(a) + (b) = (c)haos

What do you think?

Or rather- how do you think?

The "Type A" and "Type B" personality theory has its origins in the medical field. Specifically, when doctors in the 1950's were trying to describe a pattern of behaviors that were once considered to be a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Since then it's been rethought on that level, and then utilized in every field from marketing to team leadership. In all that tweaking, some categorizations remain that are often used to sum up personalities.

The premise is that "Type A" people mixed with "Type B" people will either become a beautiful thing, or quite chaotic.

"Type A" individuals are often described as list-makers. They "get stuff done" because "stuff needs to get done." Without them, we would have inefficient productivity in business, piles of stuff all around the home, and would never have what we need on trips or emergencies (because they think ahead and keep things stocked). Type A folks keep appointments, can effectively juggle many things at once, can be a dependable "go to" person for big and small matters, and make sure we know how our choices affect the way things are/aren't running.

Some hurdles they face include a temptation to be quite competitive, a struggle to relax when there is work to do, an insensitivity to others, and an excessive awareness of time. A high "Type A" can also become a workaholic who drives themselves to meet deadlines they don't need to meet (but believe they do), causing unnecessary stress for themselves and those around them.

Some Type-A identifier questions:
Am I often wondering, "Should I answer that phone call?"
Can I turn anything into a competition?
Is being seen as a success by other important to me?
Do I get frustrated when people don't do things the "right" way?
When I take part in something, do I find myself counting numbers to see if it was successful?
Am I often looking for the next hill to take?
In contrast, a "Type B" person can often be described as "value-driven." This means they will put the "concept" ahead of the "to do" list, be it making relationships more important than the task, or the integrity of the process over producing a finished product on time. Without them, we wouldn't have the level of art (songs, poems, paintings, etc) in our world for they truly do slow down and perceive life with a unique sensitivity. They also help us value people over things, let loose when we're wound up too tight, and can get a party started and keep it fun for most anyone.

Some obstacles they need to overcome include being too relaxed to be productive, being overly sensitive about others' comments, not wanting to be labeled under any circumstance, and being aloof about permanently correcting behavior that drives others crazy.

Some Type-B identifier questions:

Am I okay with others looking smarter than me?
Do I tend to fly more by the seat of my pants than make formal plans?
Have I found that relaxing comes pretty easy to me?
Do I seem to never have enough time to accomplish my goals?
Am I happy to enjoy the hill I'm on (with as many friends as possible)?
Our nature is to want to be the best of both and never confess the weaknesses of either, but the truth is that you are probably more one of these than you are the other.

In my case, I am a natural Type-B person but a learned Type-A, mainly because I have learned much about God, leadership, and life in Type-A environments. So at times I find myself multi-tasking like a Type-A because "stuff needs to get done," but I am quite careful be sure that the work of God I'm doing does not destroy the work of God in me.

How do you fare on this? If you aren't sure, consider this survey:

The reason I ask is because you may not be right or wrong in the environment you work, live, or play in... you may simply be different than those around you. Understanding those differences will help bring about the best of both worlds instead of competing for control because one way is "right" over another.


  1. Yup - I'm a "b". I enjoy being in an "a" environment and have learned a ton by entering into those spaces. My wife is a very cool mix of a/b (in fact I think that may be her blood type now that I think about it). Yeah - environment - interesting word....because I spend a lot of time trying to create / nurture the right environment for people (including myself) to experience and be transformed by God. Looking forward to more of your thoughts...

  2. I'm glad you started this blog, as a type "B" I often get a little overwhelmed with trying to keep things somewhat structured and organized. I need to learn some type "A" techniques to balance my self out.

  3. David - our wives/family often provide an intriguing mirror for us. I know I am more who I am today because of that shaping than I often realize.

    Jack - I'm excited for this chance for us to help each other out.