Many of the articles we read are about what we need to change to become better in work and life. Be a better communicator. Be a better planner. Use our time more effectively. Get to the gym. Eat fewer carbs.
But sometimes it is important to consider who we are, not as a starting point for change, but to leverage what we know about ourselves and play to it. Gretchen Rubin, author of books such as The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies, says that examining responses to internal and external expectations can help us see who we are and who others are, while helping us build habits that consider our tendencies, rather than seeking to upend them.
When thinking about how you respond to expectations, which of these resonates?
Upholders respond to internal and external expectations.
Questioners meet expectations when they deem them to be justified, i.e. they only respond to internal expectations.
Obligers focus on outward expectations and minimize internal expectations.
Rebels disregard all expectations, including their own.
Again, these categories are about self-awareness, not creating a new checklist of changes to make. Knowing yourself in this capacity can help you motivate yourself through changes when they are needed, and can help you identify ways to motivate others.
In a similar approach, the Kolbe A™ Index assessment measures your natural modus operandi, or gut instinct, and encourages an approach that plays to strengths. Instincts measured by the index capture people in these four categories:
Fact Finders. How one gathers and shares information.
Follow-Through. How one organizes.
Quick Start. How one deals with risks and uncertainty.
Implementor. How one handles space and tangibles.
Knowing your instincts can help you avoid the “square peg-round hole” pattern that can inhibit job satisfaction. Aligning work with instinct is a great way to increase productivity.
How often do you think of what you’re best at, what makes you feel like you’re in a zone?
Do you ask this question of people you work with or supervise? How can you support their best work selves?