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The Answer to the One-Minute Personality Assessment (Goof or Nerd?)

There are a lot of goofs out there! At least that’s what people shared in their emails in response to my last post (Would you rather be a goof or a nerd?). 


This question first came up when I was conversing with the chairman of the board of my old company and teasingly called him a goof. My friend and I said that to each other so often that the “You’re a goof” comment slipped out of my mouth almost by accident. However, the usual smile that accompanied the comment didn’t appear. 

Instead, he shot me an incredulous stare as if I had given the worst blow a person could give and retorted, “A goof??”

 I stammered for a second and attempted a little humor with my reply, “Well, would you rather be a goof or a nerd?” 

He straightened his jacket, cleared his throat, and then proudly stated “A nerd of course!” 

“Oh” I mumbled and didn’t pursue it any further. 

After that, I began quizzing people everywhere. The president of the firm preferred to be a goof. A top salesman preferred to be a goof. A researcher clearly wanted to be a nerd. Another senior executive absolutely preferred to be a nerd. Hmm, I began detecting a pattern. Was it sense of humor? Extroversion? The degree to which one took themselves seriously? 

Then I hit my first anomaly. A life of the party, funny, witty, gregarious, top performer wanted to be a nerd. It didn’t make sense. Everything fit perfectly with him being a goof. After some discussion, he said that he felt like a goof but wanted to be a nerd. 

Ohhh. Different subtleties exist with my new assessment. 

Now, I’ve come full circle. Life is complex and it’s difficult to lump people into a category of personality types, let alone an over-simplistic dichotomy. Having said that, I realize now that the best answer is a both/and, not an either/or. Thus, as my good friend, Reid Walley, stated in his comment, we are all probably a little bit of nerd and a little bit of goof—and we’re better for it that way. 

Most people can behave very goofy at times and can be quite nerdy at other times. It’s a good thing to be that way. Balance doesn’t exist in either extreme. For instance, if you are just a nerd, you might never enjoy the humor and light side of life. Or, if you are only a goof, you could miss out on the satisfaction gained from intellectualism and serious life issues. The answer to growth is in finding balance between the extremes. Therefore, if you find yourself answering in one definitive category, you might want to try cultivating the other side of yourself to stay in balance. Try being a goofy nerd or nerdy goof and feel good about it. The shift can be empowering.

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