Habits play an important role in our success. A habit is something we do without thinking. When you don’t have to think about something it allows your brain to have more space for other things. As a leader developing strong habits (think: communication, confidence, staying organized, etc.), you will create the time and energy you need to make important decisions, come up with new ideas or steer your chapter in a different direction.

Developing new habits or breaking old ones is not an easy task. Best-selling author Gretchen Rubin is fascinated by habit. Her personal research helped her discover that the true secret to forming habits is knowing how you personally respond to expectations. To help you figure this out Rubin has developed a quiz called The Four Tendencies. The quiz distinguishes how people respond to outer expectations such as a deadline or request from a supervisor and inner expectations such as a keeping a New Year’s resolution. At the end of the quiz participants are placed in one of four categories:

Upholders – Upholders accept rules and expectations from both the outside and the inside. Upholders meet deadlines, follow a doctor’s orders and also keep a New Year’s resolution or meet a personal goal.

Questioners – Questioners only like to meet expectations if they make sense. They prefer to use their own judgement to follow the rules. Essentially, they are willing to meet both internal and external expectations as long as they can see the benefit.

Rebels – Rebels reject all rules, from both inside and out. They don’t respond to control and will most likely do the opposite of what is asked or expected.

Obligers – Obligers happily meet expectations from an outside source, but can’t seem to meet expectations that are self-imposed. 

Rubin uses the following example:

An upholder stops at a stop sign at 3:00 a.m. in a small deserted town; so does an obliger. A questioner decides whether it’s safe to stop. A rebel rolls through the stop sign at 3:00 p.m. in traffic.

So how does knowing your tendency help create habits? Once you know your tendency you can use it to choose habit strategies that work best for you. For example, if an Obliger wants to make exercise a daily habit, meeting a friend at the gym creates an outside expectation they need to meet. A habit is an expectation we are setting for ourselves. In order to create new habits, it is important that we understand how we respond to those expectations.

Discover how you manage expectations and find out your tendency by clicking here