August 20, 2012

I Am An Otter

I have a problem with saying “no” and apparently it’s because I’m an otter.

At our MAF conference we did some team-building exercises based upon a personality survey we all took called “Leading From Your Strengths.”  According to how you answered questions, you were assigned a certain animal:  lion, golden retriever, otter, or beaver.  I thought this survey far superior to other surveys in which you’re assigned a letter, or a hard to remember acronym (as in “I am an EFTP – no wait, was it ISFJ?”).  Way more fun to be a critter than a letter.

Because I am a serious people pleaser, who likes to party (tamely, of course), overcommit and set ambitious, sometimes unrealistic goals, I get to be that animal that’s so much fun to watch at the zoo – the playful otter.

Taking personality tests always stresses me out a bit.  I want to be honest and forthright in my answers – but I also want to score well and have a "nice" personality (that must be the otter in me).  Here’s an example from this particular test:  Which characteristic describes you MOST: generous, greedy, warm, or negative?

Well, really, who’s going to be honest and say greedy rather than generous?  I was agonizing over some questions when David walked in halfway through my test, looked over my shoulder and “helped” me. 

“Oh no, you’re definitely more disorganized than organized,” he offered.  Thanks, babe.  He, by the way, is not an otter, but a golden retriever – a faithful, dependable, slobbering golden retriever.

I guess I have known deep-down that I am an otter for a long time, but being responsible for the MAF guest house here in Sentani the past few months has only reinforced it for me. 

The MAF Guest House

People email me with reservation requests and I want to accommodate everyone.  I want them to love me for giving them the bigger room, for fitting in their last-minute request.  I have to constantly remind myself that I am not running a bed and breakfast (though wouldn’t that be fun?), and that I’m not doing this job to get the guest house a Top Hotel of Papua rating, but to help out MAF’ers and others in the mission community as we are able.

I don’t want to turn people away, to disappoint them.  I want them to think well of me.  I can’t help it.  I’m an otter.  And I learned through our team-building exercise that otters could learn from the other animals how to say “no” from time to time.

So next time you’re at the zoo and you’re disappointed that the otters don’t seem to want to come out and put on a show for you, give them a break.  Sometimes an otter just needs to say “no.”


junglewife said...

Ah, you're doing a great job! But I think the "best hotel in Papua" award goes to the Rimba in Timika :-P

I must admit, I do prefer the critter to the letters, too :-) And this golden retriever also struggles with wanting to be liked and how to say "no"!

Kay @ The Church Cook said...

Ha, a fellow otter here; people pleaser to the max! Thankfully I have my best friend who reminds me to say it's OK to say no at time, no lot of times! Have a wonderful week, Natalie. :)

Mary said...

Ooohhh! Could you send me the survey? I'd love to find out what animal I am. I was once described as "effusively warm". No, really!!