On a recent run, I was listening to the audiobook of Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies. Rubin was describing each tendency and it hit me that I was a complete Obliger, someone who is better at holding themselves accountable to others than for themselves.
In fact, I was even running 17 miles on a Sunday in February in New England, because I had signed up for a marathon with my sister-in-law so we would both have a reason to run to stay in shape. Otherwise, there was no way in hell I’d ever be running that long, especially in winter. I didn’t even have to take the quiz, which is really hard to do when listening to an audio book a run anyway, for confirmation. Every sentence about Obligers seemed to be a perfect description of me from the positive to the negatives. Seriously, I think Rubin has been spying on me.
Before I go into more about what I learned for myself, let me explain a bit about each of The Four Tendencies. After writing about happiness and during the process of writing about habits, Rubin learned that sh
e could break people up into four distinct groups: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.
Upholders are self-starters who always hold themselves accountable to expectations. They are always crossing off items on the To Do list and wonder why others struggle to do the same.
Questioners need answers to everything. I think of one of my brothers, who didn’t want to do anything he didn’t see a good reason to. Because Mom says, was not good enough.
Rebels like to do the opposite of what is expected. As soon as they should do something, they lose interest even if it’s what they know they should do. My Dad telling me that I want a pony for my birthday, worked as reverse psychology for me. I never was that into horses, excluding My Little Ponies.
Obligers, as I mentioned above, tend to do put others before themselves. My own To Do list gets puts aside to fulfill an expectation for someone else. When I have a deadline for getting a task done, I may procrastinate, but it’s done by that time.
The interesting comment that struck home was how Obligers tend to be asked to take on more, because our internal duty to others minimizes our desire to say No. This leads us to feeling resentful about the extra responsibility that we tend to take on, which I have spent a lot of time feeling in my work career.
No wonder I tend to burn out. I am an Obliger who takes on a lot of responsibility that includes a lot of emotional labor. I am a recipe for disaster if I don’t manage myself well, which I’m learning to do.
Then there is the problem that I am frustrated by my own lack of accomplishment in what I need to do for myself and AnamBliss. Seriously, I’ve been working on a project for months with other outside influences taking priority. The cure for this is to have outside accountability, something that I already had in the works as I am putting together a mastermind group with another business owner. Talk about excellent timing!
I expect there to be a natural internal struggle with myself. Having more information on how I naturally veer means that I have a greater awareness for when I am heading into a pitfall I don’t want to go.
Knowing about all of the four tendencies can also assist me in my professional career to provide better service. Having a bit of insight into each of the four tendencies thought processes with some excellent tips on how to better manage expectations can be immensely useful to defuse potential conflicts with staff and clients. Even just thinking about how to use language to speak to each tendency on a sales page or in write ups can help attract more clients.
While I may be drawn to read (or listen) to books on psychology or self-improvement for greater insight into myself, the opportunity to apply what I learn to a greater spectrum is a huge added benefit.
Kate Hamm combines her 15+ years of experience in the fitness industry and high-end resort program development into sought after wellness adventures at AnamBliss. Visit www.anambliss.com for future retreat dates and locations.