Perspectives is a series about just that - perspectives: how we view the world; how we process the information and events we experience in everyday life.
In order to self-correct we must first be self-aware enough to know what needs correcting. Self-awareness entails an objective view of how we personally think and operate, which leads to a greater empathy and understanding towards others with whom our views and perspectives differ.
The heart behind this series is to examine the power of perspective through blog posts, to help illustrate and open our eyes to the power perspective can bring. At some point, your perspective and mine will undoubtedly differ... and that’s the point. This is my take on it, what’s yours?
Personality types and self-help books have been on the rise ever since the Myers-Briggs Test hit the scene in the 70’s. There are scores of books, scores of tests, scores of types - all aiming to help you understand… you. Because in understanding you, you can live your best life now. These offerings present us with hope, a hope that we can take control our own lives, a hope that we aren’t crazy, a hope that we aren’t as different from others as we think. A hope that in better understanding ourselves, we can better relate to our world and those who reside in it.
This post is my take on personality types.
Over the past few years of recording and producing The Up & Comers Show, a major theme we pursued is: what it means to “live a good life”. Living a good life can only be accomplished if you know what the “good life” is, or at least what it means to you. By diving into this theme, Adam (my co-host) and I have begun to see different models or ways to decipher what this entails. In order to cut through the noise of ideas and information, there must be some sort of structure for piecing common threads together.
One day, when I was driving and musing on this notion of similarities and differences, a light bulb went off in my mind and a seemingly simplistic definition crystalized into a new theory (new for me at least).
Growing up as a kid I desperately wished that everyone else was exactly like me. I wanted them to mirror all of my good characteristics, while pretending to ignore all of my inherent weaknesses and flaws. The older I grew, the more I saw how ignorant and prideful this perspective was, yet how often do we find ourselves still thinking that same thing? Someone cuts you off in traffic and you think: “why can’t they be as patient and kind as I am?” Your co-worker is constantly checking their phone at work and you think: “why can’t they be as hard of a worker as I am?” You see someone post a thoughtless rant on social media and you think: “why can’t they be as intentional and intelligent as me?”
We always want other people to be mirror-images of ourself, but we always forget the fact that we have our own share of flaws just like everybody else. This is a skewed perspective, one that sees the world through our own subjective lens of personal bias. While we can’t get rid of this lens, we can help dampen the bias by starting to appreciate the good in others instead of the bad, by starting to see the way others’ strengths complement our own, and by supporting each other in the ways we need help.
People are vastly different from one another. Just walk down a street in Los Angeles, CA and you will be confronted with as many differences as you can possibly imagine. Even in small-town U.S.A these differences can be seen (or at any place in the world). On the flip side, people share a lot of similar characteristics. Sometimes it is so similar that you swear they are your twin you never knew about. So while no two people are the same, there can be categorical similarities between larger groups.
This theory is my categorical grouping of human personalities.
The theory breaks down humans into three major categories. I call them “archetypes” because they are “typical examples” of broad categories that most people can be grouped into. Like the development of skill or talent, these archetypes are a combination of natural disposition and developed propensities.
So here are the Three Archetypes of Human Disposition:
(I didn’t lie when I told you it was a simplistic model!)
Be-ers, do-ers, think-ers. Which are you?
When you initially read the list you may have felt an instinctive pull to one of the categories. This is likely where you would fall, but I would encourage you to keep your mind open to the possibility of all three, in order to fairly (and objectively) evaluate your personality and perspective as I add more color to what each archetype entails.
These are the people who live life. They are naturally inclined to be, embracing the reality of what it means to be a human being. They are able to rest, they are able to experience life, they are able to embrace the joys and the comforts that life can bring, along with enduring the lows and the mundane.
Be-ers are the people who live to live. They accept the realities of life, and pursue the aspects of life that bring them joy and comfort. This is a simple life, one that struggles to find inspiration beyond the goals that are given to them.
These are the people who do work - not just like everybody else, but incessantly driving work that never ends. They naturally derive value from what they do, what they actually accomplish. They are driven by achieving, accomplishing the task that is set before them. They strive to progressively climb the ladder and be the best they can be in whatever field of work they pursue. They have an “energizer-bunny” motor that keeps running, even if it is only on fumes.
