Seeing yourself through others eyes and Divergent factions

DivergentCollageWe each have a perception of ourselves.

But how does our self perception compare to other people’s perceptions of us? And how might knowing others’ perceptions of us benefit (or hinder!) our life and leadership? Recently I had the opportunity to hear how others viewed me. It happened through a discussion of the book Divergent.

Divergent is a dystopian story is set in futuristic Chicago.

Society has been segmented into 5 factions: Abnegation, meant to uphold selflessness; Amity, meant for the peaceful; Candor, meant for the honest; Dauntless, meant for the brave; and Erudite, intended for the knowledgeable (wikipedia). Each 16-year-old is given an aptitude test revealing which faction they are best suited for. After receiving these results, they decide whether to remain in the faction they grew up in or choose another. Those who show high aptitude for more than one faction are labeled “Divergent.”

Over a recent dinner conversation with friends we considered which factions each of us are suited for. Some were easy. Others were a bit more difficult. I got pegged as abnegation. Afterwards I had to look it up to gauge their accuracy.

Abnegation is described as:

- Value selflessness.

- Blame selfishness for the worlds problems.

- Discourage any thing done for a persons own enjoyment.

- Believe kisses are not meant to be shared in public.

- Believe gossiping is self-indulgent.

- Guilt is used as a tool, rather than a weapon against the self. They use it to remind themselves to do better the next time.

- They are not manipulative, but they aren’t forthright, either.

- Never allowed to do ‘whatever they want.’ They must always think of other people’s needs first.

- Don’t form real friendships because it is hard to do when no one feels like they can accept help or talk about themselves.

- They are regarded as incorruptible, due to their commitment to selflessness. Their leaders (representatives) are selected by their peers for their impeccable character, moral fortitude, and leader ship skills.

- This faction includes five of the traditional “seven heavenly virtues:” chastity, temperance, charity, patience, and humility.

I can agree with some of these characteristics and disagree with others. But I did find it interesting that most of my friends (and wife!) were confident that I’d be abnegation. It got me wondering…

  • Have you ever been surprised by someone’s perception of you? If so, was it beneficial or detrimental to your life and leadership?
  • If you were to put yourself in a Divergent faction, which would you be? Would your close friends, family, or co-workers agree with you?
Posted on by Cor in LEADERSHIP

5 Responses to Seeing yourself through others eyes and Divergent factions

  1. David Pitchford

    The thing that stood out to me while reading Divergent (I got it for my sister) was the silliness of trying to divide these values from each other. The assumption that people are supposed to fit into one faction pervades the book, with “Divergents” who don’t getting persecuted. The division between Amity and Abnegation was especially hard to understand; simply discouraging all indulgence loses sight of the point of humility: to love your neighbor as yourself, and work for the flourishing of everyone instead of just yourself. It reminds me of what C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity:

    “One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons–marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema, but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.” (72)

    Or in The Screwtape Letters:

    “But there are other profitable ways of fixing [the patient’s] attention on the virtue of Humility. By this virtue, as by all the others, our Enemy wants to turn the man’s attention away from self to Him, and to the man’s neighbors. All the abjection and self-hatred are designed, in the long run, solely for this end; unless they attain this end they do us little harm; and they even do us good if they keep the man concerned with himself, and, above all, if self-contempt can be made the starting-point for contempt of other selves, and thus for gloom, cynicism, and cruelty.” (224-225)

    • Cor

      That’s a great word, David.

      We are much more 3-dimensional than this (or other personality assessments) allow for.

      Yet I believe it can be a helpful exercise in furthering your understanding of how people perceive you. Though this shouldn’t dominate how God views us, it can fill out how your influence is actually coming off, not just how you intended it to come off.

      • David Pitchford

        (More like 5+-dimensional)

        That is a good point. I would not be able to choose between Erudite and Amity, but most people would probably just see me in Erudite because that is usually how I come off.

  2. Julie

    *WARNING: Contains spoilers about the Divergent series*

    One of things I found interesting about the Divergent series is that the characters are constantly fighting the labels placed on them, whether from the factions, or later, the outside authorities (Genetically Pure vs. Genetically Damaged). Some of the characters let these labels define them, while some see no difference and believe in people’s abilities to change and make their own decisions.

    In life, I think others’ perceptions of us can be limiting if we let them be. While it’s helpful to know how others perceive us, those perceptions can easily become excuses not to change or idols that we feel the need to maintain instead of letting God work in and through us.

    • Cor

      To your last sentence, I totally agree, Julie.

      How many times has someone treated another person poorly and excused it by saying, “That’s just who I am (or my personality or how I was raised)”?

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