Success at Work Starts with Understanding

By Ellen & Daniel Borowka – Excerpt from Cracking The Personality Code

Have you ever looked carefully at a seed? It’s really amazing to see what is in a little seed. This may help us to learn more about what is inside of us and those we work or live with. For in some ways, we are much like the seed and its growth process.

A seed is made of an embryo, that is, a baby plant that has all it needs to grow, develop, and blossom into what it was created to be. The embryo has the materials to develop its leaves, stems, and roots to gather needed nutriments from water, light, minerals, and such to produce food and pro-vide support for itself. That’s what we’re like when we’re born. We have all we need to be who we were created to be—all the unique qualities, talents and knowledge that is needed in the world.

The Seed and the Pod

Now the seed has another part that it needs for its growth, and that’s its seed covering or pod. The pod provides protection, support, and nutrition to the seed during the growth process. It provides food for the seed until it can produce food on its own, and protects it from harsh elements in the environment. We also have something similar to the pod in our lives to help protect our seed from harm and support it during our growth process. We tend to look at the seed and pod in much like our true and false selves. The true or real self, like the seed, is the life-giving core of our being. The real self holds all the beauty and light of whom we are—it is the soul of the individual. The true self also has our entire real feelings and thoughts, feelings, and thoughts that may not be acceptable to those around us.

This is where the pod or our false self enters the scene. Like the pod, the false self protects and hides the real self from harsh elements of the environment. The false self responds to the demands, beliefs and possible abuse from our parents or caretakers, family, siblings, peers and other places and people that impact us as we grow. The false self takes on the mistaken beliefs, misguided directions, and sometimes harsh treatment we experience as we are growing up so our true self is never touched. The false self or pod becomes our mask, our facade to the outside world, to conceal and defend our true self, our little seed.

The Pod within Us

The pod, as we become older, begins to be written on by all the things we are told: all our experiences—bad and good—and all the wounds we gather throughout our life. Our pod may have written on it that we are worthless or bad or stupid. We may believe that we are good at certain things, but bad at other things like math or communication. We may think we should not show anger, fear, or pain to others. We may believe that people are not to be trusted or that confrontation is bad. There are many beliefs and ideas that our pod or false self takes in and learns from others. Some might not like the false self, because they think it keeps them from their seed. Actually, though, the pod has kept our seed safe until the time is right for the growth process. Once again, the seed’s growth process can help us to understand our own growth process, our discovery of ourselves.

Preparing for Growth

The seed will only grow and break through the pod when the environmental conditions are right, when there is just the right amount of warmth and moisture present around the seed. If the environment is too dry or has unfavorable temperatures, then the seed will not come out of its pod. This allows the plant to survive during periods when plant growth is not possible. It’s the same for us! Our seed, our real self, is wise and does not allow itself to be in an environment that cannot support it or care for it. So, the seed waits until the time is right—until we are ready and able to have the support, internally and externally, for our seed to grow. This preparation time is very important so we can begin to let go of our pod with all inscribed beliefs and thoughts that do not belong to us and never did.

Some might say they have always been ready to let go of their pod. Yet, it takes honesty and courage to face what is in our pod and to see it is not who we truly are. This means we have to see that those who gave us these beliefs or hurt us were wrong. That is not to say these people were bad, for they learned these misguided ideas from their experiences, too, and they just didn’t know any better. That’s not always easy to accept about our parents, family, or loved ones. This growth process is not easy either. It takes much work, dedication, and willingness to look at some difficult issues.

A Story of Wheat and Weeds

Now, the seed can’t just come out of its pod all at once, but it happens slowly at a gradual pace so that the growth is strong and sure. That means it’s okay to allow elements of wheat2the pod to remain around the seed until you are ready to let go of those parts.

This process is like the story of a man who planted some wheat in his field. Then during the night, the man’s enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. When the wheat began to come up through the soil so did the weeds and the man’s servants asked him if they should gather up the weeds. The man replied, “No, because while you are gathering up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Rather, let both grow together. Then at harvest time, we will gather the weeds first, bind them together and burn them. Then we will gather the wheat into my barn.”

In the meantime, if you have an issue written on your pod, like a hot temper or fear of confrontation, you can develop healthy and healing ways to deal with the issue. Then as one grows and discovers more about their seed, the elements in the pod will naturally fade.


In the plant’s growth process, first a root comes out of the pod to test the environment and the seed begins to build its root system to support the plant. Then the seed forms its leaves and stem to come up through the soil to the sunlight. That’s what our seed does, too. First, our seed will build a foundation of who we truly are—our values, our ideas, our beliefs—to support our being and growth process. Then when the foundation is laid and our roots are firmly in the ground, we begin to break through the surface and our being self magnifybegins to shine to the world. We discover who we truly are in just the right time and just the right way.

A good exercise to begin or further your awakening process or your team’s is to write down on a piece of paper a list of all that is within your seed and what is written on your pod. You might want to draw and write about these qualities in depth. Look at where the elements of your pod came from, where you learned them, and what triggers these in you. You could also make a collage about your seed and pod using pictures, words, and sentences from magazines and newspapers to get a full picture of your growth process.

Everyone Is Unique

It’s important to recognize and appreciate our unique qualities. It takes effort and persistence to travel through this process, but remember your seed and pod have all they need to do the work. All that is required is already within you, and that’s pretty amazing—just like the plant’s little seed.

Appreciating Personality Diversity

Now that you understand your own personality better, take a look at those who work for you. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who worked for us had the exact same personalities that we do? No, it would not.

The most effective managers appreciate the diversity of their subordinates’ personalities. That’s the view of Management Professor Scott Williams, a business school faculty member at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

“Personality diversity can make communication and coordination of activities more difficult at times, but diversity has its advantages,” says Dr. Williams. “Diverse groups that give the extra effort to understand and accept each other’s personalities tend to produce higher quality decisions than groups that are either (a) homogeneous or (b) don’t manage their diversity well.”

According to Dr. Williams, appreciating the diverse personalities of the people we interact with helps us to understand why they act the way they do and how to get the most out of them. Appreciating personality diversity means respecting the strengths and limitations of each individual, and knowing how to capitalize on each individual’s strengths.

In his online newsletter LeaderLetter, Dr. Williams states that appreciating personality diversity is the opposite of dogmatically expecting everyone to view situations the way you do—no matter how successful you have been using your approach. We don’t all think alike, but that’s often a good thing.

“People with different personalities have different inherent strengths and weaknesses,” adds Dr. Williams. “For this reason, the best groups are made up of members with diverse personalities who learn to appreciate and put to use each other’s strengths. Managers should promote an appreciation for personality diversity. Discussions of personality inventories, especially when facilitated by an expert, can be an effective way to foster such appreciation.”

Before you use in-depth work style assessments for self evaluation or to manage others, you need to select the right instrument. The profile needs to include areas that explore problem solving and stress patterns, leadership and organization style, things to guard against and probing questions to assist with the self evaluation process.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.