Sunday, May 22, 2016

Personality Type and Pressure

Today is my husband's last day working for Walmart, and hooray and booyah and yippee for that.

Seriously, it's been bad. After working for the company for seven years, the last five years as an assistant manager, last month he was put on a schedule of 1pm to 1am every(!) Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, indefinitely. Then asked to work various Mondays and Wednesdays as well. Tuesdays were all his except for the dozen or two texts he needed to respond to. 

And his schedule was only his fourth-worst work problem. So yeah, moving on. Even a Type A employee has his or her limits.

But the busyness of his job is something he'll miss. His current store does $60 million a year and Mark was often the only manager in the building. That broke down to 30k an hour in sales on some weekends, which is a flipping crazy amount of business. I went there once (the store is in South Norwalk, CT) and could not get down the front end of the store because 20 registers were all going with 8-10 people in each line. Cars and taxis were out front blocking the fire lanes, kids were running through the place shrieking, overhead announcements called for cleanups and fitting room keys and Assistant Manager Mark every half minute or so. I'd brought him lunch and he opened it mid-aisle, grabbed a piece of fruit saying that's all he'd have time for until things died down in 6-8 hours. 

from Backdrop Fantastic
Your basic circus, one he liked being ringmaster of, much of the time (see my prior post "Ode to my Walmart Assistant Manager at Christmas")

So when interviewing for new jobs and the question came up about "How do you handle pressure in a work situation" he smiled and said "when the walls all collapse, I'm the last man standing, organizing the cleanup crew and getting things back on track." 

This is a guy who feels pressure as the wind at his back, pushing him forward. 

The "Type A" personality  was originally described more than 50 years ago as the workaholic who
from "16 Tips for Dating a Type A Personality"
developed coronary heart disease at a rate double more laid-back ("Type B") peers. And indeed Mark had heart surgery last year, though it was a valve rather than CHD more typically related to stress. But more recent research has found that when taught (and using) stress management skills (like these) Type A's are just as happy as those more Type B.

Sure, a lot of stress management skills for Type A's are basic Type B go-to's (live in the moment, feel the joy, life is good) but iType A's give them a new twist, making their innate conscientiousness a sane and passionate pursuit of excellence rather than a mindless ambition for "more." Over time (and with effort), self-awareness and maturity build more "positive" Type A traits over negative into a high level of life satisfaction.

Positive Type A Traits
Negative Type A Traits
·       Focus
·       Impatience
·       Drive
·       Frustration
·       Extroversion
·       Perfectionism
·       Leadership
·       Demanding
·       Goal-orientation
·       Dismissive
·       Self-discipline
·       Short-tempered

Because who doesn't want to be the master of their own universe?
As long as you have the occasional weekend off to enjoy the view from the mountain top :).

Buy link and blog for this adorable new book
(that REI should stock :))
So the great and funny irony is that Mark's new job is with REI, an absolute bastion of Type B people. The manager who's been most involved in his hiring has been touching base every few days to remind him how "super happy" they all were to have him joining their team and how they chose his start date on a day they could have a group "welcome" and give him the "true REI experience" of putting people first and getting them outdoors to love life.

"Super happy?" he finally said after she'd repeated the phrase on each call.

"I'm going to have to stop saying that to you, aren't I?" she said.

He smiled and said no, he'd find a way to adapt to positivity.

Because Type B people are mostly impervious to pressure and generally super happy. If Type A folks want the wind behind them to double their speed (and Type D people feel it as a headwind getting them stuck), Type B people feel the crosswind, might lick and stick up a finger to note the direction out of curiosity, but they don't change course based on external pressure. They are who they are, they do what they do, and they note with amusement all the scurrying others do to get somewhere else when the way to enjoy life is to be happy right where you are.

And they're right.

So are Type A's who methodically pursue their dreams in steadfast, persistent, gritty (see Angela Duckworth article here) and undeterred fashion.

Because wherever they are on their goal-driven path is exactly where they want to be too :).

Love, Lisa


  1. How about us "Type B.5's"...those of us that find life moving at a happy pace..until our "Type A" partners kick us in the rear up a notch!! Empathy?? :)

    1. Jason,

      I saw a tweet about AB Personality and I thought it meant a combo but when I dug around and found the article it referred to it was about blood types. A lot of credence is given to their impact on personality, especially in Japan, South Korea, etc.

      Separate issue :).

      But there's a funny blog about an X personality (for a cross between both, technically AX-BX) here ( and a test that can show if you're a mix of both here (just hit cancel when you get the box):

      I was a 175 on it, which sounds like it's near the middle of a scale that goes 35 to 350. But the way it's described in the blog is less of a "some of each, or both in small measure" and more of a variable personality (i.e. Type B until I get motivated by some external force but I can't keep it up, I'm built like Ferdinand to smell the daisies).

      But as it turns out, only cynicism is related to increased heart disease risk, so Type A's should feel free to push their Type B partners to make a plan and Type B's should feel free to push their Type A partners to chuck same.

      There's a blog about this too, that goes with the illustration above. It has an annoying format but a lot of good points:

      And this one's a little less upbeat and rosy but also true:

      From my answer (and experience) I'm sure you can tell I'm a recovering A. An A trying to be a B. And kind of failing, but isn't the win in the journey? It's one most A's don't bother to attempt :)L