Memoir Contest Winner: It’s Not Easy Being Green; But I Like It by Shelley Brungardt

by Matilda Butler on July 21, 2011

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #111 – Women’s Memoirs, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Kendra and I are pleased to publish Shelley Brungardt’s story that received an honorable mention in our Women’s Memoir March Memoir Contest–Reflections on Green. Congratulations Shelley


by Shelley Brungardt

I’m Green. No, not like Kermit the Frog. And not in the environmental sense, either. But according to the Insights Discovery System, I’m Green.

Several years ago, my employer began using Insights, a system that provides learning solutions for organizations in areas such as interpersonal effectiveness, team-building and organizational development.

Everyone on our team took a personality evaluation that produced an extensive profile of each person’s individual style. These individual styles are represented by a color system, categorized into colors on the 4 Type Insights Discovery Wheel.

Simply put, the Insights Discovery Learning System identifies four color energies. And by using this process, we learned that everyone uses all of these “color energies” to varying degrees, but everyone has their own unique ordering, or preferences, that shape individual style and indicates our dominate or preferred style of thinking, working and communicating.
Essentially, everyone has a dominant energy preference that falls into one of the four colors below:

· Fiery Red – competitive, demanding, determined, strong-willed, purposeful

· Cool Blue – cautious, precise, deliberate, questioning, formal

· Earth Green – caring, encouraging, sharing, patient, relaxed

· Sunshine Yellow – social, dynamic, demonstrative, enthusiastic, persuasive
Interesting, right?
memoir, memoir writing, memoir contest, autobiography, journaling, life writing, life storyAs I read my profile for the first time, I was impressed. Actually I was pretty amazed. It was dead on. As I previously stated, my energy preference was Green, and this report described me better than I could have described myself.

Now, the purpose of all of this was to celebrate the uniqueness of the individual and help everyone on the team gain an understanding of their individual style and impact on others, with the intent of developing interpersonal skills, improving team performance, and creating a more positive and understanding work culture.

But that’s not exactly what happened.

Certainly, we all began to gain a better understanding of each individual in the room as we related the color energies to their natural traits and preferred communication styles. And as the communication styles of each color were explained in more detail, I began to understand why one “Red” on my team always seemed to talk over me; why I never felt like I was giving a certain “Blue” all of the information they wanted; and why I was always so relaxed and social with a particular “Yellow”.

Additionally, this process allowed me to identify communication barriers with others in my group, and begin to develop strategies to overcome them.

But as we went through the exercises, it became clear that lines were being drawn, and some colors were ganging up on other colors. No, seriously. I understand that statement is as ridiculous as it sounds. But that’s how it went down that day.

Many of those in the Red group took their traits such as “competitiveness”, “determined”, “strong-willed” and “purposeful”, to mean they were better and stronger players in our business.

Particularly better than the Greens.

They laughed at the natural traits of those with Green Energy. To them, traits like “caring”, “encouraging” and “empathic” equated weakness.
Let me be clear. Our company brought this development and training tool to us with the greatest intentions. And overall, I still think it was a very valuable and productive session. I was just very taken aback and baffled by the arrogance of some of the participants that day.

Particularly, the Reds.

Over the years, we have continued to embrace this program, now just known among us as “Colors”.  And over the years, it has taken me a long time to truly accept the fact that I am a Green.

Partially, I think it’s because in our company, many of our leaders are Red. And to this day, at least in my department, Green is still viewed as somewhat of a “weak” energy or temperament. So given the fact that most of the leadership is Red, and the fact that Green has been viewed as “weak” by some people in my department, I have been somewhat ashamed of being Green.

I know. It sounds like high school, right?

But it’s true. That’s how I’ve felt. Until recently, when I finally accepted that this is who I am. I’ve tried to change. I’ve tried to be more Red. But you know what? I can’t change who I am. And why would I want to? It’s taken me far too long, but I’ve finally realized that while I may not be the most outspoken, or the quickest thinker, or the most competitive person on the team, my strengths do matter. They do make a difference.

· I’m caring. So when we talk, I actually care about you. Not what you can do for me or the company; but you, as a person.

· I’m encouraging. So when you are struggling, I will lift you up. I will tell you that you can do it. Or if you have made a mistake, I will tell you that it’s okay. Because it is.

· I’m sharing. So I don’t need the spotlight. I don’t need the kudos, like many others do. I just want to do a good job and contribute to the team. If I can help you, then I have done something worthwhile.

· I’m patient. So I won’t act like you are a bother or like you are taking up my time.

· I’m relaxed. So you don’t have to feel uptight. Hey, no pressure here.
It’s taken nearly 10 years. But I’ve reached a point where not only do I accept who I am, but I embrace it.

For years, I thought being Red meant success in our company. But I’ve come to learn that’s just not true. First of all, it takes all types of personalities to make things work. Just imagine if everyone were the same. Nothing would get done. But everyone, every “color”, has strengths they can bring to the table. They just have to embrace them and use them to their advantage.

As for the superior attitude of some of those Reds….well….some of them still express it. But I’m over it. I really am. Once in awhile, one of them will say something snide about the Greens.  But now I know that’s really about them; not me. And I try to take the high road and ignore it.

After all, I’m caring, patient and empathic.

It’s not easy being Green. But I like it.



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