Ep 69 – What’s Your ESIAC Personality Style During Transitions?

Some people love change, some people hate it, others adapt easily no matter what’s going on. If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can better navigate unexpected or unwanted change in a more constructive way.  

Topics Covered:  

2:32     –  The Kind of People Who Rank Highly for Resilience and Innovation 

5:53  –    ESIAC vs the Diffusion of Innovations model 

12:30  –    How to Activate the Different Styles Depending on your Situation 

15:12  –    The Seasonal Model of Change and How it  Relates to the ESIAC Styles    




ESIAC Transitions Personality Style Quiz: 


Other free tools: 



Connect with Carla Rieger:

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/carlarieger

Twitter – https://twitter.com/carlarieger

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlarieger/



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Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.


This is EP 69 – What’s Your ESIAC Personality Style During Transitions? Some people love change, some people hate it, others adapt easily no matter what’s going on. If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can better navigate unexpected or unwanted change in a more constructive way. Hi, I’m Carla Rieger, and this is the MindStory Speaker Podcast.

I have been an expert on resilience and change leadership for over 20 years, speaking and training all over the world on this topic. I’ve studied it both academically and anecdotally in organizations, having done thousands of surveys and interviews over the last two decades. My research shows that people tend to have a default style when faced with unexpected change. One person can react entirely differently to the same external change. I’m sure you’ve noticed this amongst your friends and colleagues. Whether it’s a world change like a pandemic, a personal life change like getting married, having  baby, getting a huge amount of income, losing a job. Then there are slow changes over time like aging.

While most people have an initial negative reaction to unexpected and unwanted change… What happens next is often indicative of a person’s orientation to life. In this episode I want to talk about how to master four main styles of negotiating through transitions, to increase your resilience. The problem is people tend to get comfortable in one style, and use it even when the situation doesn’t warrant it.

If you look back on your life to date, it’s a roller coaster change, right. External changes come at us all the time, whether we like them or not. So that will continue to happen in big and small ways for the rest of your life. Because of that, it serves to master change, if you want to not only survive but thrive. People who can’t master it, tend to suffer.

So, your transitions personality style is how you internally handle external changes. People who’ve had lots of intense change in their lives, and made it through to the other side successfully, tend to rank highly in my research for resilience and innovation. So that’s a good way to reframe all the tough things you’ve faced in your life. Because without them you wouldn’t be as resilient, wise, strong or compassionate towards others dealing with the same thing.

There was a recent New York Times article that said a person’s resilience is dictated by a combination of genetics, personal history, environment and situational context. They don’t mention mindset at all. It’s all external elements. And I disagree with that. It’s 95% based how we choose to interpret those external circumstances. For example, my mother was a social worker for children and teens for over 30 years. She was constantly mystified about how two children could come from the same troubled home and one would grow up to be a criminal, and the other one would completely use that experience to compassionately help others lead a productive life. She came to believe it was, in many cases, how the person as a child chose to interpret their experience.

We all have the choice with every challenging experience we face, to feel like a victim to it, and just keep attracting more of the same, to become the perpetrator of what happened to you, or to learn from it and help others do the same. Or, hundreds of other choices. Your past doesn’t dictate your future at all. The most resilient people I studied, had a habit of learning and growing from tough situations. So their resilience had not nearly as much to do with genetics, personal history, environment or situational context, than it was the personal perspective they chose to take.

So, let’s explore the ESIAC Transitions Personality Styles and see if you can identify which one is your default.  ESIAC stands the 5 types which are Explorer, Stabilizer, Initiator, Adapter and Creator. In the shownotes you’ll see a link to get a copy of the quiz, and you can try for yourself or use it with your team. You can also just go to MindStoryAcademy.com/free, and you’ll see it there.

So the first one is Explorer. They tend to like change, they seek variety, when change happens even if it’s unexpected or unwanted there’s a part of them the gets a bit excited, because it’s different. They like to challenge themselves to see how to innovatively handle it. Often you see these people in creative roles, sales, consulting, etc. The downside if not balanced by the other styles is, they tend to be a person who changes too much, they may be unstable. They wander from one thing to another, always exploring the next new shiny object. They don’t tend to have sticking power.

If you are familiar with the “Diffusion of Innovations” system created by Everett Rogers, for studying how people adapt to changes. In particular it’s often talked about in marketing strategy, as in how consumers adapt to new technology. The typical graphic is a bell curve, where the first 2.5% are called Innovators, the second wave is approximately %13.5 of a market is called an Early Adopter, the third is getting up to the top of the bell curve and is 34% of the market and is called Early Majority. Then going down the bell curve is another 34% group called Late Majority. Then the last group, at the end of the bell curve is 16% are a called Laggards. You can see a similar pattern in any population when it comes to adopting a new idea, new situations, new structures in society – from the pandemic situation, to getting a smart phone, to a new fashion trend amongst a certain demographic like bell bottoms or acid washed jeans.

