I feel like I should be charging for what I’m about to say to you. There are people out there making a very nice living advising how to BE more and DO less! It’s a booming industry.
Why is that? Because for all of our advances and breakthroughs, we still crave the simplicity of being, free of expectation, accepted for exactly who we are rather than what we do.
It was the revelation of the freedom to be that led me to examine my life and ask the following question,
"Am I a human being who is doing or am I a human doing who is just trying to survive?"
This question led me to the thought that we are all human beings and from that context, we do the tasks that form part of our lives.
In my role as a strategic business advisor, I use various tools to help both management and employees understand the people with whom they are working. By identifying peoples natural way of being and relating to others, we are empowered to enhance strengths and work positively with challenges to achieve a cohesive and productive workplace.
Once we have identified the broad categories, we can have a look at specific and unique parts of personalities. The reason we do this is first to help people understand who they are, and second, how they might appear to other people.
Some people would call this having a better self-awareness. I think this process also allows for better conversations and an appreciation of the diversity and unique qualities in others.
Something to keep in mind is that this understanding is built on mapping results along a continuum between two positions. The two ends of the continuum are the task orientated and the relational personalities. Many people do not fit neatly into either category but are a blend, with all the nuances and complexities of those made in the image of God.
These two broad personality categories relate closely to the BE/DO paradigm. Those who are naturally task orientated would be nearer to the DO, and those who are relationally orientated would sit closer to the BE category.
If you would like to gain a better understanding of where you sit on the continuum, I’ve included a couple of questions to assist you. Remember that it is possible to be a blend of the two, however in most people I work with there is a tendency towards one over the other.
Which of these questions do you find easier to answer?
"What do I THINK about a situation?" Or "What do I FEEL about that situation?"
The THINKERS tend to have a preference for task and the FEELERS are more inclined to be relational.
Another way you may ask the questions is; "Do I want to bring focus to a situation?" Or "Do I want to connect with people in a situation?"
People who gravitate to bringing focus tend to have a preference for tasks and those who want to connect customarily have a bent towards being relational.
I am naturally task-orientated, and my wife Fran is very much on the relational end of the continuum. Over the years this has given us many opportunities for misunderstanding, but also many occasions to appreciate how differently minded people add depth and richness to one another’s lives.
There are times when Fran will say to me, “Hey, we’re disconnected”. I’m not aware of it. So my tried and tested solution is to slow down, stop the task at hand and become relationally available to connect with her. I’m learning to manage my preference for task so I can become more relational.
At this point, I want to make something clear. When I say that some are more relationally inclined, I am NOT saying that those who are task orientated are unable to form relationships.
The difference in relationship is the challenge – both types form and maintain relationships. Task orientated people often develop relationships based on what they are involved in at the time. These bonds are meaningful and fulfilling for the task orientated person. The relational person creates bonds of relationship through the act of being connected rather than around a task or common purpose.
I say all of this, not to judge those of us who tend to DO rather than BE, but instead to make us aware that we may need to look at how our preference for the task could potentially rob us of relational connection that happens when we focus on being.
So, how can we be more and do less?
• Be present
• Be intentional
• Be relational
• Be willing to slow down
• Be willing to lay the task down for the sake of connection
• Have grace for one another in the process
Take the time to appreciate the privilege of being, and you will find that the doing still gets done.
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Andee Sellman is the founder of Land Of Seven Rivers.
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