Article length: 1,300 words
Reading time: 4-7 minutes
Take home: We cannot look at qualities as simply good or bad. Often what makes us successful in one area is the key to the downfall in another. We are who we are.
Over the past few months I've read several books that have lead me to an important questions "Is a disability really a disability"
Do introverts need to learn how to be chipper? Do extroverts need to learn to chill?
The more I learn and think about the topic, the more I realize conformity sucks.
Doesn't it make more sense to use our natural abilities to guide our subsequent behaviors? Not attempting to fit a square peg into a round hole.
We seem to have this distorted view of ourselves. Our brains and society prefer conformity. This is good, that is bad. What if I told you that those same "bad" qualities are the reason you're good at something else? That your success in one activity is the reason you struggle in another. Throughout the next few posts we'll discuss just that and it's potential for performance. Let's start with one of most influential men over the past 50 years.
If you haven't read Jobs by Walter Isaacson - I suggest it
The read won't give you a direct blueprint to success, but it will teach you a lot about the man that changed the technology industry. The book is full of Jobs’ personality, good and bad - that’s the point.
What made Jobs’ great also made him undesirable.
No trait is purely good or bad, there’s a balance.
Jobs’ was obsessed with perfection and incredibly hard-working.
He was notoriously hard on his employees, but several of them were quoted saying they appreciated him after the fact, since without his pushing they never would have known their potential.
His obsession with perfection gave us products year after year that blew our minds.
Perfectionism and determinism comes at a cost – throughout his years at Apple, Pixar and NeXT, Jobs drove many employees away with his overly demanding demeanor.
You may have also noticed that Apple products all seem to be beautifully simple.
When Apple was creating the first iPod, Jobs was frustrated with other mp3 players on the market, deeming them too complicated. Jobs challenged his team to design the iPod so any song or function could be made in three clicks or less. The user friendliness of all Apple products is a trademark.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
The combination of Jobs’ preference for simplicity and his need for perfection lead to him rarely purchasing furniture for his houses (which weren't as large as you'd think.)
Jobs had an uncanny ability to choose what he cared about – often giving him a laser beam focus.
Jobs insisted that Apple focus on just two or three priorities at a time.
“There is no one better at turning off the noise that is going on around him,” Cook said. “That allows him to focus on a few things and say no to many things. Few people are really good at that.“
This same ability to ignore didn’t serve him well in his family life or with his battle with cancer. Throughout the book there are stories of Jobs being “cold” towards family and friends, particularly not speaking with his daughter for years at a time.
The same story played out while Jobs was battling cancer, with his inability to accept sickness and get timely treatment. Jobs worked with his usual vigor until spouts hit where he’d have to be hospitalized, only to return to work soon after.
How We're All Like Steve Jobs
The more people I'm exposed to in the field of exercise, nutrition and various sciences the more I realized how much personality creates certain systems.
Take trainers for an example, like the minimalistic trainer.
These guys/gals typically think all you need to do is squat to build a nice booty. Maybe they think all isolation/concentration exercises are a waste or that workouts only need to take 30 minutes. They have some bias and this bias isn't necessarily a reflection of their training philosophies, as much as it's a reflection of their personality.
Think of the minimalistic trainers you know. Chances are they aren't the type of people who track every dime of their finances, color coordinate their closets or have seven syllables in their Starbucks drink (yes, I reference coffee a lot.)
They are minimalistic with training because their minimalistic in life.
Paralysis by Analysis Trainer
The same holds true for the overthinkers of training.
Maybe they give clients new workouts every two weeks. They're always looking for that new "thing" that's missing from a program. The second a new article or program comes out they're quick to jump ship from their program. They over prescribe exercises thinking everything has merit for everyone. When you hear programs like "Anaerobic threshold emphasis with lactate capacity and CNS fatigue management" you can bet you're dealing with this type of personality.
These are the same kind of people that love buying the newest form of technology, hopping on sport team bandwagons and take 10 minutes to order something at McDonalds.
As a final example, there are trainers that love showing clients objective results. Their squat increased by 20 lbs. in 3 months (and you're likely to see this in a neat graph), your bodyfat percentage went down 7% in 6 months (also a graph, but different colors), etc, etc.
These are the kind of people that read restaurant reviews online before going, know how much gas money they spent last month and remember the grade they got freshman year in world geography.
*I'd put myself in this category
These trainers like to track their clients progress, set goals and show results because of their personal bias. Not because of certain books they've read or training experience they've been exposed to. If anything the books they've read and training "experience" is also clouded by this same bias.
Bias cannot be removed
We all carry with us unique genetics, life experiences and preferences. No one is particular has a better or worse bias, they are what they are. They can only hurt us if we're ignorant or actively fight against them.
Going with theme, someone who is insanely analytical will struggle with mass flexibility, but there's nothing wrong with that.
This may seem semantic, but it's critically important when selecting a coach.
It's in your best interest to find a trainer has a similar personality.
Because we are who we are - and it's not likely that the same person who treats people for rehabilitation is going to prep you to break an American record.
Not only does this apply to finding the right coach, but also the right training style of atmosphere.
If you're naturally quiet and introverted, heavy metal and viscous slaps on the back may not be the best squatting atmosphere. For others that same atmosphere could spark a PR.
Be who you are - while picking a coach, training style and training atmosphere.
More than training
This push and pull concept is clearly not exclusive to training - it's everywhere.
Personality types that are incredibly outgoing and social will flourish in a sales position, but this same person would find writing a book nearly impossible.
A naturally introverted individual may possess the discipline and concentration to find the cure for cancer, but couldn't sell an iPhone to a billionaires 14-year-old daughter.
Because are our ups are our downs, we can't possibly be great at everything.
The faster we find that out the quicker we'll reach our full potential.