I’m not always right.
There, I’ve said it.
Gary and my kids have known this for years. But it took me a while to figure it out.
Part of my About Danita page tells of my early desires to pursue a career in law as a means to a career in politics. My ability to stand my ground and not back down would have served me well.
And, honestly, those qualities have served me well other places, too. I never seriously considered drinking alcohol in high school even though it was around me. I never seriously considered engaging in sexual activity prior to marriage. I had made up my mind that better paths existed, and I took them. I stood my ground and did not back down.
…those same qualities are not always virtuous in relationships.
Gary, Caitlyn, Tyler and I spent several hours in a car together over Labor Day weekend traveling to and from a family wedding. To help pass the time, Caitlyn provided hours of entertainment and aha moments by administering a personality profile she had taken a few days earlier.
Most personality profiles come down to 4 types. This one’s four categories identifies people as either a lion, a beaver, an otter or a golden retriever.
Here’s a quick (albeit incomplete) description of each one quoting the first one or two sentences from the literature:
“Lions are leaders. They are the bosses at work…or at least they think they are!” (Italics from literature, not from me.)
“Otters are excitable, fun seeking, cheerleader types who love to talk!”
“Beavers have a strong need to do things right and by the book. In fact, they are the kind of people who actually read instruction manuals.”
“One word describes Golden Retrievers: LOYAL. They are so loyal, in fact, that they can absorb the most emotional pain and punishment in a relationship and still stay committed.”
I’m a lion.(sigh)
I’d rather be a golden retriever. A golden retriever named Lucy lives next door. She’s awesome. Who wouldn’t like to be around a golden retriever?
When I was in my 20s and starting in my career (which was never law or politics), I would have LOVED taking a personality profile and finding out I’m a lion. That information would have energized and motivated me. After all, I was out to change the world. Who could better change the world than someone with a lion personality?
I’m no longer in my 20s. And I’m no longer interested in changing the world in one fell swoop. I’m now interested in effecting change through individual relationships.
Somehow, a lion doesn’t seem suited for that. So, what’s a lion like me to do?
I’m glad you asked.
I can embrace the natural strengths of a lion (being a risk-taker, being persistent and taking initiative), understand the natural weaknesses of this personality type (being impulsive, demanding and a poor listener) and then…
I can (wait for it) choose to think before I act.
I can allow myself to “lion” all over the place when it’s appropriate and the situation warrants (and sometimes it is appropriate).
But if a situation would be better served without a lion or with a constrained lion, I can (1) remind myself that I am not always right, (2) decide what actions would allow the most positive outcome, and then (3) choose the optimum response.
In the animal kingdom, a lion is a lion is a lion. He will act as his basic instinct dictates. All. Day. Long.
But I am a human who happens to have a lion-type personality. I do not act only out of instinct. I could. I could “lion” all over everyone and then stand back, look at the destruction and devastation and say, “Sorry, I can’t help it. That’s who I am, and you’ll have to deal with it.”
Wow, that would be ugly and hurtful.
In I Corinthians 10:33, Paul wrote:
“I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.”
Living out that verse may be natural to a golden retriever-type person. Or maybe not. Maybe all humans have to fight against instinct. (Please tell me this is true.)
One thing I know — living out I Corinthians 10:33 is NOT natural to me.
But it is important to me. It’s worth every effort it takes to set my natural tendencies aside and realize my actions don’t have to be ruled by those tendencies.
Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of your personality? Do your instincts hurt relationships? Or are you able to overcome them for the benefit of others? Do you have some practical examples you could share with me? Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/arnolouise/3532667357/”>Arno Meintjes Wildlife</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>c</a>