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Gretchen Ruben is an American author and lawyer, and I have enjoyed reading a couple of her books, most notably her last one – which has become an accidental precursor to her next book. In said next book, she will expand upon what she has called The Four Tendencies. These tendencies are four ways in which we can identify our predilection and motivation for action, or otherwise. Three of those are Upholder, Questioner and Rebel. Those of you who know me have already decided which of those three I am.

Guess what? You’re wrong.

According to the definitions and the pseudo-test she has provided and which I have circulated through Facebook (as requested by the test – read on and giggle), I am the fourth type – an Obliger.

Stop laughing.

An Obliger is defined as responding ‘readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.’

To me, that means that when a person is called upon to do something for others, they do it. But when they have to do something for themselves, they don’t.

I see me in that definition. A sense of duty exists at the workplace, of course. Most of the time I go about my business routinely. I’ll plan my time to enable completion of the required work. But sometimes, when asked to do something, I might (do) whinge and bitch and suggest there is a better way. Nevertheless, in the end, I always do it. I oblige.

But when I call upon myself to do something and the only person to whom I am accountable and responsible is me – I waiver. A lot, in my experience. Even if I have seemingly volunteered to join some enterprise, I haven’t created an inner obligation – I have self-created an obligation to another.

A good friend recently suggested something to me, and while he isn’t aware of the Tendencies I think he did inadvertently confirm the solution for an Obliger. I had ‘complained’ that once when I get to the gym I can train – but thinking about going to the gym often stopped me actually doing it.

He suggested that when it comes to physical exercise (and my stated reluctance to go to a gym unless I could go there straight from work without having to think of something else in between) I would improve my chances if I exercised with someone else. Think about that – going alone is a problem, but if someone else was involved, my Obliger Tendency would ensure that I honoured my commitment to that other person.

Thinking through this using the paradigm of the Three Resolutions, any reluctance to comply with the First Resolution could and would be offset by compliance with the Third Resolution, confirming my hypothesis that adherence to one Resolution often serves compliance with another. Serving a friend would also and simultaneously serve me. So, where discipline is weak, service can provide support.

Me and Gretchen – we’re thinking along the same lines.

Today’s joke – Matt Damon’s chicken dinner has gone cold. Bourne’s Supreme’s icy.

Please buy me.

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