I just recently finished Dr. Little’s Me, Myself and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-being which describes his work in personal project analysis. I find Dr. Little’s theory that personality is shaped by the personal projects we pursue. Personal projects can be anything from “lose 20 pounds” to “providing for my parents in their final years of life.” It is a more dynamic view of personality where people take an active part in developing personality traits. This is in contrast to being locked into personality traits such as their Myers-Briggs Type.
As Dr. Little found in his research, people are chiefly motivated by their personal projects. Personal projects are not just limited to a person’s home life but influence all aspects of his or her life. It would seem that the more a person’s work is aligned with a person’s personal project, the more engaged a person would be in their work.
When I was a Presidential Management Fellow, I went through a Myers-Briggs analysis and was categorized as an ENTJ. Recently, I went through another Myers-Briggs and found that I was now an INTJ. Apparently, I seem to switch between being introverted and extroverted. Personally, I never consider being introverted or extroverted to be a fixed trait; I was whatever I thought would help in achieving a goal.
This is why I am currently studying how to apply Personal Project Analysis in determining what engages workers and how to align their work with personal projects. I am also interested in how to combine Personal Project Analysis with the Coordinated Management of Meaning communication theory. It is true that employee engagement rests with the employee, but government managers can use the tools of Personal Project Analysis and the Coordinated Management of Meaning to understand the motivations of government employees better.