Are you a reluctant hero?
- Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content Creation, eRep, Inc.
- Monday, August 29, 2022
Have you ever excelled at something that never came easy to you? Perhaps you found yourself needing to accomplish something against your best judgment, or needed to obtain a skill that wasn't your passion. You might be a reluctant hero.
Much of life falls short of being 100% our preference. There are countless little things we do on any given day that we'd rather let someone else tackle.
The Twitter pundits and Instagram influencers remind us to live our life willfully and on our terms. How realistic is that, though?
From an early age, we are taught that having a good work ethic is valuable. We are rewarded for hard work and perseverance and praised for our grit and tenacity. Overcoming obstacles is what sets us apart from the lazy horde at our back as we move glamorously forward to greatness. You can imagine the perfectly lit photo shoot, our skin perfect and our clothes and hair trailblazing a stylish trend when we humble-brag on LinkedIn about how balanced and perfect our life has become now that we achieved greatness in something that was really, really hard to do.
Okay, let's get back to reality.
From the moment you woke up this morning, it's unlikely that much of your day's to-do list is purely by choice and totally in line with your true and natural self. Most of what you need to accomplish is likely mundane or tedious or something you'd prefer to postpone or hand off to someone else entirely.
I've described it as going through the day wearing someone else's clothes. The pants are the right waist size and inseam but they just don't feel right.
You are a reluctant hero.
You get things done because they need to be done. You accomplish tasks that need to be accomplished because that's just what modern life requires; it imposes upon us things we must do whether we like it or not. The universe doesn't care what you prefer or what objectives would be natural for how you are hardwired. That report needs to be written by close-of-business today and your kids need to be picked up from school whether you like it or not.
So you do the things you need to do.
Think of the things you know how to do at work. What are some of the skills you've obtained over the past few years in your career? How many of them were deliberate and by your choice? Of those, how many are your passion? Odds are you have a few things you've become good at that weren't your first choice when asked as a kid, "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
Those skills you worked hard to achieve that aren't aligned with your passion are what make you a reluctant hero.
One of the things we learn as we transition from youth into adulthood is the awareness that we must do many things we don't like. We grit our teeth and get through it and do the best we can, even if doing so feels like we're wearing someone else's clothes.
Are there any life hacks or tricks to make this reluctant hero thing a little easier?
How can you get those daily reports written with a little less loathing?
Start with the understanding and acceptance that you cannot change your hardwiring. Your psychometric profile is fixed. Those spots have gone through the wash and aren't going to change colors.
You are you, and you will always be you.
If you can't change your psychological hardwiring, and it's not feasible to get a different to-do list, is blanket acceptance the only hand you can play? Not entirely.
If you have already taken the Core Values Index™ psychometric assessment, you will know what your primary and secondary core value energies are.
→ If you haven't taken the CVI, hop over to erep.com/core-values-index/ and complete your assessment. It only takes 8 minutes.
Each of the four core value energies represent a particular way of looking at the world. Those energies indicate how you approach tasks and the kind of tasks that you enjoy most. What does your profile say about how to tackle things that aren't aligned with your innate, unchanging nature?
If your primary core value energy is Builder, you are driven to get things done. You like that sense of accomplishment when you mark a task as completed. You have less patience than the other core value energies, and prefer reaching the destination over the journey itself. Acknowledge this about yourself. If you are faced with a long, tedious road ahead to reach your goals, break it up into smaller chunks. Identify individual objectives that you can check off your list as you keep moving the ball down the field. Give yourself those little wins along the way.
Those with Merchant energy as their primary core value are great starters but don't worry as much about finishing as Builders do. They get energetic about starting the journey and love motivating others in their excitement. Any journey that requires them to travel solo, however, will quickly drain a Merchant's enthusiasm. Recognizing this, do what you can to bring others along and make it a group effort. Bring some Builders along, too, and rely on their drive to reach the finish line to keep you on track.
Folks with Innovator as their top core value energy love to solve problems, but a characteristic of their drive to find the solution is their passion to find the perfect solution. This can delay their ability to cross the finish line until they feel the effort has been good enough. "It's not quite ready yet," is something many Innovators have spoken about their projects. Innovators can achieve great things, but they need to see the challenge in the effort. If they're being asked to invent a wheel that's already been perfected — a problem that already has a solution — they'll get bored real quick. Distractions will be everywhere. Recognize that about yourself and if the solution already exists, find a more efficient way to produce it (a juicy problem to solve!) Rely on Merchants to help with initial motivation, and lean on your Builder co-workers to identify when "it's good enough."
Bankers are all about gathering data and information but have every little innate drive to start like Merchants or passion to finish like Builders. A Banker's superpower, however, is following processes and procedures to the letter and they excel at finding details. If you want to build and launch your own version of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Bankers on your team will ensure no detail is left unverified and checked and validated. When a Banker must find the initiative to get something started, or muster the will to move things forward on a project, they'll do best by relying on a checklist. They won't enjoy creating the checklist — their Innovator and Builder colleagues can help with that — but they'll follow the steps to the letter.
You are a reluctant hero, doing things that may not feel comfortable. Understanding how you are hardwired, accepting the way you operate in the universe, and playing to your strengths will help you get things done. And hopefully you'll find your own pants along the way.
Core Values Index™ and CVI™ are trademarks of Taylor Protocols, Inc.
Go to eRep.com/core-values-index/ to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content Creation, eRep, Inc.
Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (ruckerworks.com), and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.
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