The People Map

The People Map

Big Cat Rescue is often complimented as being a sanctuary where the people involved get along harmoniously.  By and large, those who are attracted to rescue work are those who care deeply about animals and will commit their entire lives to giving of themselves to make the world a little better place for the non human segment, but they often share a common belief that people are the problem.  That core belief doesn’t lend itself well to nurturing human bonds.  As a result, most animal shelters and animal protection groups are staffed by people who are dealing with the stress of life and death situations without the benefit of strong people skills.

We were no exception, but over the years have chosen as a group, to put aside our personal differences and focus on the goal:  a world where animals are treated with love and respect.  We achieved a modicum of success through a commitment to our ultimate goal.  It made sense that if we were going to demand love and respect for animals, that it should apply to all animals including our human contacts.  The result was the appearance of harmony in our organization.

We worked very hard to create a culture that was respectful of our differences and often receive gracious compliments from other animal welfare groups who proclaim that they want to “grow up to be just like Big Cat Rescue.”  That’s great feedback and has inspired us more to perfect the facade, but there was still an element of inner turmoil that we did not have the tools to overcome.  We repressed it, ignored it, tried to work around it and did so rather effectively, but still there was this underlying, nagging feeling that we just were not understanding each other.   We each chalked it up to the “other person” being defective in some way and just tried to accept “them” with all “their” faults because their desirable qualities were so beneficial to our mission.   Not a bad way to go, but certainly not the most effective, we were to learn from Dr. Mike Lillibridge.

Coleen Kremer and Beth KamhiOur Education Department leaders, Dr. Beth Kamhi and Coleen Kremer, a psychologist (pictured here) had suggested that our key staff and volunteer leaders meet with Dr. Lillibridge to learn about his People Map.  My first reaction was to think, “We don’t need that.  We do an amazing job of getting along for animal people.”  The key phrase, in that sentence was “for animal people.”  While that little phrase was nipping at me, I was readying my objection to be that it was too expensive and too hard to get our core group all in one place at one time when, obviously reading my mind, Beth countered that Dr. Lillibridge was donating his time and we could do it at one of our regularly scheduled meeting times at the sanctuary.

What did we have to lose but a few hours?

Dr. Lillibridge explained that his roots had been in problem psychology, particularly in dealing with suicidal tendencies, but that many years ago he had shifted to something he saw as much more empowering;  positive psychology.

Like a table, we all have four legs of our personality to stand on, but left to our own devices only two or three legs are naturally strong and the fourth is noticeably under developed.  If anyone in our group was apprehensive and thinking they would be analyzed and laid bare to the group, they could take relief in knowing that the purpose of this exercise was to define our three major strengths and then, in discovering our one weakness develop that Achilles’ heel into the fourth strength.  Mike, as he referred to himself, was quietly reassuring and created a sense of personal safety and acceptance that had everyone cooperating from the start.

I can’t even begin to go into the process of the People Map but it is only 7 questions long and can be completed by an eight year old with amazing accuracy.  There are four Types:  Leader, Task, People & Free Spirit, but everyone has 2 very strong types and some three.  There are no good types or bad types, no preferable types or successful types.  The purpose of us knowing our own Type and that of those around us is so that we understand each other and can communicate more effectively with each other.  The better we can deal with each other, our guests, our opponents and those in power, the better results we can expect.

At the end of four hours, it all seemed so elegantly simple that it made me wonder how it could have been such a mystery in the first place.  How could something so obvious, that you can peg a person’s strengths and weaknesses in a conversation of only a few moments, be so elusive to our conscious minds?  It’s kind of like looking at a slide under a microscope.  Anyone can see the same things wiggling about, but if you don’t know what they are and what their presence means, then just seeing them serves no purpose.  Once you know what you are seeing, and accept that it was created that way, then you can do what is necessary to utilize that information to your greatest advantage.

Perhaps even more importantly, to recognize the fact that what we may perceive as defective or lacking in others is really just a manifestation of the truth that their strongest qualities are those that we have not fully cultivated in ourselves.  We can learn from them and depend on them to bridge the gaps we haven’t fully developed on our own.

The People Map training was a lot of fun and I laughed until there were tears streaming down my face.  Dr. Lillibridge encouraged us to list all of the words and phrases that best described each of our types and then to extrapolate from that how to best meet each other’s needs.  Knowing how to get what you want is priceless.  This People Mapping course has moved us light years ahead and we would recommend Dr. Mike Lillibridge and his training methods to anyone who wants to reach their highest potential and achieve their mission in life.

Carole Baskin, Founder of Big Cat Rescue

Dr. Mike Lillibridge, PhDThe People Map System

E. Michael Lillibridge, Ph.D. President and Founder

144 Whitaker Road, Suite A Lutz, FL 33546

813.949.1125  813.949.6495  fax 813.949.4828  PeopleMap @

Attendees at their first training session were: Coleen Kremer, Dr. Beth Kamhi, Scott Lope, Jamie Veronica, Honey Wayton, Tiffany Deavor, Jen Ruszczyk, Jessica Allen, Barbara Frank, Dr. Liz Wynn, DVM, Howard Baskin and Carole Baskin.

If you find this inspirational please help us fund our important rescue and education mission:

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