So, there is some crossover in that Explorers would be at the beginning of that Bell Curve, as an Innovator or Early Adopter. They’d be the first to buy a iPod, when no one else had heard of it yet. They are very open-minded to new ideas and are the first ones to adopt it and share their findings. They boldly go where no man or woman has gone before.

An opposite type to the Explorer is, the Stabilizer. They don’t like change, they don’t seek it, and when change happens even if it’s a good change, they tend to resist. If this quality is unbalanced with the other styles, they tend to be close-minded, saying no to anything new and  unfamiliar. They are the Laggards in the Bell Curve when it comes to adopting something new in life. The upside of someone like this is that they our very discerning, they do their due diligence, they are very picky about what they choose to focus on. And once a change has anchored its way into a population or a person’s life, when there is no going back, they are very good at troubleshooting, sorting out the glitches, and ensuring it stabilized. You often see these people in roles such as engineering, accounting, administration.

A third type is called the Initiator. Like an Explorer they will initiate change, but they won’t change over and over again. They pick one ‘well-thought through’ change and make sure it happens through to completion. They might be like the Early Adopter or Early Majority in the ‘Diffusion of Innovations” model. They won’t be the first out of the gate, but as soon as something looks somewhat viable, authentic and effective, they tend to lead the way. They are good at getting others to follow. Explorers don’t really care if people follow, they just want to be the solo Eagle on the horizon finding the latest thing. The Initiators, on the other hand, want to find something that works, and influence others to take that road as well. That’s why you’ll often see them in a leadership role, or as an entrepreneur. If this quality is unbalanced with the other styles, they can be pushy, trying to get others to change before they’re ready, and they can rush to a solution before it’s been properly thought through.

A fourth type is called the Adapter. They won’t initiate change, but they will go with the flow, adapt to whatever change comes their way, helping others in a compassionate way to adjust to uncomfortable changes. Often you’ll find people like this in caregiver roles, human resources, counseling, coaching, ministry, nursing. In the Diffusion of Innovations model they would be like the Early to Late Majority. They don’t change until other people have changed, but if they see lots of people going in a certain direction they’ll jump on board and support it. If this quality is unbalanced with the other styles, they can tend to be a pushover, not having good boundaries, just going with whatever life brings them, instead of choosing and focusing their energy in a certain direction that’s right for them.

The fifth style is called the Creator, and it’s actually a combination of all the styles. A Creator is one who switches styles depending on the situation. Think about it for yourself, we have all these ways of being inside us. There are times of life and situations that can bring out different ESIAC styles. This is a good thing. It’s not good to be stuck in only one style. At the MindStory Academy, we talk a lot about how the mind organizes the way you view life in story form, including characters, theme, plot, setting Etc. We take on different characters or archetypes at different times in life. For example maybe you were an Explorer in your early 20s traveling the world. Then you activated your inner Initiator, and got an education and went after a specific career. Then you got married and had kids, and needed to activate your inner Stabilizer. Then, you all of a sudden have more people in your life, people on both sides of the family to consider, and you need to be constantly activating your inner Adaptor to keep the peace and move the group along in a harmonious way. Then usually when you get older you get good at switching styles depending on what life brings you. That is a sign you have activated the Creator style.

If default to one particular style in all situations – it’s not wise. I’m sure you’ve met people like that. They just keep being an Explorer all their life, they never settle down, they never get focused, they never want to adapt to other people’s needs. Similarly, you might find someone who just always need stability, and will sacrifice growth and fulfillment just to feel safe in their familiar world. Or the Initiator who spends their entire life just chasing one ambitious goal after another and sacrificing other aspects of life to do so, or the Adapter who just does what everybody else wants them to do.

These are four states of being you may notice are similar to other personality style inventories. There are something like 167 four-style personality systems out there like Disc, or the one with the colors, and most of them are quite similar. ESIAC applies the four basic personality styles of the human condition to transitions in life. So, as I said, the best way is to switch styles depending on the situation.

For example activate your inner Initiator if it’s time to make an important change in your life, activate the inner Adapter when you’re in the chaos phase of change and you just need to go with what works for others or the situation, even if it’s not your first choice. Maybe you activate the inner Explorer when everything you’ve tried to make things work fails, and you need to think outside the box. Activate your inner Stabilizer when need to stop changing for a while and just stabilize your life.