Do-oers are the people who live to work (and work to live). They see the path ahead and attack it in order to accomplish it and then move on to the next objective. This is a tiring life, one that struggles to stop, to rest, and to appreciate the beauty in and of life itself.
These are the people who think... a lot. They spend hours upon end exploring the corners of their own mind, as they converse about the implications of this theory or that. They find their energy and life in getting to think through and explore the depths of thought, understanding, and meaning in being human.
Think-ers are the people who live to think. They care more about the reasons behind any action than the action itself. They would rather spend their time learning and exploring ideas than accomplishing a tangible goal or job. This is a complicated life, and can result in greater inaction than action, yet with very established and effective reasons as to why.
So which are you?
More importantly, why does it matter?
There is a very clear goal/purpose for why I am sharing these archetypes with you. It is clear to see we are all different and we may fall into different categories or archetypes. This isn’t a better or worse, right or wrong perspective. This is a "different but equal", “separate but both important" type of perspective.
Here’s the purpose: we need each other.
Whether you’re a be-er who appreciates simply living life, doing what’s required of you and then appreciating the joys that life brings; or whether you’re a do-er who is constantly pushing towards goals and objectives to accomplish; or whether you’re a think-er who cares much more about why a thing should be done, than actually doing the thing itself - the point is: each archetype needs the balancing perspective of the others.
Regardless of which archetype we fall under, we will all benefit from incorporating the other archetypes and their perspectives into our own lives. Be-ers need to know that choosing lofty goals and pushing beyond their current role is worth it, and that having intention behind why they do what they do is equally important. Do-ers need to know that rest is essential to accomplishing their best work, and that the highest achievements always have the greatest “why’s” behind them, which requires time in thought and reflection. Think-ers need to know that the simple joys in life are just that - simple, and that thought is only a part of the equation - because without resulting action there is no virtue in thinking.
So while we all may differ, we all need to strive to embrace the strengths of the others and to incorporate their practice into our own life. This can be seen in the illustration of writing this blog post --
Being: living life and sharing in the human experience is what allows us to relate a story to others’ experience and what common existence entails. Without simply being, you won’t have relatable experiences that connect you with the rest of humanity. Knowing what it feels like to go on a run and feel the breeze against your face can only be understood by doing it and being present enough to experience it.
Thinking: allows you to connect the dots between experiences and concepts. This helps categorize and summarize what each of us experiences in a more understandable (or tangible) way. Going on a run is one thing, thinking about what you experienced in the run in order to describe it in an accurate and insightful way is another. Thinking is the step that puts structure to what it means to be.
Doing: the physical effort of typing and translating both the thoughts and experiences into words that tell an engaging and captivating story to help the audience engage and retain the information. For the experience of running to be shared with others, you must have gone on a run before and consciously understand the experience of it, you must have thought through what it felt like and reflected on how it can be explained and shared, and then you must put those thoughts into action by compiling and drafting them into sentences and paragraphs.
Each archetype is needed, yet each archetype often thinks they are the best. This is the power of perspective. We think that our natural disposition is best, which is natural... but so does everyone else.
So who’s right?
The point isn’t about who’s right, the point is about seeing the other person’s perspective. Once we can see the other’s perspective clearly enough to understand it as best as we can, then our job becomes to see the good in it and not the bad - because every archetype has strengths and weaknesses. In seeing others for who they are, we can appreciate the beauty in what they bring to the world and in how they help us in the areas where we are weak.
Of course the easier path is to see the weaknesses of others and to try and mold others into our own image or archetype. I predominately fall into the Do-er category. This means I am constantly trying to achieve, incessantly driving towards goals, fighting to not find my value in my work while often failing to do just that. I need the influence of be-ers and think-ers in my life, to help me understand that rest and simply be-ing is a good thing, and to help me understand that if I’m not thinking about why I’m doing what I do, then it will likely be disconnected from a greater purpose beyond mere achievement.
Seeing the beauty in each archetype means you are pursuing a healthy and balanced perspective - a view that sees the good in others and helps you to strive for a healthy balance in your own propensity within the archetype in which you reside.
...that’s my perspective, what’s yours?