B-Type in an A-Type World

Henry David Thoreau said people love to chop wood.  I took that to mean, people love to be productive in the name of being productive. We value as a society in this day and age functional professions.  Professions that get shit done. It is rare that we value the Arts in the same way that we do production.

A great business leader is perceived as being more competent than a great Artist.  Is a great Musician lesser than a great Entrepreneur? Is a great Painter lesser than a great Engineer? When did we begin to value productivity over creativity? Isn’t it often great creativity that leads to increased productivity.  The greatest inventions, some of which have led to incredible leaps in production, were created because of thinkers. People who had great ideas. Many of which spent long arduous days, months, and years bringing those great ideas to fruition. Were they concerned with productivity?  Were they concerned with converting as many ideas as possible into products? Or, were they more concerned with perfecting an idea, spending time and thought honing that idea. Why do we overvalue Type A over Type B personalities? Creativity, artistry, craftsmanship, these things take time, and they are invaluable.  As with all things balance is key. Productivity and creativity are no exceptions.

Are Type A personalities superior to Type B personalities?  There are a lot of negative connotations associated with being Type B. People think that Type B’s don’t get things done.  The reality, Type B tend to work on things that excite them. Given the proper task, Type B individuals are extremely productive, though it may appear otherwise to a Type A.  Stereotypes aside, it’s hard to imagine a world without both types of personalities. Imagine a world where nothing gets done and it’s all creativity all the time. On the other hand, a world where everything gets done in a prompt manner, but void creativity. Neither scenario really works.  Another example of cooperation works better than isolation. A types need B types and vice versa. Einstein, Socrates, Darwin, Adam Smith, Duboise. These all represent incredibly creative theoretical personalities. As much as we would love to relate our modern day infatuation of Type A personalities to this group of people, it just doesn’t hold up. I don’t want to say that there are not thinkers who are doers, the two types are not mutually exclusive.  But, from my personal experience, people who are constantly doing are not lost in their thoughts, and those who are constantly lost in their thoughts are less outwardly productive.

It is all about widgets though right. I mean we absolutely want the widget to be sexy and functional.  Of utmost importance, however, is how fast can we make those widgets? How quickly can we ship them, and in the end how many can we sell?  The Capitalist Type A agenda. That is the American way, or at least has come to be. Don’t stop and think, do something, be productive. If you’re a politician don’t think what the long-term consequences are, do something to ensure your reelection.   If you’re a large corporation don’t think about the long-term impacts of your businesses actions, just get moving being profitable. Make your shareholders happy now. Our modern way of thinking has an aversion for slowing down and productive self-reflection.   Type B people slow down. But Type B people are bad, bad for business. Business is everything, productivity is everything, and A Types are everybody, or damn well should be.

Maybe we need more Type B people.  Maybe we need to slow down. Maybe productivity isn’t everything.  Is it possible that slowing down could help us to chart a more deliberate and sustainable course?  Should we be paying more attention and giving greater value to the Arts, Artists, and Creatives? Maybe what we lack isn’t more.  Are we are missing the journey with our preoccupation for excess? If there’s one thing that kills creativity, and the journey, and the innovation, and the navigational insights needed to direct us towards a better future, its speed.  Speed is the enemy of craftsmanship. Speed is the enemy of enlightenment. Speed is the enemy of legacy, and speed is most certainly the enemy of a prosperous humanity. Patience, insight, foresight, wisdom, rationale, friendship, family, trust.  These things are born out of time and duration.

Type B individuals help us to chart a course,  while Type A individuals help us physically navigate that said course.  With a Type B captaining the ship we will never reach our destination. With a Type A at the helm, the journey will be lost.  We must be co-captains, or the future of our humanity is doomed. Doomed to debate how to move forward without any advancement, or to end up at a questionable destination only to wonder how we ever ended up there.     

-A. Carroll

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