So if you do the quiz, and you are even on  all 4 styles, you tend to be what’s called a Creator, which, as I said, is a sign of truly being resilient and innovative. It useful to not only try the inventory for yourself, but also to share with your team, with colleagues, with your family, or any group you’re part of. Because, of course, opposite types can tend to chafe against each other. In fact often when I interview people, or when I used to do couples mediation, I often noticed people married the opposite type. They got into business with an opposite type. Or the four main leaders in a company represent the four different styles. This is actually a good thing. If you had a company where everybody was an Explorer, what would happen? You’d probably just keep jumping from one idea to another. If everyone was a Stabilizer, nothing new would ever happened. The problem is that Explorers and Stabilizers can have trouble understanding each other. Initiators and Adapters can also have trouble with each other. But when you understand other people’s worldview, and how sometimes that’s a very helpful way to be, especially in certain circumstances, it can lead to more collaborative and empathic conversations, which usually lead to better solutions on a team.

In the quiz or inventory that you download, you’ll find useful questions to trigger deeper conversations about differences. You’ll also see a graphic of the seasonal change model that I’ve talked about in other episodes. To better navigate change it helps to understand that all changes have a certain structure to them, whether you upgrade your software, move house, or go through a huge political change in your country. If you look at the graph, the vertical side is level of performance, and the horizontal side is time. So when a change happens performance tends to drop, productivity goes down, because change tends to mean people have to go back into beginner’s mind. They have to learn a new way of being. Then you enter into a kind of roller coaster downward drop in productivity and chaos. I call this stage the winter of change. It’s dark, cold, barren, nothing much looks like it’s happening. But if you can get to a transforming idea, it tends to pull productivity backup and then you get into the Spring season of change, where new life starts to sprout, the flowers come out, the leaves turn green again. Then, once you get into the summer season of change, you are really starting to stabilize and getting more comfortable with the new structure. And finally the autumn season of change is where you get the harvest of having gone through that growth cycle.

So you’ll see on the graph that different personality styles are better at different stages of the change process. Initiators are good at initiating change or taking bold action when change hits, getting people quickly toward the ultimate vision, the harvest or Autumn stage of Change. But they don’t like the lower productivity that tends to happen right after a change hits, and can get impatient with others. Adapters on the other hand are very good at helping people through the loss and disorientation phase of the Winter of change, as it’s normal for people to go through stages of grief when change happens, even if it’s a change they want. Explorers are very good at finding the transformational idea that will help everybody get back in high performance mode or helping move people into the Spring of Change, because they are the ideation people. And Stabilizers are then good at stabilizing a change so that whole organization starts to work better in the Summer phase of change. They will problem solve until the glitches are sorted out.

What you don’t want to do is expect a stabilizer to initiate change, as they dislike it. And you don’t want to ask an initator to help people through the loss and disorientation, because they tend to not have the patience or compassion for that. And you don’t want to expect an Explorer to stabilize a change, because as soon as one change happens, they’re excited to get onto the next one. And you don’t want to ask an adapter to propose a transformational idea, because they tend to not like the typical confrontation and pushback you get from others when proposing innovative ideas. But if everyone on the team understands people’s strengths and focuses them there, then you tend to have a better, more well-oiled machine for whatever change and challenge your group faces.

So an example of how this worked in my company was that I was good with Adapting and Exploring, but needed to bring on people who were good at Initiating and Stabilizing. And although the people in my company who do those things, I often chafe against them, because I don’t initially see the world the way they do. But in retrospect I always look back and appreciate that they had a say in how things go in my company, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to grow in a focused and stabilized way. And because of them, I’ve developed those qualities in myself. Before I brought them on, we were meandering all over the place, had shiny object syndrome jumping from one thing to another, or just going with what life brought us, instead of getting proactive. So think about that in any group that you are part of. Are you balanced, are you lopsided? Which qualities do you need to develop in yourself or on the team to have more skills and resources to handle intense change we seem to be going through both personally and in the world right now.

So, as I said you’ll see in the show notes a link for The ESIAC Transitions Personality Style Quiz. Or, just go to MindStoryAcademy.com/free.

That’s it for today, I hope it was useful. Do hit subscribe if you want to hear about other episodes coming up, which you can do on our website MindStoryAcademy.com\podcast. and you’ll see all the ways to subscribe or, if you’re listening on YouTube, just subscribe to our channel. Until next time, I’m Carla Rieger. Thank you for listening.

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