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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

True Colors

When we worked for the union, Ex and I were swept away for 2 weeks each year to headquarters for some intensive training on varying topics. In election years, it was about political action, without question - we represented public employees whose income came from tax money. When important laws came down, we could expect deep immersion into the newest protected class under the Civil Rights Act or the finer points of objecting to random drug testing of school bus drivers in California (state law vs. federal law). As collective bargaining laws changed, we were the first to learn about the impacts on our members.

Annual training was always fun until we had a baby - then was a bit tougher. But the dynamics of 250 labor union business agents in a hotel ballroom for days on end was a beautiful thing. The egos are uncontainable. The passion is unequalled, because one can't do this work if one doesn't have the fire in the belly. If one isn't questioning, curious, rebellious, creative and gutsy, one is not respected by peers or the employer. If one cannot emote at a hearing like Clarence Darrow in the courtroom or write the post-hearing brief like a Supreme Court Justice, one should look for other work. The annual gathering gave us a chance to brag for and learn from our peers who covered every inch of California.

There came a year that we were losing disciplinary hearings at an alarming rate. Careful review showed strong evidence that in most of these losses, the rep had carefully prepared a case built on the accused member's version of events . . . and been derailed in the hearing because the member's version matched no one else's. Brainstorming sessions of battered representatives suggested that if only we could really understand what makes people tick, we could succeed for our members despite themselves. Now, where to locate that manual on human behavior?

Enter True Colors® ( http://www.true-colors.com/ ). We all got teasers preceding the training event: "Here's your manual on human beings!" True Colors® is a simple model of personality identification for people of all ages that improves communication through recognition of a person’s true character. Utilizing the colors of orange, green, blue and gold to differentiate four basic personality types, True Colors® is easily learned and is the real deal - recognized and used by mental health professionals around the globe. True Colors® training is always entertaining - participants absorb and use the information as they see fit. Some are briefly charmed to learn their dog Frisky is a green, while their third son is a glowing orange. Others become so connected to this method of understanding people, they become rabid. I would be one of those. I am a certified True Colors® facilitator and trainer.

At breaks, the reps milled around laughing, chatting, "accusing" one another of being "orange" or being "blue". Whether they would ever use this stuff again, they clearly understood the rudiments of it immediately. Soon we all looked beyond our best friend and toward, perhaps, our supervisor, spouse or the nemesis who sat across the table during contract negotiations. "Oh! I get it that when I say "X", he hears "Y". For his personality, I need to express it in these terms." By the end of the session, we all understood that every person is a rainbow, possessing each color to some degree. The point is that we all tend to lead with our strongest color most of the time and that is what defines us. After two weeks, we warbled Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" and went our separate ways.

Some reps never used it again, preferring to use facts and logic to win cases rather than messing around figuring out human beings. Those people are green. Some used it forever after, seeking peace and harmony. Those people are blue. I cannot say what an impact True Colors® had on me. You see, I'd never understood other people at all. Now I had a roadmap! I've used it for 25 years now - it is part of me. I apply it to bosses, people I supervise, potential partners, girlfriends and store clerks. I knew Amber's rainbow was identical to my own by the time she was 2. It helped me to understand what she needed and how it needed to be presented to her. I have trained thousands of people in True Colors® and it is some of the most fun I've ever had.

True deal: True Colors® is so ingrained in me that one can take me to a cocktail party and have a bit of fun. Send me through a group of people I do not know and give me 5 minutes with each. I can go off to a private room and list these folks' rainbows, in order, with a little explanation beside each color. When I present these rainbows and ask if I'm correct, most people are pretty startled. I'm no Criss Angel, but I can work a little magic!
This won't surprise the reader - I use True Colors® daily. It's what makes me strong at booking jobs, at calming the angry customer, at helping a struggling home dude, at encouraging someone who is down, at getting my own needs met . . . I understand - at least at the surface, which is where we always start - what people need from me in terms of communication. That makes me feel powerful, because I can give whatever information I need to present in a way the listener will understand and value.

Should LimesNow sound just a little too full of herself to the reader, please consider this: I didn't make this stuff up. I don't own it. I'm not that good. It's just a tool that worked and works for me as I sit rambling on the bus trying to connect with others.

For a little fun, go take a free True Colors® test and learn something about yourself. I took one this morning and nearly fainted. I know myself well in True Colors® terms. Imagine my shock this morning to learn that I'm not what I once was - and I am what I thought I couldn't be. My faintest color for decades is right up there now. I think that attests to things I've achieved and a new mindset. An old dog can learn new tricks!

In my ears right now: What else? "I see your true colors shining through, I see your true colors and that's why I love you . . . "

Something that charmed me: Finding myself Green/ Blue/ Orange/Gold! I worked for years to stifle my gold a little and punch up my green. Or maybe it's just appropriate that Limes is green.


  1. I'd love to go through a whole training again. Some of us who were starting a freshmen/upper classmen support system had a modified training (due to time constraints) and we do a mini refresher each year. Gold has always been my dominant color, with blue being 2nd. But this spring orange jumped ahead. Now THAT was a surprise. I'm going to follow the link to take the online test to see what I am at this moment in time.

  2. Doozyanner, I've worked for years to punch up something other than gold/blue, so my new spectrum made me grin from ear-to-ear! And you are right ~ take the test any time. You might be something you never were before. Do you know the "murky brown" reference, the fifth color?

  3. Well. Darn. I'm back to being Mother Superior (as my dad used to call me) but with almost equal amounts of blue to soften it. My rainbow was gold 16, blue 15, orange 11, green 8. Maybe when I took the test this spring I was feeling extra sassy since school was almost out. No, I haven't heard about the 5th color. My daughter was one of the creators of the support system so also took the training. When we figured our results we made eye contact across the room and grinned at each other. She was full-on orange and I was even more gold than I am now. No WONDER we had issues! It was a good experience that I'm glad to have shared with her.

  4. My jaw just dropped. In the first blog draft I wrote about Ex and I sitting in a room making eye contact about 50 feet apart when we each realized our rainbows ran totally opposite. It was so excruciating, we each dashed toward an exit to go to the mens or ladies room for awhile. You and your daughter grinned, Ex and I ran for cover, but however we behave it is clear to me that when the lights come on, it's a revelation.

    My own progress, across years, has been to let go of the gold that was strangling me, punch up my green that runs deep but I didn't call on it enough, and to embrace and encourage my pale orange. For me, blue is just blue. I'm a harmonizer. Yes, my heart IS always on my sleeve.

    At most seminars, someone will have slightly missed the fine points and will ask why her son - whatever - likes to set fires. A topic or question better addressed by something other than personality typing. We just say, "Well, he's murky brown, not actually any of the True Colors." and then we move the seminar on.

  5. Badge, IMAGINE me getting my green way up there and suppressing that stinkin' gold! I grinned from ear to ear. "I see my true colors shinin' . . . "