Sometimes it takes good friends to set you straight. And sometimes those friends can reveal to you something so profound, it shifts your self-concept completely and launches you into an exciting new orbit.
Let me explain.
I was visiting with a friend recently, and we were discussing where we were in our lives and getting caught up. Talk eventually turned to analyzing people we both knew and guessing whether they were Type A or Type B personalities*.
I mentioned that I thought I was becoming more Type B as I was getting older. You know, mellowing out a bit. My friend looked at me, surprised. He flatly disagreed, insisting I’d never been a Type A; I’d always been a Type B.
What? Me? A Type B? This rocked my world.
Yet three of the hallmark traits of a Type B personality — creative, imaginative and philosophical — are so very me. How could I have missed this facet of my true personality? Did being Type A seem somehow better? More legitimate?
One thing is for sure, you could never call me lazy. I was a straight A student, co-captain of the swimming team, class president (although not a very good one), class valedictorian, and a suma cum laude college graduate. I’ve run my own business for more than two decades. I’m an accomplished professional writer, speaker, and consultant. I get things done, I work out just about every day, take on leadership roles, and consider myself successful. I like to do things right and I get anxious about making mistakes, failing, or not being prepared. I get those recurring dreams about being at college and forgetting to go to class (or not knowing where the class is) and then discovering it’s time to take the final.
Yada. Yada. Yada. I thought all this made me Type A. Yet, all these years (and this is kind of funny), I never felt I was a very good Type A. I wasn’t quite as organized and clutter-free as my other Type A friends. I wasn’t quite as ambitious and driven. To me, being overly process-oriented and systematic equates to Dullsville. I’d rather be my own boss, set my own schedule, and do interesting and creative work that matters to me. I like to get things done, but in my own quirky, meandering way. Further, I like to be surrounded by things that inspire me: notebooks and journals, sticky notes, Sharpies, newspaper clippings, knick knacks, and art. Even better, I take frequent breaks to go sit on my deck and look at the sky, the birds, and the trees.
If was a Type A, I felt like I probably needed to go to Type A Refresher Camp.
So what’s been my hang-up with being a Type B? Have I been afraid it would make me less? Smaller? Less successful? Not as good as the Type A’s? Somehow I never caught on until now. And, hah! Fine example I am. Didn’t I write a book where the very first chapter stresses the vital importance of knowing yourself?
What that heck?
Well, I needed more proof beyond one friend’s opinion. So a few days later I asked another good friend what she thought. Type A, right? “Nope,” she replied. “You’re definitely Type B. You still get things done and you’re a stickler for doing things well, but you’re not a Type A.”
But that is quite enough about me. I share this story, not to bore you with my navel-gazing, but to make a point and turn the lesson back around to you. What incorrect image or mold might you be trying to fit into? What have you been beating yourself up about needlessly? To quote my friend Dr. Donald Christian, “What part of your story are you not telling yourself — or others?” What truth are you waiting to hear? What could a conversation with a good friend or longtime colleague reveal to you, if you are open and vulnerable enough to “go there” and hear it? Are you willing to have your world rocked?
You know you are.
Go. Now. Pick up the phone, call a friend or colleague who really knows you, and schedule some delicious conversation time over coffee, wine, a meal or even a long walk. Get real. Ask each other powerful, engaging questions. I can’t wait to hear what epiphanies or aha’s you discover.
In the meantime, if you don’t already have my book, The Intentional Networker, get yourself a copy. I promise, reading it will help you beyond networking. As one enthusiastic reader noted. “If you’ve struggled to find an approach that’s true to your character and enables you to connect with others in a very authentic way, look no further. This is your book!”
Patti this is so timely. Having been in business only 10 months, I am finding out things about myself that were held in check for so long that I forgot they were even there. Thank you for opening that gateway for me.
Thank you, Lyn. Oh boy, sarting a new business is the perfect time to get acquainted / reacquainted with yourself! If you are going to be your own boss, it’s good to know who she is, how she operates, what her strengths and preferences are — and what pushes her buttons. Good luck and glad my post struck a chord with you.
You and I have complementary responses. I actually get offended when friends and colleagues recognize me as a Type A. I grew up in a proudly Type B household, so I didn’t get a sense of Type A-ness till I hit college. There I quickly realized that I didn’t have the grades, the energy, or, frankly, the desire to adopt that as my identity. As a reflection of my approach to life, I had this poster in my dorm room that read “Conserve Energy: Lie Down.”
I have always believed (and practiced) that stress management/relaxation is crucial to good living, so you can imagine my horror at being labeled Type A by not only my colleagues over the years but also my massage therapist. In my most relaxed state, I was called out. Youch.
This labeling has proved useful. I’ve always been a late bloomer, and I’m rather unapologetic about my Type A tendencies, now that I recognize their prevalence in my personality.
Still, I prefer a hang to a party, I watch a lot of TV, and the only types of exercise I enjoy involve lots of sitting (biking, weight machines, yoga). Here’s to embracing the contradictions! Thanks for the fun post,
Hope, appreciate your comment. Wow, more great conversation fodder for the next time we get together!
Enjoyed this post very much. I think I’m an actual type B too. Being an A is exhausting (at least for me) and can lead to adrenal fatigue!
I agree, Amy! Heavy Type A’s wear me out just watching them. I still can’t figure out why I thought that was the more desirable type to be. Took an official Type test this morning on the Psychology Today site and am definitely a middle of the road Type B. And did you know there is a Type C, too? Wow!