{2019 review} The Four Tendencies workshops: the good, the bad, and the ugly

If you’ve been following me for a hot minute, you’ll know I’m obsessed by personality frameworks, in particular, The Four Tendencies.

After the book came out, I mentioned to my accountability partner, Beth, that if Gretchen ever offered workshop facilitation, I’d have to do it because I love the content so much.

Well, she offered workshop facilitation late last year and after dithering for a bit (would people want to come to workshops? would I be able to train enough people to recoup the costs?), I bit the bullet shortly after the new year when I remembered that my word for 2019 is BOLD.

And that’s when the fun started.

The good

I loved every single minute of teaching the material, interacting with my workshop participants and running the workshops. The a-ha moments, sharing the content, but most of all, the stuff you can’t really prepare for – the participants’ questions in the sessions and figuring out the answers; why a particular strategy works for A but not for B, how parents could do X differently with Y kind of child to ease their relationships, etc. I found that the Tendencies gives couples, sisters, and friends the language to explain things. It is the actual best!

I also had the privilege of running two corporate workshops (book me if you want me to do a half-day teambuilding event with a difference) which were truly fantastic. The teams were both so open and vulnerable and we all learnt a lot from each other.

As I am a systems person, I quickly honed my processes – I made lists in Excel of what needs to happen before a workshop, I know which food to buy and order, email the lady to print my handouts a week before and all the preparation is very streamlined.

A friend told me a few months ago that workshops are my sweet spot. It’s true – I get to play with stationery, faff in my house, interact with people, and train people on material that I love. Heaven!

The bad and the ugly

There is no bad or ugly but the parts I find most difficult are still the marketing and promotion pieces.

Each workshop got easier because I had so many more people who had gone through the material and experienced greater understanding and insights which, in turn, increased my confidence and credibility.

This was one of the easiest workshops to run – they booked me, and then I’d just see money popping up every couple of days in my bank account. I pitched, ran the thing and left 🙂

My word of the year was perfect for me because when I didn’t feel like promoting the workshops, I’d remember that my word was bold and put up one more Instagram post, and ask one more person.

I’ve always felt that as long as I have done everything possible, I don’t mind the outcome. So I felt absolute peace even about my smallest workshop – the one in Cape Town with 3 people – as I literally asked and told everyone I knew in Cape Town 🙂 And that workshop was fabulous – great participants, insights for all of us and more friends for me 🙂

Cape Town workshop

I also prayed at the start of the year – I think between workshop 1 and 2 – that the groups would consist of exactly who was supposed to be there, and they really have been that. We’ve had fantastic groups of people but I still feel very fond of the very first group who put their faith in me – thank you Teresa, Fatima, Cindy, Phetsile and Luisa!

In closing

I can’t wait to continue to offer these workshops next year. I’ve already scheduled the first one for Saturday, 8 February 2020, and I can’t wait to welcome you to my home if you know you want to be there. This is a really fun thing to put on your #20in2020 list. Book your place here.

One of my #20in2020 goals is to either run a Four Tendencies workshop or do a Four Tendencies talk for children! If you want your child to attend, please let me know.

Some interesting stats

  • Married couples: 2 pairs
  • Parent and child: 2 pairs
  • Friends: many, many, many
  • Sisters: 3 pairs
  • 1 supper club
  • 2 corporates
  • 8 workshops in total
Four Tendencies stats

Tell me all your questions. If I was reading this, I’d have plenty 🙂 Do you have any questions for me?

{2019 review} What went well in 2019?

I never used to like reflecting on anything really but it’s a part of my life I’ve really started to enjoy, not only having it done, but also the introspection part of it.

I particularly like monthly reflections, my birthday review and this, my annual review. I share that so that if you’re the same, you can take comfort from my initial discomfort and know that it’s a good thing to look back (however fleetingly!) and see how far you’ve come.

So, what went well this year?

Work rhythms

I’ve been in an excellent work rhythm for years now and I know how to manage the stressful parts of my job together with my personality. I do still have those moments because I’m human, but these days it takes me a day or two to get back to my preferred way of being rather than weeks like it used to.

A large part of this being on top of things is having my work from home day every week. There was a week recently where I had meetings the entire week and wasn’t able to work from home, and I could see how my deep work piled up.

My word of the year

I’ll talk properly about it in a post dedicated to the word, but I will say that BOLD has been an excellent and very timely word for me.

Book clubs and reading

I’ve always been a voracious reader and aside from a short reading slump this year (which I recognised because the same thing happened to me last year – could it be the time of year???), I’ve had a great reading year. Some months I abandoned all my rules and my sleep was interrupted as a result, but I read some great books, which I will also share in a separate post.

As for the book club, gosh, how I love my book club. We are in such a good place three years in. Dion suggested that it was because we are mainly obligers but actually we are the perfect ideal mix – 1 upholder, 1 rebel, 2 questioners and 4 obligers. We have good systems that work for proposing and veto-ing books, for hosting, etc. We’re reading good, discussable books and even if I don’t enjoy the book, I enjoy the discussion so much because I learn about the others’ points of view. It’s a truly life-giving intentional friend date that works really well and is still the highlight of my month.

This year, we also celebrated the first anniversary of Kids Book Club (such a creative name ;)). We are also in a good rhythm where this one is concerned. We have a core group of 3 sets of kids and another 2 sets of mostly regulars. I have a spreadsheet (of course!) for hosting so that we don’t always rely on the same people. The kids seem to like sharing their books because most of them want to go first and another mom, who was my kids’ amazing grade R teacher, came up with an excellent idea – first photos, then food 😉

Workshops

This year I ran 10 workshops with 75 people total: 8 Four Tendencies workshops, and 2 Five Love Languages workshops.

5 of those workshops were run at my home and 5 elsewhere: corporate offices, a hotel and someone’s home.

All were So Much Fun!

I can’t fully express how amazing it is to see people have realisations about their Tendencies and Love Languages right in front of me. It is amazing to have the privilege to be part of that and I can’t wait to welcome another 75 next year.

It would be remiss of me not to let you know that the first workshop date for next year has already been set: Saturday 8 Feb 2020. Mark your calendar, pay your deposit and come, let’s have some fun together.

One of my goals for next year is to run a Four Tendencies workshop for kids – I’m thinking April, so let me know if your want your schoolgoing child to attend. There will be student pricing available.

Friends

My scheduled friend dates are still working out well as is my friends spreadsheet. I got to see 3 Cape Town friends I’m not usually able to see on a Cape Town trip in October and it filled my love tank. I’m already on 90 friend connections for the year; could I make 100?

Workouts

I have a very regular habit going on of Zumba every Saturday, my Spanish dance class every Monday and Barre 180 on most Tuesdays. The Barre class is the one I’m most likely to miss if I need to, due to work, but still, I’ve already clocked 101 workouts, and hope to finish the year close to 120.

Sleep

My sleep has also been excellent this year. I will definitely end off higher than last year’s average of 7 hr 35 and am hoping for my best sleep year yet 🙂 Only I can get excited about that because my sleep used to be much less when I first started tracking it.

What went well for *you* this year?

{reflect} November…and how the Four Tendencies approach a monthly review

Just think about it – this is the last mini review of the month because the next monthly review is actually a big annual review. I can’t wait! If you’re not on my mailing list, make sure you’re on because I’m going to be sending out the 2020 goals planner during the first two weeks of December.

As I always say, even if you’re not the type of person who takes out a pen and bullet journal/ diary, I recommend you take 5 – 10 minutes just to think about how the month played out.

reflect

If December is generally busier for you as it is for most of us, feel free to start your annual review sooner.

Let’s talk about monthly reviews from each of the Four Tendencies’ viewpoints:

Upholder

Wants a clear framework of questions to reflect on and if built into their habits/ schedule, will go ahead and do the monthly review every month.

Obliger

Probably thinks it’s a good idea but won’t get to it every month unless a coach or friend holds them accountable. Obligers, consider me your friendly coach.

Questioner

Will review if they see the benefit for themselves and feels like the effort is worthwhile, but will not wait for the last or first day of the month.

Rebel

If the rebel feels inclined to do a review, will do it in the way, shape or form that they see fit, certainly not what I suggest in this post. It’s your choice, Rebels!

