Sunday, June 12, 2016

CRS Disease: "Can't Remember S---t!"

More information about Joe, Executive VP in a team of four in "Developing a Work Team with the Enneagram."
At a polar extreme from his style Three team mate Sally, Joe  (style Nine) was the most open of four executive team members. "Matt (style Six) and I connect very well and have a lot in common," he said. "Sally and I are so different our relationship is variable -- sometimes good, sometimes strained. Connecting is very important to me, which our CEO Pete (style Five) sees as a weakness, and he's the least likely to give praise or connect with me or anyone else on the team."

Joe's Eight wing was prominent. "Sometimes I'll blow my top. People who know me realize it's never directed personally, and I've also learned -- if I do screw up -- to go apologize. But I'm not the most sensitive person in the world on social nuances. Someone has to hit me on the head, and then I say, 'Oh thanks for waking me up!'" This element of self-forgetting was also evident in Joe's poor memory: "I have CRS disease: Can't remember shit. I think it's an asset in that I don't hold grudges very long, mainly because I've forgotten what happened."

Matt attributed Joe's outbursts of anger to "getting too worn down physically. When that happens things get out of whack. At one meeting he got me out in the lobby and started screaming at me, explaining it by saying, 'This is me, I have to vent.' The next day I told him 'Don't yell at me!'" Sally said "Joe and I have worked out a deal that when he's emotional I go away and come back after he's calmed down." 

Joe didn't remember being discounted as a child; in fact he remembered little of his childhood. But he came into one of our meetings after a visit from his father, and announced, "I saw it! We played golf while he was here and after I teed off he said, 'You call that a drive?' He even made fun of me to some golfers who came up behind us. I realized that kind of remark must have been common when I was growing up." Joe described his mother as "the kind of person for whom the glass is always half-empty. That's also the kind of person I have the most difficulty dealing with: they look for ways to be disappointed because it reinforces their view of the world." 

Style Nine's coping strategy also was revealed in Joe's early, vague focus about his career: "Growing up, I was not an overachiever, and I wasn't very mature going into college. I always knew I was smart, and I knew eventually I'd get my act together, but I didn't have a plan. It kind of fell together. Each year it's more focused. I just wish it had happened a long time ago!"

His distractibility had been somewhat of a problem for Joe in meetings: "Being in a room for two or three hours really stresses my abilities because it's hard to stay focused." He was aware how difficult it was for others to follow his epic tales, but this also had an upside: "Though Joe's lack of focus may sometimes hide it, he is incredibly bright." "Joe's not very structured in his thinking, but he's a free-wheeling idea generator who doesn't have restrictions or boundaries." According to Pete, "Joe has a very long-winded communication style; for example, his voice mail messages are all over the place. He has good ideas, but they're not polished or worked through enough and, if I stop to ask questions, he says I don't appreciate his ideas." 

Joe agreed with Pete. "I need to formulate my thoughts before speaking. I'm seen more as a mad scientist and would like to be seen as a critical thinker. I'd like some help on how to be more controlled, analytical, thoughtful, to be able to sit in a meeting, process information, and speak only to really important issues, with few words. I believe I have a responsibility to stay focused, to make sure the group attains its goals."

He was highly valued by the other team members as "an entrepreneur with good ideas and perceptions, someone with a long-term perspective, extremely well-informed about business and industry issues, an idealist with passionate feelings about making an impact on the world in areas he valued." Joe was seen as open-minded, someone who tried to understand various points of view, but he could also be positioned. "If it's a new idea where nothing already exists, he'll explore things," said Sally, "but if he's thought it through himself he tries to defend his position, sometimes stubbornly."

Joe's loving nature was quite apparent to his team mates, who described him as "fun socially, warm, sincere, charming, and affectionate, more of a feeling person than an analyst." Matt was at ease with these qualities, but Sally said, "We're very different. Joe's a touchy person. Maybe I have too many walls around me, but it makes me nervous." And Pete saw Joe as "someone who needs positive feedback more than most; you can tell when you've said something that's tripped one of his switches, because he gives very strong nonverbal clues that he's shut off." Matt said, "I don't buy Pete's view that Joe needs more feedback than most. He just needs balance instead of only negative feedback."

Finally, others described Joe as having a kind of innocence about his own behavior. "He seems caring," said Sally, "yet sometimes I can't believe how oblivious he is to what's going on around him." Pete had noticed in meetings, "It will be clear to me and others that someone's not listening, and Joe won't see it. For him to hear something you have to come at him pretty directly; otherwise he kind of goes to sleep."

Among other development actions, Joe learned through meditation techniques to focus for prescribed periods of time, and he became much better able to handle long meetings and to present his thoughts more succinctly. In fact, he sailed through an executive MBA program.