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  • gretchenrubin 09:00:51 on 2019/04/12 Permalink
    Tags: Binge Mode, , , , Four Tendencies spotting, Game of Thrones   

    In Honor of “Game of Thrones” Season 8, I Apply My “Four Tendencies” Framework to the Principal Characters. 


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    Like many people, I'm a huge raving fan of Game of Thrones. I've twice read the books by George R.R Martin, and I've twice watched the HBO TV series. I love it!

    And I can't wait for the final season of television to begin on April 14. (And I can't wait for George R.R. Martin to publish another book, but that may be a long wait.)

    I also love the podcast Binge Mode, where co-hosts Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion do deep dives into the entire canon of Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series. In a recent episode, they sorted the main characters from Game of Thrones into the Houses of Hogwarts—yielding a surprising number of Slytherins, by the way.

    So, inspired by that effort, I decided to apply my Four Tendencies framework to the main characters of Game of Thrones. Who's an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?

    If you want to know your own Tendency, you can take the quick, free quiz here. (More than two million people have taken the quiz.) Or read the book The Four Tendencies.

    For this exercise, I'm referring to the TV show, because I've seen the show more recently than I've read the books.

    For some characters, the Tendency is fairly easy to decide. For instance...

    Stannis Baratheon is an Upholder. Consider: When Stannis and his men were besieged during war, they were saved when smuggler Davos Seaworth brought supplies through the blockade. After the war, Stannis knighted Davos for his act—but he didn’t forgive Davos’s earlier crimes; he enforced the law by chopping off the tips of the fingers on the outlaw’s left hand.

    Later, when his older brother King Robert Baratheon dies, Stannis believes the crown should pass to him, as the next-oldest male in line. So he fights to assume his rightful place, and sacrifices everything he values along the way—even though he doesn’t even seem to want to be king.

    Tyrion Lannister is a Questioner. Of everyone in the show, he is the person who asks questions like, "Why are things the way they are? How could they be done better? How could we make change to make society run more effectively?" He's seen doing research, investigating the world, finding out how different cultures do things differently.

    Jaime Lannister is an Obliger.

    Cersei Lannister is a Rebel. Note that this pair exhibits the pattern that's so often seen: when one member of a pair is a Rebel, almost always the other member is an Obliger.

    Daenerys Targaryen is an Obliger.

    Jon Stark is an Obliger.

    To determine people's Tendencies, it's not enough to see what they do; we have to understand how they think. For instance, the fact that a person is leading a "rebellion" doesn't necessarily indicate Rebel. That person might lead a rebellion against the current ruler because he or she wants to hold fast to a higher law; or because a system is arbitrary, corrupt, or inefficient; or to save the people; or because that person wants to run things in his or her own way.

    So for some characters, I can't pinpoint the Tendency.

    Arya Stark: is she a REBEL/Questioner or a QUESTIONER/Rebel? It's often very hard to decide where someone falls in this combination. For instance, it took me a long time to decide which description fit Steve Jobs (QUESTIONER/Rebel). I lean toward deeming Arya a REBEL/Questioner.

    Tywin Lannister: he could be an Obliger, but I have to say, I pick up an Upholder vibe from him—probably because he so often expresses the thought, "Why can't people around here just get things done?" which is a very typical sentiment for an Upholder.

    I've thought a lot about some of my favorite characters, but we just don't know enough about the thoughts of Sansa Stark, or Varys, or Petyr Baelish, or Margaery Tyrell.

    Agree, disagree?

    Speaking of Game of Thrones, I got a big kick out of this scene between Jaime and Cersei—it reminded me of my own "The days are long but the year are short."

    If you want to read more examples of the Four Tendencies from books and movies, here's a list.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:00:58 on 2018/10/16 Permalink
    Tags: analysis-paralysis, article, , , Four Tendencies spotting, Julie Payette, Questioners, Rebels,   

    Can You Spot the Tendency of Canada’s Governor General? 


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    I love seeing the Four Tendencies framework at work in the world.

    A thoughtful reader sent me a link to this fascinating article from Canada’s National Post, “Failure to launch: Inside Julie Payette’s turbulent first year as Governor General” with the note that judging from the article, she figured that Julie Payette was a QUESTIONER/Rebel, and did I agree?

    After reading the article, I absolutely agree.

    Julie Payette was the Canadian Space Agency’s former chief astronaut, former chief operating officer of the Montreal Science Centre, and an engineer—plus she speaks six languages and is a skilled pianist. She’s now in a very different professional role, as Canada’s Governor General. (If you don’t know what this role entails, it becomes very clear in the article.)

    So what kinds of behavior and patterns do we expect to see from Questioners? A drive for efficiency and justification. A love of research and information. A resistance to anything arbitrary. A disdain for arguments like “We’ve always done it this way” or “Because this expert says we have to do it.” A belief in their own judgments. A willingness to stick to their convictions about the best way to do something, even if that means conflict with outer expectations.

    We might also see a dislike for answering others’ questions or providing justifications. We might see analysis-paralysis.

    The article makes a crucial point, and one that we all know from our own experiences: someone can be outstanding in many respects, and yet not suited to a particular role. In my observation, when the core value of a person’s Tendency conflicts with the values of their role, that’s a big problem. If an Upholder works in a place that demands a lot of flexibility and tacit rule-bending, that might be tough. If an Obliger works in a place that requires being a self-starter, that might be tough. If a Rebel works in a place that requires a lot of oversight, coordination, and direction from the top, that might be tough.

    And if a Questioner is working in an environment that’s heavily influenced by tradition and is expected to observe and enforce rules that are somewhat arbitrary, that will be tough.

