Our elite Mastership Sourcebooks for NCFCA and Stoa will release soon! Check them out here!

You’re not all Type A.

But a lot of you are.  And so am I.

So let’s talk for a minute.  Wikipedia {if I need to write an article defending the general credibility of Wikipedia, leave me a comment} defines the “Type A” personality as those who are “ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, sensitive, truthful, impatient, [who] always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, [and] want other people to get to the point, [and who are] proactive and obsessed with time management.”  Other than “rigidly organized” and “obsessed with time management” (I’m mildly organized and a decent, but not phenomenal, time manager), that description pretty much nails me.  And from hanging around with the debate community for the last eight years of my life, I think it nails a lot of you as well.  Because I grew up in a very “Type A” family with most of my friends being NCFCAers, I assumed that most people were like me—driven, assertive, proactive, etc.  But when I went to college, I was in for a culture shock.  Many people I met were relaxed, non-assertive, and almost lackadaisical.  Lately, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about the dangers, strengths, and difficulties of being a “Type A” person in a not-so-Type-A generation.  I’d like to share five of them with those of you who hold strong “Type A” tendencies.

1. Relationships Matter Most.

There’s a lot of noble actions and reform than need to take place in the world, and no doubt you are determined to go out there and make a difference.  Kudos to you.  But don’t forget the people who walk side by side with you every day are in desperate need of help.  The human soul is eternal; it is worth investing in.  Many issues that people face—addiction, depression, abuse, sickness, etc.—can be most effectively solved by someone coming alongside a struggling person and committing to forming a strong, supportive relationship with that person (being the hands and feet of Christ).  Often, relationships change and help people more than pamphlets, products, and programs.

2. Superiority Stinks

This is the hardest for me.  You may have  a 4.0 GPA, have lined up three top internships, own a small business, volunteer for two charities, run six miles a day, direct a school organization, and play five musical instruments (yes, these people exist).  But if you walk through life constantly conscious of your superiority and proclaiming it to the world with your attitude, you will be unapproachable and difficult to work with.  If you truly want to change the world, you have to be dedicated to building relationships with other people, because teamwork is crucial for enacting almost any type of societal change.  God created us to be in relationship with others, not to be high-achieving loners.  Contrary to what many people think, self-proclaimed brilliance (even if the self-proclamation is accurate) is not attractive.

3. Motivate, Motivate, Motivate

Just because many of the people you know are not as proactive and assertive as you are about important issues does not mean that they are unwilling to be motivated.  When I feel like I am the only one doing anything about a particular issue, I often fall into the trap of complaining and starting a “nobody cares” self-pity party.  A much more helpful response is to commit yourself to motivating those around you.  This approach requires likability (see tips 1 and 2) creativity, patience, and good communication skills.  But if you commit to developing those traits, you will be encouraged to see that many people around you don’t lack caring hearts; they simple lack initiative.  Our generation needs leaders to harness and motivate the compassionate hearts of their peers.

4. Watch the Status Obsession

If you self-identify as “Type A,” it’s easy to fall into the “this is just the way I am” trap.  But personal values are something we can and must change about ourselves if they are not lining up with God’s character.  I’ve run into this issue often with my personal value of status and recognition.  When you really read God’s Word, there is an almost deafening silence on the importance of achieving status in this age.  God certainly uses people in both high and low status situations, but He doesn’t call His children to focus their lives on status achievement.  So if your highest goal in life is to attend an Ivy League school, earn a high salary, or become president of a top corporation, take the time to pray, check your motivations and consider if God might have an even greater, but perhaps less-recognizable, dream for your life.

5. Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Strengths

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to just be a “normal” person who fits the mold of the typical college (or in your case, high school or middle school) crowd.  Sometimes I get extremely tired of always sticking out as the “smart,” “ambitious,” or “activist” student (not that I am always these things, but yet I seem to attract the label).  If you’ve followed tips 1-4 and are striving to be humble, but still seem to not fit-in with your peers quite as well as you would like, don’t worry about it.  If you manage to be driven, proactive, and ambitious while being approachable and gracious, you may still never be homecoming king or queen (wait, you’re all homeschooled… :D), but you will have a good chance of be valued and respected by those around you.  Being the person God created you to be and following His calling for your life is far more important than achieving top popularity.  After all, it’s not you that will change the world; it’s the life of Christ within you, permeating all that you do.  So go live life with vigor in His power!

%d bloggers like this: