The Same, but for Very Different Reasons

IT’S ALL ABOUT WHAT MOTIVATES

Do not be surprised when you discover that you have a significant behavior or tendency in common with someone, who otherwise, has a very different personality than yours.  Several behaviors are shared on the personality chart, but for different reasons.  Understanding the motivation behind behavior is important in order to correctly identify true personality type.  I have put traits that generally trip people up in bold type.

Both the Popular Sanguine and the Powerful Choleric are talkative.  Sanguines are telling stories, creating small talk and sharing new ideas in order to meet their emotional need for attention.  On the other hand, cholerics are talking with purpose — giving instruction, asking questions, providing their solutions and getting down to business in order to get something marked off their to-do list.

These two personalities are also both natural leaders whom others follow.  Sanguines lead because people are drawn to their enthusiasm and constant activity.  Sanguines draw a crowd, which quickly becomes an audience.  Cholerics lead because they must.  They need followers in order to accomplish their purpose or project, and so they have a commanding personality.

One last thing the optimistic Sanguine and Choleric have in common is denial.   Sanguines do not particularly like to focus on things that are not fun, and Cholerics struggle deeply with admitting faults or wanting to identify another thing they will have to fix.

The Popular Sanguine also has commonalities with the Peaceful Phlegmatic.  Both personalities are often associated with playfulness.  Sanguines love to relieve stress through play.  Phlegmatics also like to play through quiet, calm activity where they can sit down in contrast to the sanguine who plays loud and with others in a rouse of activity.

A negative trait these two personalities share is laziness.  Sanguines prefer fun over work.  Period.  Phlegmatics are low-energy people who are not spurred to action until it becomes necessary.

The Peaceful Phlegmatic also shares a few behaviors with the other introverted personality, the Perfect Melancholy.  Both are fearful, quiet and cautious.  By nature, phlegmatics are more quick to retreat than the other personalities, so they often find themselves being bullied or pressured into uncomfortable situations where they are forced to pick a side.  These experiences cause them to become fearful about “next time,” and they determine it is safer to stay home.  The Melancholy personality is constantly questioning life and pondering the “what-ifs?”  Fear dominates through all of the terrible scenarios that could happen rather than in the reality of what is.

Also, both the Peaceful Phlegmatic and Perfect Melancholy are quiet.  However, phlegmatics are not necessarily shy; they are just content to watch and listen.  They are not compelled to ask questions or give advice.  The melancholy, however, is a naturally shy person.  It is not that melancholies have nothing to say, but usually they are anxious about saying something in the wrong way and looking foolish.  They prefer writing over talking so that they can review their words before sending them forth.

These two are both cautious.  The phlegmatic always asks, “how much energy is this going to take?”  as well as “how much stress will this cause me?”  The melancholy is cautious because they want things to be done right, according to plan and well thought out.  They cannot risk looking unprepared or foolish to others.

Powerful Choleric and Perfect Melancholies share the workaholic tendency and are both controlling.   Starting with the latter, people almost always assume that if someone is controlling they must be choleric.  Not true.  Cholerics take control because they take real issue with wasting time, and they generally feel their way is the best way and any other way is “stupid.”  They have trouble submitting to someone else’s agenda, so they take control.  Melancholies, however, can also be a controlling force because of their fear that something will not be done perfectly and others will notice the imperfections.  So, they take control.  With the same goals in mind, both may become workaholics in order to accomplish their desires or to see to it that no one else messes things up.

Sanguines, Cholerics and Melancholies may all seem organized and neat.  Sanguines only appear to be organized and make sure everything is nice and tidy in appearance so that people will like them, be impressed and praise them for having their act together.  Cholerics are organized mostly for efficiency.  Remember, cholerics do not like to waste time by having to hunt for things that are necessary for production.  Melancholies are organized and neat regardless of whether or not they believe anyone will ever see it.  Their desire is perfection. If phlegmatics are organized and neat it is because someone is on their case about it and they are trying to avoid further conflict or because someone has stepped in and cleaned out their closet on their behalf.

This list does not exhaust every area that we may have in common with another personality type, but I hope you can see how we are often the same, but for different reasons.  To effectively apply the personalities to your relationships, you must look beyond the behavior to the motive.

The FABRIC of Family

Monday night I had the fun opportunity to speak at a Mother/Daughter banquet in my hometown.  Hometown speaking gigs are intimidating to say the least!  I’m happy to have made it through.  The theme of the night was family and since today is Mother’s Day, family life is heavy on my heart.  Here are the six things I introduced to weave or thread into the F.A.B.R.I.C. of your family.

