Monday, March 28, 2011

Are You a Builder, Explorer, Negotiator or Director?

I get bored on vacations, unless I am someplace new and interesting.  A few weeks ago, off for spring break, some things got done around here, but then I stumbled on one of those dating articles that pop up beside Hotmail and decided I needed to know my type

There was a tantalizing description of each of the types in O Magazine (to see the article, click here) a while back, and I read it with interest, though it led me to believe I was, as I'd been tested in Myers-Briggs, a director.  These people are logical, forthright, detached.  The sort who pick up the red phone, issue an order, and don't look back. 

Then I watched an interview with Helen Fisher, who is the brains behind  She says that half of who we are walking around is based on our experiences, and that we adapt based on our circumstances.  But in the area of love, chemistry rules. It's based on our inherent traits, the ones we'd have, I surmise, if we didn't  find ourselves the head of a household or driving carpool or taking care of an ailing parent.  Turns out the kid in us picks the people we want to shag.  This, I have to say, does cause some trouble for a good many of us, but it explains a lot.

And yet the notion of discovering why I am attracted to certain personality types and not others was too enticing, especially on a Tuesday afternoon at three when I wasn't answering email or organizing a meeting or trying to track down a deal list.  So off I went to to take the test.  (Dr. Fisher is also an excellent marketer, I must say.)  And here is what I learned was a surprise. 

I knew I wasn't a Builder.  These are the people who keep institutions around for generations and stay married for life.  They don't mind living in the same city from cradle to grave and love that everyone knows their name and their business when they walk down the street. Also, they don't like it when someone moves their cheese.  They also have longer lives.  Did I mention they tend to stay married? 

And the Negotiator.  They have great compassion and love to talk to people.  This leads to rather boring conversations, if you pick the wrong person.  Yet if you find someone who has traveled the world or made a big pile of money and then found interesting ways to give it away, well, then, that's different.  Still, I've certainly met more than a few strangers.  And I run the other way. 

Spontaneous.  That's the first word associated iwth Explorers.  Well, I have a whole pile of crap to handle, and as much as I'd love to run off to Paris tomorrow, I'm thinking Child Protective Services, the people who pay my salary, and the bank might have a little issue with that.  There are also a lot of forms to fill out.

However.  Took the test, and it turns out I won't be Secretary of State any time soon.  I may not be able to charter a jet, but I am energetic, spontaenous, and always looking for something new.  This is true of my work (I always have a five-year plan, because if I don't know where I am going I get stuck and miserable) and of my reading, which has served as vicarious travel in the times of my life when I was sitting on the tundra and too young to flee and later when I was reading Moo, Baa, La La La and in love with my babies yet thought the walls might fall in at any moment. 

Explorers are the cowboys of the world: don't fence us in.  This is why I don't ride commuter trains or buy more than one session of yoga. We also find the idea of spending the rest of our lives doing anything, no matter how good, akin to beng assigned to a padded cell.  

Some of us are explorers dow well with builders, as long as they give us a very long leash.  I know an extraordinary woman in her sixties who makes documentaries in politically unstable countries; she is married to a former pastor who is equally fierce in his intelligence and conviction but is thrilled to see her off on her missions while he keeps the homefires burning.  But most explorers are looking foir playmates.  Not a great track record for long relationships, but we sure have good stories. 

Now I can name the restless feeling, the one that strikes me especially when I've had enough sleep and there is a little free time on my hands.  It's not competitive---I don't burn for a more prestigious job or a larger house--or guilt-inspired, though often it manifests as a sense of not getting enough done. Yhe hand against my back that's always been there, turns out to be push of time combined with the big world out there.  There is so much to see and do and eat and read.  There ae all those interesting people to meet, if I don't get stuck talking to the lady in the middle seat.  My constant worry is that  I've squandered my brief time on earth. 

It makes for one long Peggy Lee moment..."Is this all there is?  Then let's just keep dancing.."  Hope I can find a good partner. If not, someday I will charter that jet and look for one.


  1. Okay, I think I'm a builder--except for the part about staying married. But, oh yeah, I believe in chemistry. Logic goes out the window.
    I suspect you're not really as restless as you think but someday I have faith you'll do that exploring. Hope you find someone fun to do it with.

  2. Haha I took this test a while back too - I forgot my type though. What kind of person does taht make me?