TLDR; Jump to our workshop presentation here on LinkedIn SlideShare
If you’re a self-awareness junkie, then you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’ve gotten hooked on the meaning behind your astrological sign, Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, Myers-Briggs, or 16Personalities, navigating life with a slight bias (or new-found perspective) based on the insights gained from these famed personality tests.
Let me test you on this one: have you discovered your Dosha? Doshas go back, way back, like 3,000 years back, to the birth of ancient Hindu Ayurvedic science (also referenced to as holistic health). Your Dosha serves as yet another personality test, but in this case, one that is much more comprehensive, covering your mind, body, behavior and physical health.
Discovering your Dosha can make for a fun culture and team-building exercise, helping you to identify and understand your core behavior traits so you know how best to interact and collaborate with your fellow coworkers. We’re sharing below the short culture workshop our team at Blueboard just completed. It’s fun, informative, and pairs well with a Friday afternoon beer or glass of wine.
Before the workshop, ask your team take a short online quiz to discover their Dosha. The idea behind Dosha profiles is that your one dominant Dosha (named Vata, Kapha, or Pitta) will rule your personal constitution, followed by a secondary and sometimes tertiary Dosha. You’re never just one Dosha, and depending on your stressors, external influences, eating habits, and more, you might find that characteristics from the others (especially your secondary Dosha) ebb and flow throughout your daily life.
Gather your group for the workshop. At this point, everyone has taken the online quiz and has their primary and secondary Doshas identified. Please ask that they’re kept private until later revealed in the workshop (trust me, it’s more fun this way). Project or print out the presentation we’ve created on LinkedIn SlideShare and get started!
In the first part of the workshop you’ll explain the characteristics of each of the three Doshas to give the team a solid baseline. While most Ayurvedic doctors focus on the mental and physical characteristics associated with your Dosha to guide your daily holistic health, for this exercise we’ll simply focus on their associated attitudes, feelings and behaviors.
For each Dosha profile slide, you’ll see a list of characteristics that are In Balance, and Out of Balance. Equate these to having a good day (In Balance), or those off days that you just wish you could start over (Out of Balance). When you’re In Balance, you’re taking care of yourself, getting exercise, eating well, and feeling like a million bucks. As a result, the best qualities of your Dosha really shine. But the opposite, feeling Out of Balance —whenyou’re short on sleep, rushed and missed breakfast, and butting heads with a coworker —can bring you to your worst.
Lead the exercise by reading off the qualities of each Dosha profile, each time asking for those who scored with that Dosha as their primary to raise their hands, identifying it to their coworkers.
Here’s a quick summary of each of the three Dosha profiles. They’re based on the five elements (air, earth, water, fire and ether/void), which helps us to more easily connect and remember the personality traits that each embody.
Like the air, a happy, healthy Vata is fluid, moving, and super adaptable. They’re smart and quick, total multi-tasking experts, and can pick something up and run with it with very little direction (a hands-off manager’s dream). They’re incredibly social, enjoy navigating through crowds at a party and connecting people together (often serving as their friends’ personal recruiter, Tender matcher, or Zagat foodie guide). Lastly, Vata is inspired – a big idea person, and can easily rally excitement from others behind their grand schemes.
Out of Balance
When Vata is having a bad day, too much air can become scattered and chaotic. They have a hard time completing things once they start them (often from getting distracted by the next shiny thing), or might feel challenged when having to make decisions (white or wheat, PPT or PDF, red call-to-action button or green, aye-aye-aye!), or when prioritizing their work tasks. An overly stimulated Vata can also crash; too much conversation, rushing around, or taking on projects can make them retreat and enter zombie-mode.
Pitta is often likened to a tiger – stealthy, fast and cunning, ready to pounce at any moment. Linked to the fire element, a happy and healthy Pitta is passionate, loving, and a true leader, directing their team against a clear mission and purpose. Pitta is hyper-organized, and incredibly discerning, enjoying the discovery and planning stages of large projects. Pitta is often a life-long learner, seeking out new challenges and ways to improve themselves.
Out of Balance
When a tiger is angry or frustrated, you all better watch out. Like a true fire element, Pittas on a bad day can become easily irritable, stubborn, or bossy. They become impatient with missed deadlines or a climate of chaos, where they feel like they lack control. Similar to Vata, Pitta’s fire can often burn out when feeling defeated (they’re also very competitive), or when they lose their sense of ownership, often retreating back or becoming distant and unavailable to others.
Kapha is made of earth and water, so at their best they’re incredibly grounded, supportive, stable, and loyal. Kapha is the coworker you drag into the conference room to borrow advice from or vent to (“How should I ask for this raise?” or “Why did they make Sara the lead on that project, and not me?”). They’re trusting and observing, and very thoughtful in their communication with others. Taking a steady approach to their work efforts, Kaphas are great in taking direction and following through methodically, with every small detail accounted for.
Out of Balance
While slow and steady often wins the race, sometimes their innate steadiness can lead to risk-aversion, fear or reluctance to try new things, or worse complacency, not pushing themselves or their work product to be better (“If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”). An out of balance Kapha can also feel quiet and detached, with coworkers feeling like they’re less collaborative or not pulling their full weight for a team project.
At this point you’ve created a knowledge baseline for each Dosha profile, and had your coworkers confess their primary match. The next few slides will describe the benefits and watch-outs when Dosha personalities pair up and collaborate in the workplace. You’ll be able to identify Doshas on the slides by their associated five elements: air = Vata, fire = Pitta, and earth = Kapha.
Read through the benefits and warnings for each pairing, customizing with any personalized takeaways or situations based on how your own company workplace typically collaborates on shared projects. If you’re an advertising agency, maybe you have a Pitta Account Lead and a Kapha Art Director; how would they collaborate when tackling their upcoming client pitch? Maybe you’re at a healthcare technology startup, and you have a Vata Product Manager and a Kapha Front-end Engineer; how can the PM communicate effectively without overwhelming our sweet Kapha?
Leave time for teammates to comment on their own employee experiences, and to share how they feel their Dosha match represents their sense of self. Are they aligned with their primary Dosha per the quiz, or do they feel more connected with their secondary result?
If the team is energized by having a dash of Dosha in their workplace, consider posting some of the knowledge from these slides around the office and bringing Dosha-centric triggers and language into your everyday conversations and new employee onboarding practices. Encourage coworkers to let each other know when they’re feeling out of balance, so that their teammates know how to support them and how to work together more effectively within the situation. In short, encourage more vulnerability and communication between coworkers when they’re not feeling up to their best, before the other feels disappointed or discouraged.
Dosha profiles can also play an interesting role in how you vet candidates during the recruiting process. Certain roles will require certain abilities (to lead, to collaborate, to make decisions, to be creative, to empathize with your customers), and may require interplay with a dominant group of personalities. If you have a lot of Vatas running around in need of wrangling (consider a situation of overly-ambitious sales reps), their manager might be best as a Pitta. If you need someone to be a great coach, mentor, or sounding board, you might hire a Kapha. And if you need someone to create vision and boost morale, find a seasoned Vata.
So, did you take the quiz? How did you stack up? Myself, I’m Vata/Pitta (Vata primary, Pitta secondary), so the fact that I was able to finish this blog post deserves quite the celebration ☺. Enjoy, have fun, and please share feedback in the comments below if you bring this workshop to your company or team.