themselves. They love to feel in control and can feel uncomfortable with surprises or feeling out of their depth. They are conservative in their outlook, which is both a strength and a weakness. Their ability to focus on a goal and their propensity to organise others means they can achieve whatever they put their minds to.

Their tendency toward perfectionism can mean they can be low risk-takers but they can be the rock around which organisations can be built. Approval of authority is important for this group so don’t expect them to rock the boat too much. First borns, above all else, want to forge ahead.

Second borns: the ‘people’ people, the compromisers, and the flexible operators. They are likely to be motivated by a cause and will enjoy working alongside people. They will often choose tasks or even a job that will give them a feeling of belonging. Friendships are important to this group so they will learn to get along and will help keep the peace in a group or organisation. They often need others to drive them but they are the glue that holds groups together. Relationships are important to this group so make sure they included in all activities. Seconds, above all else, put people first.

Only’s: the quiet achievers, the finishers, they expect nothing less than the best. This group will raise the bar for everyone around them as nothing but the best will do. Their great strength is their ability to work for long periods of time on their own so they make great project finishers and strategic thinkers but they can be secretive and don’t deal well with conflict. Recognition is important to this group. Only’s, above all else, aim to please.

Youngests: the initiators, ideas people and the challengers. This group are the creative, live-for-the moment types who can put some fun and verve into activities. While the message for first borns is to lighten up it seems that this group need to take things more seriously sometimes. Great initiators and very impatient doers, they perservere to get something started but often are not the greatest of finishers. This group will often do anything to be noticed so make sure you pay heed to their efforts. Youngests, above all else, will blow your mind.

Which birth order personality do you most closely resemble? Does it match your birth order position? Most of us resemble some characteristics in each position. But which did you nod most vigourously while reading? That will give you an indication of your dominant birth order personality.

Take a few minutes - 10 at most - and go here and put the theory to the test (got it wrong); or here (got it right); or here (got it right).


Beth said...

The first one got it right, 2nd one said middle child, 3rd one said only child. I am a firstborn. I find birth order very interesting as well.

shirley319 said...

The first one got it right, but barely (I scored a 50 and the first borns were 0-50). The 2nd quiz got it right and the last one concluded I was an only child. (Ha, maybe I just act like one)