“There are those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who say what happened?”
~ Robert T. Kiyosaki
On life’s journey you will meet many different personalities along the way. There are the friendly folk, the “go getters,” the hard nose stubborn sort, the fearful, the cautious observers and the ones who look at life as a great adventure that they will live to the fullest. Some people are easier to deal with than others, but recognizing how these personality types operate can assist us immensely in having more successful communication and relationships.
Years ago when I was leading many support groups, I wanted to come up with an engaging way to discuss different types of personalities with my clients. I recalled a creative lesson using potatoes to talk about different types of people that I had heard in Sunday school when I was a little girl. I revived this idea and added my own creative flair. I challenged my clients to think openly about each I discussed. I encouraged them to speak honestly about to whom they felt the strongest connections. I implored them to think about who sounded “just like them.“ With this is mind the infamous Tater Family was brought to life. I imagined them very much like Mr. Potato Head style characters, and each had a personality all his or her own. By introducing these characters one by one, we would launch an interesting discussion about different people in each of these categories and evaluate where each of us needed to work in areas of self improvement. It is with pleasure and great pride that I now share The Tater Family with you, starting with Dick.
Dick Tater (dictator) was a crusty old tater, with an intimidating presence. He ruled his household and workplace with an iron fist. Rules enforced by Dick Tater were meant to be followed without question. Dick Tater was the authority on anything and everything regardless of his amount of knowledge or lack thereof. People were uncomfortable around him and did what he said out of pure fear, not respect. Around him they felt very "mashed" and sadly reduced to tater tot status. Dick Tater had often held leadership positions but somehow never was able to really rally his troops and increase staff morale. He wondered why his family and staff seemed discouraged, almost beaten down when he was around. As he peppered out demands, he would insist that he had their best interests at heart and his stern methods of communications were for their own good, yet his technique was ineffective. Everyone around him was deemed the issue and it was his mission to whip these pathetic losers into shape. Much to his dismay Dick Tater could never understand why he sat alone at the lunch table or was avoided in the social circles. Underneath his very rough exterior was someone who really needed others, yet he just couldn’t admit it. When I think of Dick Tater as a father I think of Captain Von Trapp from The Sound of Music blowing his whistle and expecting his family to drop everything and come running. They came running in body, but their hearts were elsewhere I am sure.
Next was Hesi Tater (hesitator). Hesi Tater was a sweet old soul who had so many dreams and goals for herself, yet unfortunately she was truly her own worst enemy. When it came to making any positive life changes, she was always on the fence. She wanted to improve her life but what if she failed? She wanted to get out and meet people, but taking risks was so scary for Hesi Tater. Her fear and concern kept her stuck as if she was in cement shoes. She was filled with regret over all the opportunities she had missed, yet couldn’t seem to bring herself to the point of taking that risk. No one really knew what she was truly capable of because she never showed it. Her nervousness kept her immobilized. Hesi Tater always thought there was someone more qualified and suitable for every task that came across her path. Stepping out of her comfort zone was just too scary, so instead she just fretted and stewed about every life decision big and small. Her brain felt "fried" from all the intense worrying. I have met many hesitators. Hesitating on big decisions is actually quite wise, yet when it becomes a habit and it results in a person missing out on every wonderful opportunity that God has sent him or her, it is really problematic.
Now meet Spec Tater (spectator), a passionate audience member who preferred to be "roasted" in the sun. He was always in the stands faithfully cheering for the team, yet refused to get involved. When offered a place on the team he immediately declined yet offered up suggestions for people who were much more suitable, and qualified. His complacency was allowing him to literally watch his life go by and it was painful to witness. He observed what successful people were doing but did nothing to implement that into his own life. Life is not a spectator sport. Life demands that we jump in with both feet and take a leap of faith. Sometimes we win and sometime we lose but we will never know if we just stay in the bleachers. When my daughter was younger she was deathly afraid of swimming pools and swimming. We would take her in the pool with us and she would practically cut off our air supply squeezing our necks so hard in fear. It did not take a rocket scientist to realize that this kid desperately needed swimming lessons. So we did what any good parent would do and we enrolled her and her brother in swimming lessons. For weeks we talked of how fun it would be and really tried to motivate and convince Shannon. Shannon however was not buying it. For the entire swimming lessons session, she put on her bathing suit and sat on the stairs. When it came to the course completion, the lifeguards who had been so kind to her said to us apologetically that they were sorry that they couldn’t pass her in her lessons. We understood, and were very grateful for the small gains she had made of actually getting in the water. Shannon did not learn to swim just by watching, but the next session she did because she got in the water. She would never have known what she was truly capable of had she never taken the risk of getting off the stairs. Many of us are like that too. We need to stop observing and start doing!
Finally is Imi Tater (imitator). She is and was the ray of hope, the "fully loaded," superstar in this strange cast of characters. Imi Tater had gone through a rough “patch” of imitating the wrong crowd but had really turned her life around and was now a shining example for many! She had every self help book known to man on her bedside table. She watched and learned from successful people. She walked alongside them and implored them for wisdom. Openly she shared her story and struggles with candid honesty and sought wise counsel about what to do about her difficult problems. She attended church faithfully and read her Bible daily. She believed that the source of all wisdom and strength was our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ and she made it her mission to be an imitator of Him. When faced with a dilemma, she would ask herself “what would Jesus do?” This always helped her make the right choice, because she had learned the secret of what the Bible says that if any person lacks wisdom he or she should ask God, and that “in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.“ People couldn’t help commend her for her changes. She turned her life around with God by her side, hard work, wise counsel, and committed people in her corner.
So which tater sounds the most like you? Perhaps we see ourselves at different times relating to each one of them. I was a hesitator in many areas of my life in the past. I allowed fear and insecurities to keep me stuck, but I am so happy that I have really grown in that area. The good news is all the personalities have some good qualities too if they are channeled appropriately. Another piece of great advice is it is never too late to make a fresh start. I think of Ebenezer Scrooge in a Christmas Carol and how one crazy eventful evening changed an evil dictator into a kind and compassionate imitator of kindness of love. Change is possible and so exciting to witness. When I would hear my clients' testimonies about how they had changed their lives with God’s help and positive life steps it was so emotional and powerful.
Life’s too short to be a dictator, hesitator or spectator. Be an imitator of Christ and all those in life who hold the secrets to being successful. You are amazing and very capable of change. A whole world awaits you so get rid of that frown, stop worrying and fretting about what could go wrong, come down off the bleachers and really get into life as an active participant. There is a whole wonderful world out there just waiting for you that has been waiting far too long to get to know the real you. Don’t you think it’s about time?
Until next time,
Ephesians 5: 1-2 : Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us…
Little Lesson Learned: Don’t let others “dictate” to you what your life should be. Without “hesitation,” stop being a “spectator” and instead “imitate” the behaviour of those who have the right answers to life’s most difficult problems!
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014