    The framing paragraph for the article reads: “Payette is perfectly suited to be an astronaut, but much less so for a job defined by strict adherence to convention, and which comes with constant public scrutiny.

    Here are some key passages from the (very long) article:

    “Payette called senior officials within the government, sources said, upset over the expectation she rearrange her schedule to accommodate the ceremony and questioning whether she actually had to be there. Could a Supreme Court justice preside instead?”

    “Payette has been locked in a year-long battle with the expectations and restraints that come with being governor general: demands on her personal time, expectations of how she should dress, what she can say in public and how she should work with politicians, diplomats and bureaucrats.”

    “Payette does not take kindly to the idea of simply rubber-stamping bureaucratic decisions. Unlike her predecessors, she questions much of the advice she receives and the papers put on her desk for signature, they said. It has sometimes been difficult to get timely sign-off from Payette on matters such as approving the awarding of honours like the Order of Canada.”

    “Michael Cox, president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, said, “We simply got an email saying Her Excellency could not accommodate us this year.” The organization, which minted brand-new medals this year with a design symbolically representing the royal connection, did not receive any explanation, according to Cox.”

    “Some of the tension in the vice-regal community comes simply from Payette’s tendency to question why she should adhere to rules that she considers asinine, and that those surrounding her consider sacrosanct.”

    “In late May, Payette wore her NASA Exceptional Service Medal for an international symposium on honours and heraldry at Rideau Hall. In doing so, she appears to have contravened an Order-in-Council setting out what Governors General can display on their person — what some say is a technical violation of the law, and in a room full of the very people who care more about such rules than anybody else in the world.”

    “The space medal incident, which has become infamous in Canada’s small circle of honours experts, may seem trivial beyond that community. Given that the entire essence of Payette’s job as governor general is ceremonial, her purpose to uphold protocol, to some observers such transgressions raise the question of why Payette accepted the job in the first place.”

    “As remarkable and accomplished as Payette undoubtedly is, it is possible her particular skills, priorities and personality were always going to make her a difficult fit for the role.”

    “The Globe and Mail reported last week that Payette has ruffled the feathers of her security detail, which feels she has put her own safety at risk by keeping them ill-informed of her whereabouts.”

    “In the first six months, I was like, ‘I want her to succeed,’ ” said one long-time observer of the office. “She looks great on paper, her resume says she should be a great success at this, and be able to connect in a way in which other people have not been able to. But it’s been—it’s just the wrong personality for this job.”

    What do you think? To me it sounds like a brilliant Questioner—in a position that cuts against the Questioner Tendency.

    If you want to take my short, free quiz, to find out if you’re a Questioner, Upholder, Obliger, or Rebel, take it here. Almost 1.7 million people have taken it at this point.

    If you want to dive deeper into the Four Tendencies and learn how to harness the strengths and manage the weaknesses or you Tendency, take my new video course.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:00:28 on 2018/09/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Four Tendencies spotting, Matt Klam, , , , Who is Rich?   

    A Novel Depicts an Obliger in Deep Obliger-Rebellion (He Has an Affair and Spends All His Money) 


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    On a recent trip to Texas, I finished Matt Klam’s novel Who Is Rich? This novel came out in 2017 and got a lot of buzz.

    It’s about the once-famous cartoonist Rich who has stalled out in his career. Every summer, he teaches a week-long class at an arts conference in a beachside town. He’s married with two children, and has also been carrying on an affair for a year with Amy, another teacher at the conference. The novel focuses on what happens during the week of the arts conference when Rich and Amy are there together again.

    I enjoyed the book very much, and I was especially interested to see the Four Tendencies in action. I’m always on the hunt for the Tendencies! This story involves two Obligers: Rich and Amy. Rich’s wife Robin may also be an Obliger, but we don’t see enough of her to judge.

    Rich is definitely an Obliger. He’s having Obliger thoughts and facing Obliger challenges; he shows Obliger strengths and weaknesses. He’s spinning out in major Obliger-rebellion.

    I won’t give away everything that happens, but his Tendency shows most clearly in a few places.

    For instance, he reflects, "People make you do things you don’t want to do." Now of course, all Tendencies have to do things they don’t want to do; this is true for everyone. But it has particular bite for Obligers.

    Rich’s wife Robin is always telling him they need more money; he doesn’t earn enough; they must scrimp and cut back. In an act of deep Obliger-rebellion, Rich buys Robin a $3,000 bracelet, a dollar amount that he knows will wipe out the checking account of their cash-strapped family. He thinks: "From this distance, Robin couldn’t do anything to stop me. I’d worked hard to earn these precious funds to buy a gift she didn’t want or need, to signify my love."

    Then, in further Obliger-rebellion, Rich doesn’t give the bracelet to his wife, but instead gives it to his lover Amy—who, by the way, is a multi-multi-millionaire. (For instance, to play in a softball game, she wears a pair of diamond earrings worth more than $220,000).

    When Obligers enter a state of Obliger-rebellion, they often feel that they’re acting out of character. They’re puzzled by their own actions. As he buys the bracelet, Rich thinks, "I attempted to interpret my irrational action. Had I ever done this kind of thing before? No. A life in the arts requires vigilance and restraint. Was my behavior out of character? Yes, technically, and also terrifyingly, although it was possible that this was merely the culmination of a period of interior deadness and anger, that something had been building for months, or years, that the recent and ongoing stresses had pushed me over the edge."

    Obliger-rebellion is mysterious and important. It blows up a situation—which can be beneficial, absolutely, but can also be destructive.

    Many people have emailed me with examples of the Four Tendencies they’ve spotted in books, TV, and movies. Keep them coming!

     
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