The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better by Gretchen Rubin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a quick look at how we set and accomplish goals and what motivates us to accomplish them.
The theory behind this book is that each of us falls into one of four tendencies. Upholders-motivated by internal and external expectations, Questioners- motivated internally, Obligers- motivated externally, and Rebels- Do what they want, not motivated by internal or external expectations.
Once you take the quiz at the beginning of the book, she breaks down each tendency into sections such as what motivates each tendency, strengths and weaknesses of each tendency, and how to deal with a spouse, coworker, medical patient, and child with each tendency.
There's also a section about different relationship pairings. I'm a questioner leaning toward rebel and my husband is an obliger leaning toward rebel. Which was really surprising! We are both quite stubborn but in different ways and for different reasons! When I rebel it's because I think that I know better than everyone else and my husband rebels because he doesn't want people to tell him what to do. So as you can guess that can be an interesting dynamic in a marriage! haha!
While it was an interesting premise I wasn't totally sold on each of us fitting into one box and staying there our entire life. I really felt like in certain situations I could be motivated in different ways. However, I did fall under questioner and leaned toward rebel so that could have something to do with me questioning the validity of the test. It was funny because as I was having these thoughts the book itself even validated that questioners would be the most skeptical about their results.
There were a lot of things that rung true for me as I read about my questioning tendency. I'm definitely "crackpot material" like she says and I definitely like to research things out before I leap. I sometimes get bogged down in analysis paralysis but I also get things done on time when I need to. I do find myself questioning authority quite a bit and I really hate arbitrary or inefficient rules or the answer of "that's the way we've always done it". I feel like it's super important to understand "why" you are doing something, especially when you are recommending others do it too. And I'm sure that I exhaust people (including myself at times) with my endless list of questions. I didn't really identify with the part where she said questioners don't like to be questioned. I enjoy debates a lot and love philosophy discussions, etc. I do feel frustrated when in a debate with someone who I don't feel has done enough research though so maybe that's what she means by not liking to be questioned.
I identified quite a bit with the rebel mentality also. Which I was surprised by since I live a pretty conservative life. However, I enjoy doing things differently than other people and surprising others by defying their expectations of what I might say or do next. I don't like being told I can't do something and motivate myself quite often by thinking of people who want me to fail. Like before I ran my half marathon I had someone tell me they didn't think I could do it because of my weight and my want to prove him wrong was more motivating than visualizing the finish line or anything like that! I have no problem breaking rules (especially arbitrary ones-see questioner).
I also change what I do for hobbies or jobs quite a bit. I do preschool, now I'm a runner, now I'm decorating cakes, I'm going to write a book, etc. When something becomes an expectation I find it a lot harder to do things. Like when I made cakes for fun and for free I never felt stressed and could do several a day. Once I started getting paid for cakes and was stuck to a baking schedule I suddenly felt a lot of anxiety about it! I also find it easier to help someone when I just think of doing it on my own as opposed to someone asking me. And on occasion I've not done something that were in my best interest just because someone else told me to do it. However, I think a lot of this still falls in the questioner category because a true rebel doesn't like anyone telling them what to do but I'm fine with some people telling me what to do if they have researched it out, explained why I should and I trust them as an authority.
Although I definitely saw myself within her framework I didn't feel like it was super spot on or revolutionary. I've definitely read other personality type books that seemed to peg me a little better. I also didn't feel like it necessarily gave much insight into how to use your strengths to make your life better or how to overcome weaknesses. And there were definitely some major biases on the part of the author. It was pretty easy to tell which of the tendencies she thought were good and which needed some work. She was an upholder and pretty much defended every choice ever made by an upholder and didn't really seem to do that for the others. But that's just my perception and as a questioner/rebel I'm probably biased against upholders a little bit. Sorry Ms. Rubin!
I am so excited to discuss this with my book group though. Excited to hear what others thought and what groups they are in. I think it will definitely have a great discussion!
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