Does your personality type help you get shit done?

Does Your Personality Help You Get Shit Done?

They say there are two types of people in this world… those who divide the world into types of people, and those who don’t.

Gretchen Rubin falls into the first group and she’s been giving a lot of thought lately to how we think about rules.

As such, she’s divided the world neatly into 4 types based on how we feel about rules: Upholders, Questioners, Rebels, and Obligers.

Gretchen Rubin's Personality Types
The world according to Gretchen Rubin

Self-awareness being a good thing, I thought I’d share and think about how these types effect our ability to get shit done.


Upholders are people who respond to rules – both external rules (laws, deadlines, requests from others…) and internal rules like New Year’s resolutions and working on personal projects.

Upholders are incredible self-starters. They’re motivated by fulfillment and love checking things off lists.

These people Get Shit Done. Gretchen herself is a great example. She wanted to be happier so she mapped out habits that would make her happier and spent an entire year sticking to them. I could only dream of such a thing… imagine how much you could accomplish!

But I also wonder… how do you know you’re working on the right things? Instead of just getting lost in regulations and other people’s biddings? Gretchen says Upholders can become so fearful of making mistakes and letting people (themselves included) down that they can be incredibly rigid and constrained. Even paranoid (which, of course, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Oh, wait.).

So, I’m thinking not your quintessential entrepreneur who embraces risk and failure… but definitely a good get shit doner.


I like these people. Questioners question All the rules. I’m imagining them as the disrupters. Always asking why why why?

When a Questioner gets out of bed in the morning they don’t ask what am I supposed to do? They ask what needs to be done?

It’s not that they won’t follow rules. They will – but only when they feel the rules make sense.

They focus on getting the right shit done, and when they’re working on something they believe in, they’ll be incredibly present and intellectually engaged. Beautiful.

But then, there’s the dark side… Questioners can get paralyzed if they feel they need more information. This can be exhausting – not only to others but even to themselves (!) – why? why? why? At these times they’ll have a hard time just Doing it.

I feel like there must be a very difficult conflict between wanting to disrupt, to find a better way to do something, and moving forward with the incredibly limited information one would have when trying to do something brand new.


David Bowie
“Rebel rebel, how could they know?”
David Bowie (Photo Credit: Barry Schultz)

Rebels pretty much resist all rules. It’s kind of a wonder we get any shit done at all, really.

We basically do what we want to do and to hell with anything else. Although Gretchen says there are ways to trick us. Most especially if you tell us that we can’t do something – then we’ll go through hell & high water to prove you wrong. Yep yep, that psychology you use on 5 year olds… works on us too.

Rebels are motivated by present desire, we do what we want to do. If you tell us to do something, we’ll want to do the exact opposite. It’s not about being difficult so much, it’s about choosing to act from a sense of freedom.

We do have some positives though. We’re not constrained by things that hold others back. We can think in that outside the box way and do things that others wouldn’t even dream of doing.

And we are incredibly present and engaged in whatever we do because we’re doing what we want to do.

I think maybe rebels are the quintessential entrepreneurs. But… hopefully we’ve got some of the other folks to help us or surely we’ll never manage to get all the things done that need doing.


Finally, the Obligers are those who respond quite well to external rules, but are horrible at internal rules like new year’s resolutions or working on personal projects.

Obligers are motivated by external accountability so they will seriously get shit done. But… only if someone else has asked them to do it. And they HATE letting others down.

They’re incredibly easy to work with (well, duh!) but can become very frustrated with themselves and are quite susceptible to burnout.

The rebel in me wants to go save these people and tell them it’s OK to do something for yourself! The world will love you for it!!

(and then, maybe just a little bit, have them help me get some shit done that I really don’t want to do)


5 responses to “Does Your Personality Help You Get Shit Done?”

  1. The graph needs some circles intersecting types. I am a mutant within upholders, questioners and rebels, balanced towards rebels.

  2. Minglorious Avatar

    I see no date so perhaps this has been written in 1941 and the author died already. But omg, I feel like I’ve met a soul mate for the first time in my life. No shit.

    1. I don’t think I started this blog until 1942….

      1. Minglorious Avatar

        I had a feeling I had it slightly wrong!!! Quite close though! I gotta start trusting my guts a little more

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