For those who would like some ideas of questions to ponder, here are some of my favourites:

  1. what went well this month?
  2. what did not go well?
  3. what energised me?
  4. what have I learned?
  5. how can I bring more fun into my life? or where do I need to be more serious?
  6. which projects do I need to let go?
  7. am I living out my word of the year? Do I already have an inkling for a word or theme of 2020?

Even if you just do the first 2 – 4, that’s a really good start to round off the month and step into the last month of the decade (!) on a good, solid note.

I don’t mind confessing that I’ve been reflecting on the year so that I have plenty of time, and so that it’s not all squeezed into the week after Christmas.

Do you do a monthly reflection? Did the Four Tendencies questions help you to understand yourself and those around you better?

PS The next Four Tendencies workshop will be held in Jhb on Saturday 8 Feb 2020. If you’re not local, I also do Four Tendencies coaching via Skype/ FaceTime.

5 things I’ve learnt in the first 6 months of 2019

  1. I really love going on holidays. As it stands, we’re only now on our second holiday of the year. Usually we’re on holiday for the first week of the year, and then again in April/ May. This year the school holidays didn’t work to our advantage so we stayed put, and I reallllllllly felt the pressure in May and June.

2. I’ve met my goal and run four Four Tendencies workshops so far this year. I always knew I loved running workshops because it brings together many loves of my life – teaching, people, connecting and connecting dots for others, organising and stationery 🙂 However, I had forgotten exactly how much I love running workshops. After every single workshop, I’ve been on such a high for the entire evening. My remaining two workshop dates are: 7 September for the Five Love Languages, and 2 November for the Four Tendencies. Take 10% off if you come to both workshops.

3. I’ve learned that boldness can increase the more you practise. My word of the year is BOLD because I suspected that if I wanted to run 5 workshops this year, I’d need boldness to put myself out there. Somewhere between workshop 3 and 4 I realised that I’m not scared to tell people about the workshops anymore. Not that I was scared, per se, but it felt a bit cringeworthy to put myself out there and say, “yes, come, you will benefit from doing this”. Honestly, a lot of it was reminding myself why I’m running these workshops. I actually sat with a journal and pen before workshop 3 and wrote down what people get from coming to the workshops. And then I think I spoke to people from a true place of wanting to help them. What is your word of the year, and how are you living it out this year?

4. I’ve also learned that I should definitely not tackle multiple house projects at the same time. In my defense, one went over by a month, one took two weeks longer than the other and the only one that worked exactly according to plan was the third one. Thank goodness those are all done, and now we save towards next year’s maintenance items. Isn’t it sad that house things are never done?!

5. My kids wrote their first set of exams just over a month ago. Well. As two upholder parents with questioner and rebel kids, I can say the entire experience has been a steep learning curve for all of us. We will definitely start setting clear expectations much earlier next time instead of leaving them to it for a few weeks by themselves. Upholders would take the exam timetable and work backwards and then diligently start studying; we’ve seen now that the other tendencies just don’t have that same way of responding to the expectation of studying. What’s your tendency, and how did you approach exams when you were at school or university?

What are some of the things you learned during the first half of 2019?

PS do you know, I’m still sometimes writing the year as 2018!

Update on The Four Tendencies workshops


Well, friends, I’ve now run 3 workshops and I’m enjoying them so much. My last workshop was a full one with 10 participants – 7 obligers, 1 questioner and 2 rebels. I also had my youngest participant who was only 19 years old. Don’t you wish you’d known at 19 what you know about yourself today?!

I’m also keeping a careful eye on the stats because so far, my stats are different to Gretchen’s survey. I wonder if that is due to the South African slant? 🙂 I have had way more than the 41% obligers but interestingly, my upholder % is far less.

As you know, one of my #19in2019 goals is to run 4 of these workshops, so that’s 75% done. 

Registration is now open for the next Jhb workshop on Saturday, 1 June. Check out the testimonials and reserve your place.

Use code FRIEND to get R50 off each of your tickets when you register two or more people. Bring a friend, spouse, sister, mom…

Here’s the link to read more to see if it’s something you’re interested in, and then to reserve your places. Space is limited to just 10 people, and this is the last in-person workshop this year – don’t miss out.

{living intentionally} Intentional friendship update, one year later


At our last book club lunch last year, one of the members said, “we all just want to connect with another human being”. So true.

For years I almost didn’t want to admit to myself that I actually wanted to have friendships because it seemed like no-one else was talking this way and it felt…too vulnerable.

But I’ve gotten over that and now I freely admit that I want, and need, good friendships.

I also used to bemoan the fact that the organising/ logistics to get together seemed to lie with me, but I’m also over that, due to two things:

  1. D told me I need only do what I’m comfortable doing. This might seem like an obvious thing to some of you but I’m an enneagram 1 (we feel like it’s our job in the world to fix anything that is broken) and an upholder (friendship is important to me therefore I need to put systems in my life to support that) so it has always felt like I was responsible for everything.
  2. I actually largely prefer to organise things because I feel in control of things more 😉

Last year I wrote about what I was doing to create intentional friendships in my life as an upholder, and how each of the other Four Tendencies types would do this too. You can read that post here.

To comment from an upholder perspective again, we work best with the strategies of scheduling, monitoring, clarity and pairing.

Clarity – I am clear on my comfort levels and how much I want to try to pursue/ “open the door” before calling it quits and letting things just flow. I’m also clear about what a life-giving friendship means to me.

Scheduling – this strategy has worked so beautifully over the last year. Our book club meets on the last Saturday of every month, and I have 5 standing friend dates every month. Of course this doesn’t work with everyone every month but it sort of evens out so that I have good 1:1 connection time with about 5 – 6 friends, because I also have some other friends who I have again scheduled once every 2 – 3 months. I realise this sounds terribly unspontaneous, but as Gretchen Rubin says, “something that can happen anytime often happens at no time”. Here’s where I “go with the flow”  – I let cancellations and such happen, and somehow at the end of the month, I find I’ve still had my 5 – 6 friend connections. It’s weird and wonderful all at the same time.

Monitoring – I still keep my friend spreadsheet and diligently update it at the end of every month, and then add friends to next month’s goals to keep it all ticking over. Try it, even if you don’t use an actual spreadsheet. You could have a list in your bullet journal with a date next to each friend’s name.

Pairing – I really only use pairing in a couple of instances. When I see clients in Pretoria, I always contact a Pretoria friend to see if she’s available to have lunch after my meeting. And I have a client in a part of Joburg whose offices are near another friend’s workplace. I always just reach out and ask if she’s available. What’s the worse that can happen? They’re busy but at least you’ve asked and they know you’ve reached out.

If you’d like to understand better how to harness your tendency with regards to your friendships, please join me for my next workshop, coach with me or take Gretchen’s deep dive course?

How are your friendships going? Are you happy with them?

The thing that delighted me most last year was this: I met a friend for lunch and she said, “let’s eat quickly. I know you like to walk and take pictures so I’ve planned a walk for us.” Well, that was just magnificent!

{2018 Annual review} What energised me in 2018?


  1. Zumba class every Saturday morning. I won’t lie and say my barre180 class energised me because often the only reason I dragged myself was that I knew missing it would mean I’d be so sore the next week.
  2. Kids book club. I wrote on Instagram recently that the best thing about kids’ book club is hearing these kids talk about books they love. It is the actual best.
  3. My book club. You know you should expect this of me so here goes: I keep a spreadsheet of the books we’ve read and the rating I’ve given each of those books. Last year’s average rating was higher (3.91) to this year’s rating (3.65) but this year was so energising for me due to the fantastic discussions. So even if I didn’t personally enjoy a book; I loved the discussions.
  4. My work relationships also energised me this year. Our team is in a good place where we’re all getting along well and enjoying working with one another.
  5. The Enneagram. I wrote about this earlier this year but I also took the personalised coaching and it was fabulous. I can now see when I’m in a good place by how I’m displaying the healthy parts of a 7, and how self-critical I become when I’m stressed.
  6. Walks in nature. I still hate being outside in summer but I have LOVED taking walks and chasing down beautiful things to capture in autumn and spring (jacaranda trees).
  7. Connecting with my friends. One of the best things I did as an upholder last year was to set up recurring friend dates.
  8. Last but not least, the Four Tendencies continue to energise and fascinate me. I will be running regular 4T workshops this year so put yourself on the list if you’re local. I have seen the benefit of knowing your tendency personally, and in my family, and also with clients and colleagues, and it has made my life so much easier with knowing how to approach someone and get my meaning across but also meet their needs. And best of all, I’ve successfully used the strategies for my tendency to create and build good habits 🙂

Bonus – I did a ton of decluttering and organising this year, both during Spring into Organising, and throughout the year. Getting things done always energises me and it’s been great.

What energised you in 2018?

What I learned through writing every day in November

Many of you know that I chat to Beth, my accountability partner and friend, every week.

On Thursday 1 November, I’d only completed my personal goals from the previous week and no blog goals, which all involved writing.

On a whim, I mentioned to Beth that I wondered if I could still actually write every day. And right there and then, I decided to try.

You see years ago, for five years in a row, I blogged 324 or more times every year. For two of those years, I blogged every single day.

Also, here on Organising Queen, I’ve twice participated in the 31 days series – once I wrote about easy organising solutions, and the other time I wrote about having enough time.

It is never hard for me to write, especially if I know what I want to write about, so I thought I’d give it a bash again.

So what did I do differently and what have I learned?

  1. I set two daily reminders in my phone – one at 6 pm and another from 8 – 8.30 to come write. The 6pm reminder was to start thinking about what I want to write about. And the 8pm reminder was to actually sit down and write.
  2. I used a habits page (I have no idea where I found it – I’d printed off a whole year long ago and not used all of the monthly pages) to cross off my progress daily. I also recorded my progress on my Instagram stories every 3 – 5 days, or thereabouts.
  3. I was conscious about my “difficult days” – weekends when I’m too relaxed, and Tuesday nights when I’m exhausted from my two dance classes, and so I made sure to have something easy to write about on those days. This was a great idea.
  4. I brainstormed some topics at the start of the month. I ended up with 17 topics but as is often the case, I’ve since deleted about 5 that sounded far too boring even to me, and added a couple of others. I scanned my book notes from recent non-fiction I’ve read to see if there was anything I really wanted to blog about.
  5. The point was just to write, not to create beautiful blog posts. Some nights I just wrote; most of them I also added photos and tags for a blog post. Having my standards low meant that I actually got things done instead of obsessing about perfection.

A few notes:

I’m an Upholder on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework so strategies that work REALLY well for me are clarity, scheduling, pairing and monitoring.

Clarity – I very clearly defined what “success” on this project would look like – actual writing on a keyboard for 15 minutes, and having my blog post ideas list

Scheduling – reminders in my phone

Pairing – I knew that at 6pm I’d be home from work but low energy, so the first reminder would go off while I was cooking or otherwise having a cup of tea with the kids (I could start thinking about my topic) and the second reminder was just after the kids went to bed (well, in theory)

Monitoring – I was checking off my list of blog post ideas as I completed writing, and also the occasional posting to Instagram stories, and my weekly accountability chat with Beth.

Any upholders out there? Did my approach resonate with you too?

How about the other tendencies? What would your approach have been for creating this new habit.

You can do the same for any habit you want to create either now or in the new year. I will help you clarify your tendency, and put structures in place during our coaching session.

Please contact me as soon as possible to schedule your coaching session as I only coach a limited number of sessions weekly.

Being intentional with friendship

What does intentional friendship mean to me?

It means being purposeful about cultivating relationship and connection with like-minded friends. It also means making time for friends even though it might not be convenient. Read half of my friendship manifesto here.

What does intentional friendship mean to you?

As an upholder, these are some of the things I do to be intentional with my friendships

  1. I decided what I needed to do to feel happy about seeing people enough, and once I had clarity, I got busy executing on it. I’m an extrovert and I want to have at least 4 friend dates a month, preferably 6.
  2. I schedule recurring friend dates to connect with some friends and I leave space to meet up with about 2 – 3 friends every month outside of those set times.
  3. I am the initiator about 90% of the time. I would prefer if that percentage was different but I’m looking on the bright side in that at least if I initiate, I actually get my extrovert fix in. I will say that I only initiate these days as much as I am comfortable. I have learnt over the last 2 – 3 years that I am enough and if I don’t feel like I’m getting any reciprocity, I won’t keep inviting.
  4. Monitoring my friend dates works for me. You can read more about my friend spreadsheet here. I’m sure it seems a bit over the top to some of you, but it really works for me, and helps me to be more intentional. Also, as an upholder, the strategy of monitoring realllllllly works for me.

Obligers

Here’s how you make yourself accountable to your friendship needs. Set up recurring friend dates (first Wed of every month, or last Saturday of every month) and you’ll naturally pitch up.

To prevent your boundaries being crossed, also decide what you want and don’t want from your friendships, e.g. since my budget is Rx per month, I can’t eat at restaurants with mains of more than Rx. Otherwise you’ll just say yes and feel resentful the entire time.

Yes, a friendship is give and take, but since obligers lean towards meeting other people’s expectations first, boundaries are definitely something to bear in mind.

Questioners

Questioners are the first ones to abandon friendships that no longer work for them. They don’t have problems hanging on like some of us …. but would always want to make sure that they’re in a specific friendship for the right reasons.

I know a questioner who is very specific about meet-ups. If people cancel on her at the last minute, she gives them one more chance and then stops initiating. I know another questioner who is also very clear that some friendships will probably not continue once circumstances change, e.g. work friendships.

Rebels

Rebels approach friendship according to their identity. If they think of themselves as someone who makes time for their friends, for example, then they will live up to that identity. if they’ve decided that they’re terrible at initiating, then they just won’t initiate.

As a rebel, consider defining your friendship identity. Or not 😉

If you’re friends to a rebel (I have two friends! possibly 3!), try not to box them in. They need their freedom!

And that’s it for now.

Tell me again, if I don’t know, what is your tendency?

How can you be more intentional with your friendships?

{Four Tendencies} Worth it even if just for this one insight

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) by [Rubin, Gretchen]

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Gretchen Rubin’s new book for months and months. Basically, I talk about the Four Tendencies to all my friends, colleagues and clients who are into these things.

And really, I bought and pre-ordered because I’m a fan, but also to understand those around me better. Since I’m an upholder, I thought I knew everything there was to know about being one.

But not!

First, an upholder is someone who readily meets both inner and outer expectations. They have no problems meeting work deadlines/ friend expectations (outer expectations) but they also have no trouble setting and achieving their own goals (inner expectations).

Right, this is me to a T.

 

I learned a ton from buying the book but today I want to talk about upholder tightening.

 

She had mentioned upholder tightening before on the Happier podcast but really delved into it in the book. In a nutshell, it means that upholders decide on their own expectations and get to it (no problem so far) and then, even if the thing no longer serves them, they keep on doing it even if there no longer is a reason to continue doing it.

I had some aha moments while reading that section and now, two months later, I can see this playing out in so many parts of my life.

I even told Dion (a fellow upholder) about upholder tightening and he told me how he definitely sees it in me when I keep flogging a dead horse 🙂

So where have I noticed this in my life?

At the start of this year, I decided to do my year of happy where I focussed on a specific theme for the month, and I’d blog the goals at the start and the feedback at the end.

The intention was to do this with other people joining in. Not one person did, so really at that point, I should have just said, “oh well, no-one’s interested, let’s move on”. But I didn’t.

I was happy enough to carry on for a few months, still hoping others would join in, but then it really got very boring for me.

But I pushed through every single month.

Upholder tightening!

On the bright side, the minute I read about it and recognised it in myself, I stopped.

The awareness gave me the permission to stop.

And so I did.

Isn’t that amazing?

I realise this is more amazing for me than for anyone else but of course I see it happening all over in my life.

Now I’m questioning (I lean towards Questioner) all the things that I decided I should do, that no longer feel right but I haven’t stopped doing yet.

I changed one other thing too.

But watch this space – one of my new goals is to evaluate basically everything in my life (aren’t I fun?!) and see if any of that upholder tightening shows up, and then stop it if it’s no longer serving me.

Are you an upholder? We’re the 2nd smallest group after Rebels.

If yes, where have you noticed upholder tightening show up in your life?

Otherwise, have you read the book yet? Do you intend to? What’s your tendency?

PS Better than Before is currently on sale. Pick up your copy here.

 



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