I am writing this column from LA, where I am visiting family. Getting to LA from Galena, IL is not an easy task. I left home at 4:30 am to find parking near O’Hare and make a 9:30 flight.
While on the long drive to Chicago at an early hour, with insufficient sleep, I was not an especially attentive driver. My car beeped once, then displayed a message “Do you want to take a rest?” My reaction alternated between “Is my car talking to me?” to “What does my car know that I don’t know?” I didn’t realize that my driving was at all impaired. Then my mind processed this information with the pros and cons of stopping to rest. I needed to make a flight, wasn’t sure how much time I needed to find parking and take a shuttle, and I wanted to avoid Chicago traffic. I ultimately chose to pull over for a Chai Latte mixed with cold air and was immediately refreshed. At that point I congratulated myself for being smart enough to take direction from my smart car.
This made me wonder whether I am normally one to accept guidance from others.
Author Gretchen Rubin developed a framework to describe how we respond to expectations. She identified four tendencies that explain why we act and why we don’t act in many situations. These are:
The Upholder: “I do what others expect of me and what I expect from myself.”
The Questioner: “I do what I think is best, according to my judgment. If it doesn’t make sense, I won’t do it.”
The Obliger: “I do what I have to do. I don’t want to let others down, but I may let myself down.”
The 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, my process of debating whether to follow guidance from my car, seemed to indicate that I am a questioner. I had to process the cars advise with my own judgment. However, upon taking the “Four Tendencies” quiz, my primary dominant tendency is Rebel. I thought this was probably inaccurate, but my sister, as only a sister does, provided a number of examples of my being a Rebel. Upon reflection, it does seem to be an apt description of my dominant approach to life.
Many people cannot follow instructions in spite of their best intentions, whether it is assembling furniture or learning how to use software. In fact, the more intelligent people are, the less likely they are to follow instructions.
If you want to understand your own tendency toward expectations, take the quiz at quiz.gretchenrubin.com.