I took a personality quiz recently (don’t you love those things?) called the Action and Influence Survey, and my profile came out as a “Supportive Specialist.”

Supportive Specialists are a great help when it comes to getting a task accomplished. They influence others through kindness and cooperation. These people enjoy being involved in a task that is a challenge but do not like the feeling of having too many issues floating around at the same time. Supportive Specialists will be good at getting the details of a task accomplished and helping people work together while the task is being accomplished. They desire some realistic expectations from others regarding what needs to be done. Sometimes they will not operate effectively if the task is too ambiguous. Although not always true, Supportive Specialists will generally be the most effective at taking another person’s ideas and making sure they are implemented. They think more in concrete terms and will be more effective if ideas are explained in such a way that makes practical sense. They are indispensable to a group when it comes to getting a job done efficiently.

Let’s put it bluntly: I get shit done. And I take pride in that! Not to say that I don’t have flaws, but I’m pretty good at following through with what I say I’m going to do.

Some of the negatives in my profile that jumped out at me, though, are the points that I don’t like the feeling of having too many issues floating around and that I may not operate well if the task is too ambiguous. Those are definitely true for me. I’ve written before about how I struggle to dream big enough to set goals and I think this second point pinpoints why.

But as for the first, being in the workforce, especially in my current role, has pushed me to create coping mechanisms, and I think I’ve done so well enough that I almost thrive on having a lot of moving pieces in my day!

On any given day at my current job, I wear a lot of hats. I sit at the reception desk, meaning I am open to near-constant interruption, from volunteers and donors coming in, visitors asking questions, and my co-workers bringing me tasks to do. On top of that, though, I am expected to do bigger picture creative and detailed work; namely, writing checks, managing the database of donations, and crafting acknowledgment letters that tell our story.

Some days I feel like my brain is going to ooze out of my ears if someone brings me one more piece of paper that needs my attention.

That’s the feeling of having too many issues floating around: brain melt.

So what do I do?

I make lists. And then I can crystallize the numerous issues floating around into individual issues that don’t seem so overwhelming anymore. And I take the issues one at a time and I get. Shit. Done. That’s what I bring to the table in my relationships, in my home, in my jobs, and in my “extracurriculars.” I freak out a little bit, and then I get to crossing things off the list.

And sometimes, true to my introvert nature, I just simply withdraw. I do tend to enjoy having a lot going on, but there are things that require more focused concentration, like writing. It’s easy to do all the things that need my immediate attention and never settle in to give those bigger picture things my attention, because I do find crossing things off the list so satisfying. This past Friday I got rare permission to go work from a coffee shop because I haven’t had a chance all year to update the content of the general acknowledgment letter we send when someone makes a donation. I’ve been pulled all over the place by a chaotic food pantry order, the installation of new network printers, etc etc etc. So I got an iced coffee (the Special Blend from San Francisco Coffee is delicious!), stuck my headphones on and wrote for an hour and a half.

I don’t have the need or ability to laser-focus like some introverts, but I do obsess over projects when I first start them. I tend to lack the ability to stop something in the middle. This is a problem sometimes because it means that if I don’t have time to write an entire blog post, say, I won’t start writing one at all, because the thought of having to leave it unfinished for a time is so odious to me. I’m not that good at taking advantage of small bits of time to chip away at things. I’m a little bit all or nothing. But it also means that by the time I dive into something I’ve usually agonized over it and put so much thought into all its details that I’m able to carry it out pretty quickly.

So for all my hemming and hawing all year, I wrote two acknowledgment letter templates at the coffee shop.

And on Monday I was ready to dive back into the grind of the freezer repairman coming, the donations being processed, the volunteers needing assistance, and the phone ringing, ringing, ringing.

It’s all about balance.

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman