10. Engineer (From The Structure Family)

10. Engineer (From The Structure Family)

Our civilization is built on layers of structure, operating procedures and quality control. Would you be comfortable driving across a bridge built without plans? Do you know someone who loves to organize an office, garage or kitchen, helping to create a sense of order? How many movers and shakers would be dynamically effective without the people who hold it all together behind the scenes? Engineers are as invaluable to society as they are invisible.

People with Structure family attributes think in terms of structure: charts, pictures, graphs, compartments. They are focused on how to…with pragmatism and a processing bent. They say things like, “Just tell me how!” and “Don’t motivate me or BS me. Tell me how to do it.”

Those with a low tolerance for handling logistics and structure would be jello without the mold if they couldn’t rely on Structure people for order. Engineers don’t toot their own horns, and they work mostly behind the scenes. That is where they quietly find their significance, as foundational influences in society.

I’m like the nutty professor, bouncing around from thought to action to thought. I’m told that talking to me is like sipping water from a fire hydrant. Imagine my difficulty in writing a linear, logical book in orderly, sequential chapters. One of my editors has the Engineer ability. He makes order out of chaos, and I follow his direction. 

I know an attorney who was an only child with minimal parental involvement in his childhood. He lived most of his adult life alone and married late in life. He and his wife adopted a two-month-old boy from an Eastern-bloc country. This attorney had a fiery temper and virtually no experience at nurturing relationships. Initially, I was nervous about him being thrown into instant parenthood. Later, I was gladdened by his startling transformation into fatherhood. He used his Structural ability to clarify what the role of father required of him. He concentrated on the process needed to make him supportive, nurturing, gentle and patient. With a serious focus, he implemented the required steps. Now it’s second nature to him. He experiences the joys of successful parenting and continues to amaze me.

Engineers have tremendous assurance. They can build the Golden Gate Bridge; no problem. They’re forceful and implement doggedly.  However, they won’t move forward without a blueprint. They need structure before execution. Goals, aspirations and expectations must be specific. Structure is how they process and progress. You can be sure that they will build the plans according to the specifications. Structure is an essential component for their greenhouse to grow their competence and confidence. Their instructions must be linear and logical with step-by-step details. This ability becomes passive without a blueprint. Too abstract or conceptual, and they’re lost. You can’t tell Engineers to just bake a cake; you  have to give them the recipe.  (The book Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson is excellent for those with Structure abilities.)

Engineers act mainly on what they process.  They can be resistant to change, analytical, stoic, and critical of themselves. Instead, they ought to celebrate being analytical. That’s how they function!  

An advantage of this ability is that they hold things together. They maintain things.  They can achieve the needed results, but also can conflict with entrepreneurial abilities. Those who have this attribute can be bureaucratic when it comes to painting outside the lines.  The Structure ability can be prized in some environments and dismissed, resented or opposed in others. Engineers can frustrate colleagues with their strong adherence to the way things have always been. Engineers must remember that saying NO to change cuts them off from creativity and growth.  They can be so structured that it inhibits growth or change.  They can cast themselves so strongly in a specific mold that they have to be jackhammered out of it.  Transition is a roller coaster ride for Engineers. By being specific and literal and giving them progressive steps to follow, those who work with Engineers can make any anticipated transitions easier for them.

Again, if you have this ability, don’t assume that everyone else has it.

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