Can Your Personality Type Succeed in Business?

Do you consistently meet your business and financial goals?  Or do you struggle to finish what you start and set out to accomplish?  If you have the best of intentions of staying on top of your finances, taxes, and business goals, but something always seem to come up, keep reading!

I learned that your personality type is the key to predicting success in business, and it comes down to one question:

“How do you respond to inner versus outer expectations?”

Do you have what it takes?


A few years ago, I had the privilege to see and listen to Gretchen Rubin, NY Times bestselling author of The Four Tendencies, share in a keynote that we all face two kinds of expectations:

  1. Outer expectations –what others (i.e. boss, client) place on us, like meeting a work deadline.
  2. Inner expectations – what we place on ourselves, like keeping a New Year’s resolution, starting a business, or writing a book/blog post (without external deadlines)

Gretchen Rubin was an amazing speaker.


Based on her research, Gretchen found that there are the four types of people in how they respond to expectations. As I was sitting there listening to her describe the four tendencies, I had a huge A-HA moment!  I finally understood why I’ve achieved certain business goals – wrote and published a book in less than six months – but can’t seem to finish that self-paced online course that I bought over four years ago, despite starting and re-starting multiple times.

Apparently, the best predictor for your success comes down to expectations.

Four Personality Types and How They Respond to Expectations:

  1. Upholder
    • Meets outer expectations
    • Meets inner expectations
    • Motto: “Discipline is my freedom”
  2. Obliger
    • Meets outer expectations
    • Resists inner expectations
    • Motto: “You can count on me, and I’m counting on you to count on me.”
  3. Questioner
    • Resists outer expectations
    • Meets inner expectation
    • Motto: “I’ll comply – if you convince me why.”
  4. Rebel
    • Resists outer expectations
    • Resists inner expectations
    • Motto: “You can’t make me, and neither can I.”

The key to getting things accomplished can be as simple as recognizing how you respond to both inner and outer (external) expectations.

Now that I know that I’m an Obliger, everything makes more sense to me.

Once you understand your tendency, you gain better insight to your behavior and can create the right framework that lets you to accomplish your goals to:

  • Make better decisions
  • Meet deadlines
  • Decrease stress and burnout
  • Work with others more effectively

The same goes for people in your life – clients, prospects, significant others, children – if you speak to them in the way that appeals to their personality type and tendency, you’ll get a lot more accomplished.

According to Gretchen’s research, the majority of people are Obligers (41%). They are the ones who made good employees, but often struggled when starting their own business because the external influences of a boss are no longer there. Next largest group is Questioners (24%), who will only do something if it makes sense to them. The smallest group are the Rebels (17%), who won’t do anything that they feel is demanded of them.  The Upholders (19%) will meet both inner and outer goals that are set.

I found this extremely interesting about Obligers and how they shift lines – depending whether they view their family and children as internal versus outer expectations, will determine if they allow client obligations overrule family responsibilities. How many of you have ever been told that you’re a workaholic or have felt disappointed that your spouse chose work over hanging out with you and the kids?  If this sounds like you, remember that the Obliger’s strength is that they feel a great obligation to meet other’s expectations.  Therefore, while balancing the need to be responsible, find ways to help Obligers create outside accountability to avoid overworking and getting burned out.

If you are an Obliger (or know someone who is) here are four solutions that will help you change your pattern and achieve the business and financial results you want:

Four Solutions to Achieving Your Personal and Business Goals

#1 – Get an Accountability Partner – this is the person who doesn’t let you make excuses. You meet on a regular basis, discuss business challenges and goals, and commit to getting things done by the next meeting.  When you have someone who is expecting you to make your commitments, you are more likely to finish because you don’t want to let the other person down.

#2 – Join a Mastermind Group – this is a group of highly motivated individuals who share common business goals, encouraging and sharing insights to help each other improve. Mastermind groups will meet regularly – weekly, monthly, daily, depending on what makes sense – and lean on each other to share advice and keep each other accountable. Essentially this is an accountability group.  These groups will often have fees or membership costs, but you can always try to form your own group.

  • I joined this membership group to help me get focused and accomplish tasks that I keep putting off: Marcey Rader’s Focus 90.  It may seem silly, but being on Zoom for 90 minutes (with other business owners working on their goals) has allowed me to complete tasks that have been on my To Do list for weeks!

#3 – Use Technology as Accountability Device – use embarrassing or other creative means to motivate you to get things done on-time or work quickly. For example, in Gretchen Rubin’s book, she shares how one Obliger uses HootSuite (a social media scheduler) to schedule and post an embarrassing Facebook post every morning at 8:00am unless she gets up ahead of time to disable it. Wow, talk about extreme, but whatever works…right??

  • Another example of a technology that will help you with brain dump of information and get over your writer’s block, especially for blog posts or a book, is a web-based tool that a colleague shared with me called The Most Dangerous Writing App.  You choose how long you’d like to write for, and then you type non-stop until times up.  If you pause for even five seconds, the tool will wipe out EVERYTHING that you just typed!?!  Wow, talk about pressure.  However, if you work better under pressure, this may just be the tool for you.

#4 – Hire a Coach – last but not least, if you have a hard time committing to doing the business and financial tasks to make your business successful, exercising, or eating right, then working with a business or financial coach, personal trainer, and health coach can be worth the money to help you set concrete goals, meet deadlines, and have that person who looks over your shoulder until you get the job done.

While understanding your type is important, if you want to work more effectively with people and get people do what you want, figure out what their tendencies are too.  This can apply to your spouses, kids, coworkers, clients, and employees.  The Four Tendencies framework is a great starting point to making subtle changes in your choice of words and actions when working with others, resulting in increased productivity, better decision-making, less stress, heathier lifestyle, and achieving your goals when working with others.

If you want find out more and determine what your tendency is – Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or Rebel – read Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies book or take The Four Tendencies Quiz and learn how to use your strengths and weaknesses of your personality type to finally achieve the results that you want – in both your personal and business life.

What tendency are you?  Hit the button to post a comment – I’d love to hear how learning this has given you insight to your past behaviors…and what you need to do differently now that you know. 

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Thanks for sharing this! I think I’m an upholder, but I slip into questioner in certain situations and with certain outside expectations. Very interesting and helpful!

    I’m going to share this around.

    • Thanks for reading and sharing, Chad! I’m glad you found this helpful. Would love to hear updates on how knowing your type, as well as your clients and colleagues, has changed how you work with others.

  • I used to be an Upholder. Now I’m an Obliger. I want to understand why I made the unwanted change and how to go back to being an upholder. I love this. Thanks


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