Have you ever heard of the personality test that determines what type of bird you most resemble? You could be an eagle (authoritative and powerful), a peacock (confident and friendly), a dove (peace-loving and kind), or an owl (logical and intelligent). The first time I took this test was during a staff retreat. The results pigeon-holed us into our bird personas, and we learned how to work with the other bird types without shitting on them.
Back then, I was one hundred percent a dove—a people-pleasing specimen that avoided confrontation at all costs and just wanted people to get along. I prioritized being liked over everything else and often gave in to other people’s wishes to keep the peace. Sometimes I did this to a fault and definitely to my detriment.
Many years ago, I worked with a volunteer who was chairing a major fundraising event. As the staff person in charge, I did most of the work. She never seemed to have the time to do the tasks she promised to do, so I did them along with my other responsibilities without complaint. I worked long hours, and at one point, my frustration became so apparent she insisted on knowing why I was upset. When I took the brave step to lay out the instances where she didn’t follow through on her work, she burst into tears in my office and then left abruptly. I felt terrible, but we both knew I was right. By being professional and honest with her, I had hoped she would understand where I was coming from and take a more active role. Instead, she told my boss and didn’t stop telling people until it reached the highest levels of the organization. After this experience, I stayed firmly in my dove-like existence for many more years to come.
I was a dove in my personal life too. When the people closest to me didn’t get along, I saw it as my job to mediate our differences. If I disagreed with my husband, parents, or in-laws, I held my ground for a short time, but ultimately, ended up apologizing because I couldn’t stand us all being mad at each other. This cycle of fighting and reconciling was my M.O. I was always the dove surrounded by the many eagles that soared above me.
Suffice it to say; I have spent years in therapy learning to be less dove-like. After so many confrontations at work and home, I was an emotional mess. I feared confrontation instead of addressing it and lived and breathed on outside approval. I was depressed and unhappy. I was trapped in a cage papered with missed opportunities to live authentically.
And as they say, I’ve come a long way, baby. On a whim (and a Google search for something to write about today 😉 ), I took the bird test again and discovered I am no longer all dove. I’m much more of a proud peacock.
Peacocks and doves have similarities. We are social birds who are loyal and kind and have a lot of empathy toward others. And we both dislike conflict. But while the dove does whatever it takes to avoid it, the peacock reframes conflict as a challenge and has the confidence to talk it out and come up with solutions. This rings so true in my career because I’ve felt the most successful when I tackle problems head-on instead of shying away from them. I’ve learned to speak up in difficult situations, listen to both sides and arrive at a good place. Sometimes I get my way, and often I don’t, but I no longer live or die by those outcomes anymore. Life is too short.
Peacocks are also enthusiastic and curious about the world. We can quickly adapt to change and adjust to a new normal. And while change is never easy, we are open-minded creatures. Other birds may see us as loud or showy, but it’s more likely that we are creative and passionate instead. As a new empty-nester (no pun intended), I think being more peacock and less dove-like suits me well. I welcome this new stage of my life and constantly search for new ways to express my authentic self. I respect and remain loyal to the eagles and try not to annoy the owls too much.
And I am constantly hugging my inner dove and telling her not to worry so much. The sky is big enough for all of us.
Have you ever taken the bird test (also known as the D.O.P.E test)? Take it and see what bird it says you are. Do you agree with the results? Do tell me in the comments!