Dear Awesome Woman,
If a car with four people in it were to break down in Alaska, each one would pile out of the car and attempt to handle the situation differently. Person 1, though ignorant of the makings of a car, would open the hood and start to wiggle some wires. Person 2 would google the problem and try to gather all the information they could about the problem before taking action. Person 3 is a person who understands the inner workings of a car and have somewhat of an idea of what wires to wiggle when they open the hood. Person 4 would have Triple AAA as a contact and dial them up for assistance.
One problem, yet four different approaches to it.
These four different approaches are referred to as a person’s conative style or “typical action patterns” (Martha Beck, O, Oprah Magazine).
Conative styles are instinctual – meaning a person is born with these patterns. None are better or worse than each other, but when we understand what our conative approach to life is, we stop hitting our heads against the wall in comparing ourselves to others.
We stop beating ourselves up for not being as organized as person 4, not as handy as person 3, not as informative as person 2 and not as spontaneous as person 1.
Kathy Kolbe, the woman who discovered these action styles, labelled the four categories as Quick Start, Fact Finder, Implementor, and Follow-Through.
Each individual is a certain mixture of these, with one or two being the dominating action style.
It was a tremendous relief for me to find out that my conative style was Fact Finder/Follow Through. I knew that I approached things in life by asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of research. I like understanding issues and situations deeply and change in general is not something that I welcome.
Before I learned about the Kolbe theory, I thought that I behaved this way because of childhood issues of feeling unsafe with the unfamiliar. I kind of “pathologized” myself for approaching life this way.
I also compared myself to family members and friends who were the opposite. They dealt easily with change, jumped into new situations with a gusto and seemed extremely confident getting involved with things that they didn’t have the tiniest clue about.
When my friends compared themselves to me they thought something was wrong with them. They admired that I read so many books and dived so deep into a topic. They “pathologized” themselves as well when they didn’t do what I did.
Such a light came on for all of us when I shared with them information about conative styles. We stopped comparing ourselves to each other and instead embraced our learning style and began to understand our behavioral patterns.
I would love for everyone to experience this sense of relief for themselves.
See if you can identify which “action mode” you find dominant in your life.
Here are the 4 categories and a brief description:
Quick -Start – with this style, change is welcome. It is almost unbearable for things to remain the same. A Quick-Start may have many ideas looping in their head and start these as projects. They may then become bored with following up with them. Research is not as important as getting started with the project. Basically if the Quick Start mode is dominant for you, then you like diving right in. Also many Quick- Starts may be mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD, when it is actually their conative style that is driving their behavior.
Fact-Finder – with this dominant style, research and “fact finding” is most important. You ask a lot of questions and want to deeply understand a subject or project before beginning it. You may also have to set a deadline for yourself because as a Fact-Finder you may never feel you have enough information to either start or complete something.
Implementor – as a child, you couldn’t keep your hands off of things – everything needed to be touched and felt. Words don’t mean as much as concrete objects. As an adult, you may be an architect, builder or mechanic.
Follow-Through – if this is your dominant style, you love to set up systems. When I was on a coach call, a woman with a high Follow- Through number loved to organize her dirty silverware in the dishwasher basket. The spoons had their section, knives theirs and forks theirs. Schools were created by Follow-Throughs and serve this type of conative style best.
If you feel that you are more of a mix of these styles, then you are referred to as a “bridge.” This means that you are a great mediator between others because operating from any of these styles feels very comfortable to you.
Since these are inborn, instinctive styles, it is very painful to “force” oneself to operate in the world using a different one. Once I understood this, I embraced my Fact-Finder, Follow-Through behavior pattern and now work with it. Sometimes, I push myself to send out a newsletter before I feel quite ready to do so. I recognize that it’s more important that people have some information of what I’m trying to share than for me to keep gathering more and more facts. It’s a conscious effort on my part to tell myself “it’s enough.” For the Follow- Through part of me, I notice that I love developing my own systems when I learn something new.
In terms of my relationship with others, understanding the Kolbe styles helped me understand the way others operate. For example, I encouraged my Implementor son to become a mechanic and make engine tables. I also understood why the typical educational system was frustrating for him – schools are generally based in the Follow-Through system.
I’m patient with my Fact – Finder son when he asks a ton of questions about things. He is trying to get a deep understanding of things.
I understand that my Quick- Start husband can develop a website without reading a book – he just delves right in.
And for my Quick-Start friends, I share pieces of information from the books I’ve read rather than expecting them to read the books.
Martha Beck, the life coach who requires all her trainees to take the Kolbe test, shares a funny story. If a Quick Start and a Fact Finder went parachuting together, the Quick Start would jump from the plane without the parachute and the Fact Finder would have to be kicked out of the plane. My friend, a high Quick Start laughs with me about this and lovingly says that we would jump out together, holding hands.
And this is an example of how to embrace the pattern that is your dominating style and work together with others who operate differently.
Now, with some of this understanding, can you guess what the conative style is of each person piling out of the car in Alaska?
Feel free to email me at email@example.com with questions or go to Kolbe.com for more information.