F – a Firm Foundation

If there is one thing I can be certain about in this life it is this: things change.  The world is moving at a fast pace.  Ideas, research, and theories seem to shift like the sand along the seashore.  One phone call could literally change my  life as I know it. Any day, anytime, everything can change.   What can we trust?  Is there anything solid to hold on to?

In the book of Matthew, Jesus spoke about people who live their lives based on His teachings.  He compared them to a wise man who built his house on a rock.  Though strong winds, heavy rain and flooding would come, the house built on the rock would stand.  Jesus promised.  (Matthew 7:24-25)

Is your house built on a firm foundation?  There is one thing I have found I can count on, now and forever.  One thing that is not subject to the restraints of time nor the decisions of man.  I find great comfort, confidence and security in knowing that the nature and character of God has not and will not change.  God is unique to that truth.  Because I can trust His unchanging character, I can build my life according to His ways, His design and His plans.

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must build our house on a firm foundation.

A- Attitude of Gratitude

Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without complaining and disputing,”  Really, ALL things?  Without complaining.  What a challenge.  Here is a great quote by Charles Swindoll I heard years ago.  This quote was the core of one of the first speeches I ever gave in high school.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.

As my mother says, “Be thankful for every normal day.”

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must have an attitude of gratitude.

B – Bond of Peace

We have all been hurt by our family.  Somewhere along the line, in some way, whether by something done physically or something said, no one goes through family-life pain free.  No one.  However, if we want to keep our families together, happy and productive, we must forgive.  Let it go already.  Have the talk.  Send the e-mail.  Get it on the table — if necessary — and let it go.  Romans says, “if possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

The best way to learn how to forgive is to make a list of all the mean, hateful, selfish, prideful and wrong things you’ve done and been forgiven for.  When you see the grace that has covered you, it becomes much easier to forgive others.  I am so thankful that a perfect and holy God extends His grace to me.  Who am I to withhold forgiveness from another?

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must desire a bond of peace.  We must forgive.

R – Respect for Differences

Aren’t you glad we are not all the same?  If my husband and I were just alike, one of us would be useless.  God is so creative.  I admire His artistry as I look at the people in my life.  All of us are unique and made for purpose.  Rather than assuming differences are flaws, we should respect and admire what makes us different.  In Proverbs, there is a famous verse that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not depart from it.”  For years I thought the core intent of the verse was teaching us to train up a child in THE WAY.  I agree that is a solid plan.  I will do that.  But, actually, with a bit more research and learning, I have found that the intended emphasis is on the word he.  “Train up a child in the way he should go.”  Interesting.  We should raise our children in keeping with who they are and who they were created to be.  Of course, they should live within the bounds of right and wrong, and it is our job as parents to teach them the boundaries; but in terms of their personality and interests and passions, we should support and encourage them to go their way.

I am so thankful for parents who got this right three kids in a row.

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must respect and even admire our differences.

I – In Tune with THE Mission

The mission that matters is simple; know God and make Him famous.  Life is short.  It really is like a vapor or a flower that blooms and then withers away.  Much of what we do day in and day out is in vain and is temporary.  The entire Bible is about God’s desire to have a relationship with mankind.  He wants to be known by us, now and for eternity.  Unfortunately, we are usually in the way of that relationship or distracted by our relationship with this world.   I want my family to be on mission with God through Jesus Christ to introduce the world to Him.  I want us to be a part of His team.  Not team members wearing jerseys and sitting in the stands, but team members on the field and in the game.  Why?  Because in the end, God’s team will win.

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must be in tune with THE mission.

C – Commitment to the Cost

Commitment is a thread that has been unraveled in our society.  We scoff at the thought.  We are so conditioned to freedom, convenience, flexibility and disappointment, that we struggle with commitment.  I want my family to be committed to truth, to the mission, to God and to each other.  Just because something is hard, does not mean it must be wrong.  We will not walk away just because we are uncomfortable, inconvenienced, unappreciated or misunderstood.  Commitment is hard.  Life is hard.  We must consider today what it will cost to be committed rather than waiting until things are a mess to figure it out.  I want to raise a family that will finish.

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must understand commitment and stand strong no matter the cost.

For those of you who come from or who are living in the midst of a family whose fabric has been unraveled, I have great news for you:

God can sew.No family is perfect.  Mine certainly is not!  But God uses imperfect people and messed up families all the time.  He is a master at healing hurts, correcting wrongs, putting people and families back together and working things together for our good and for His glory.

We are all a life in progress.