According to your answers, your dominant Tendency is Rebel.
The “Four Tendencies” framework describes how we respond to expectations. We all face two kinds of expectations:
- inner expectations, such as quitting napping or keeping a New Year’s resolution.
Questioner: “I do what I think is best, according to my judgment. If it doesn’t make sense, I won’t do it.”
Obliger: “I do what I have to do. I don’t want to let others down, but I may let myself down.”
Rebel: “I do what I want, in my own way. If you try to make me do something—even if I try to make myself do something—I’m less likely to do it.”
So what does it mean to be an Rebel?
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. They choose to act from a sense of choice, of freedom. Rebels wake up and think, “What do I want to do today?”
Rebels place a high value on authenticity and self-determination, and bring an unshackled spirit to what they do. Rebels work toward their own goals, in their own way, and while they refuse to do what they’re “supposed” to do, they can accomplish their own aims.
It’s important to remember that Rebels can do anything they choose to do, and they seek to live up to their own identity and their values.
At the same time, Rebels often frustrate others, because they can’t be asked or told to do anything. Unless it’s a matter of living up to their values and identity, they aren’t persuaded by an argument such as: “People are counting on you,” “You said you’d do it,” “Your brother will be upset,” “This is the deadline,” or “Everyone has to do this.”
In fact, asking or telling Rebels to do something often makes them do just the opposite. The people around Rebels must guard against accidentally igniting their spirit of opposition—particularly challenging for the parents of Rebel children.
Rebels resist control, even self-control, and usually enjoy flouting rules and expectations.
In fact, Rebels sometimes frustrate even themselves, because they can’t tell themselves what to do.
For the most part, they don’t respond well to supervision, advice, directions, reminders, nagging, or routines, or doing repetitive tasks. They prefer spontaneity to scheduling. They may act as though the rules don’t apply to them.
If a Rebel is in a long-term relationship in work or romance, the Rebel’s partner is probably an Obliger.
To inspire a Rebel to act, it’s most effective to:
- appeal to their identity—many Rebels place a high value on idealistic identities such “I’m a loving parent,” “I’m a strong, engaged boss,” “I’m a successful entrepreneur”), or
- use information-consequence-choice when explaining a task—“My experiences with my previous patients shows that when people do their post-op rehabilitation exercises, they’re much more likely to regain full strength, independence, and experience less pain. But of course it’s up to you to decide what you want to do.”
As outlined in Better Than Before, my book about habit change, certain strategies for habit change tend to have special appeal for Rebels.
Rebels tend to resist habits, because they want to act with a sense of choice and freedom, and they often prefer to be spontaneous rather than to plan or schedule. Nevertheless, if you’re a Rebel trying to form a habit-like behavior of exercise, you might:
- Focus on why you want to exercise—it makes you feel energetic and alive; it’s fun; you love a challenge (Strategy of Clarity)
- Consider how exercise allow you to be true to yourself–you’ve always been an athlete; you’re a person who refuses to stay cooped up inside all day (Strategy of Identity)
- Exercise in a way that sets you apart from what people usually do (Strategy of Other People)
When we understand ourselves and how our Tendency shapes our perspective on the world, we can adapt our circumstances to suit our own nature—and when we understand how other people’s Tendencies shape their perspective, we can engage with them more effectively.
The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act.