Are Some of Us Hardwired to Acheive More?

Last week on Love Handles, I brought up the topic of productivity and accomplishments and how some personalities might be predisposed to accomplishing more. The topic began with an exploration of Gretchen Rubin’s work on The Four Tendencies, where she delves into four distinct personality types and why things are easier for some to accomplish, while difficult for others, and how we can better understand ourselves to better our lives.

She starts by breaking it down by outer expectations vs. inner expectations, and depending on whether or not you meet and outer or inner expectations, you fall into one of the four categories. Outer expectations are the expectations that come to us from other people, such as a work deadline, friend requests, or any source that is outside of ourselves. Our inner expectations are the expectations that we place on ourselves, such as whether or not we want to write a book or eat healthier.

Categorically, the four tendencies break down into these profiles and you can take a quiz Rubin came up with to help you figure it out for yourself.


The Upholder.jpg

The Upholder: readily meet outer and inner expectations. They meet the work deadline and keep their New Year’s resolution.They want to know what others expect from them, but they also are very keen on their own personal expectations.

The Questioner

The Questioner: question all expectations. They’ll do something only if they think it makes sense—in a way, they turn everything into an inner expectation. If it meets their inner standard then they will oblige, if not, then they need to know why they should do this?

The Obligers

The Obligers: readily meet outer expectations, but often struggle with maintaining their inner expectations. They meet work deadlines but often cannot keep their New Year’s Resolution.

The Rebels

The Rebels: defy all outer and inner expectations. They must do everything in their own way, own time, and will resist almost anything anyone asks them to do. Often, they resist even telling themselves to do anything.


When first hearing about this I was immediately resistant, primarily because I feel like I don’t like to be assigned a label, and then I realized my results were correct, I’m the rebel.

The tendencies allow you to show more compassion and understanding for other people because you can see that something may come easily for you, but its a struggle for others.

The reason the four personality profiles work so well and why Rubin receives thousands of questions a day about the topic is because it follows such a specific element of a personality and crams it into the genre of expectations. The framework that it fits itself into simply explains why we act or don’t act, that’s it.

It just works—and Rubin herself often says most people immediately know which category they naturally fall into.

I have had quite a few people in my life get irritated whenever I try to ask them what their zodiac sign is because they feel it is such a vague interpretation of a personality. But I often disagree because we are more similar to other people than you think, but our subtle differences are what makes us unique. In the same sense, defining ourselves by any sort of category or personality profile, allows us to shine a spotlight on an aspect of our personality that can encourage deeper self-discovery and growth.

I’ve already started cataloging everyone I know, but as for myself, I feel a need to hone my rebellion and allow it to work for me instead of feeling like it always does the opposite. Any “rebels-without-a-cause” out there?

Will you join me in my rebellion?

Probably not because you will rebel against me wanting you to do anything for anyone other than yourself.

Really they should just call us selfish.