Why Being Type A is a Surefire Way to Lose at Life
5 ways to shift to “Type Be” and start winning!
Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get — W.P. Kinsella
My dating profile currently leads with “Recovering Type A”. While I find it funny, it’s also my hard truth. Until recently, like most of my fellow Type As, I took pride in being one. It defined me. I lived in New York. I talked fast, I walked fast, and I had limited use for patience. I took pride in my ultra-competitive nature and relentless aspirations.
In my research, I learned the actual definition of a Type A. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. The term was created to define a subset of people deemed most at risk for a heart attack or stroke due to excessive stress. For forty years, I’ve worn a clinical diagnosis as a badge of honor! #winning #not
This changed a few years ago when I woke up one day and realized I wasn’t happy. I was engaged to an amazing woman who loved me. I was running a rapidly growing tech startup that had raised fifteen million dollars. And, I had financial success from selling my previous company.
But, where was the joy? Why didn’t I feel remotely fulfilled? As a Type A, I was programmed to always want and pursue more. This, I would learn, is the exact recipe for an unfulfilling (and hence losing) life.
For the past three years, I’ve been on a journey to find a new way of being. I don’t claim to be fully recovered. I’m not sure I ever will be. But, I have found far greater joy and fulfillment than in my entire fifteen-year sprint to “success”.
A New Winning Way: Introducing Type Be
Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are. — Chinese Proverb
As a marketing guy, I couldn’t resist branding my new way of being. I call it Type Be. The opposite of Type A is just being. And it’s the being that creates 100% of our happiness. Looking back at past achievements or forward at lofty goals can never satisfy, never fulfill. There is no reality in the past or future, just stories and interpretations we’ve made up. All joy happens now, in this moment, the only moment that ever exists.
Becoming Type Be doesn’t mean retreating to the mountains and meditating all day, although it could. For me, I’ve chosen to look at how I could continue to create and build. I’ve spent the past few years experimenting with ways of being. I’ve sought ways that allow me to follow my passion to build conscious businesses through my new company 1heart. But, without all the unhappiness, stress and obsession.
Here are the five key shifts that have been working for me in shifting from Type A to Type Be:
1. Set Intentions Over Goals
Goals can be effective in seeking achievement. But, rigged goals can often lead to frustration, disappointment and stress. As Eckhart Tolle states in A New Earth, “When you want to arrive at your goal more than you enjoy what you are doing, you become stressed.” Sound familiar?
When you are successful in accomplishing your goals do you pause and celebrate? As Type A’s, we are on to our next goal without ever enjoying what we’ve achieved. Take for instance the goal, I want a promotion within the year. The goal, while it may seem aspirational, limits you. You created a situation where only accomplishing this exact goal will allow you to feel successful. What if your promotion requires you to compromise your integrity? What if the new job keeps you away from your family? What if something much bigger is possible?
Contrast this goal with setting the intention, I want to come to work inspired and challenged everyday. Imagine what might be possible if you focused the same energy towards that instead. Which will likely bring you more joy, passion and enthusiasm on a daily basis?
2. Follow Your Heart Not Your Head
For someone highly analytical like myself, this is HARD. My mind looks at every angle and always thinks it’s right. Ever had a brilliant idea that seemed like a stroke a genius? Ever torn that same idea to shreds only days, hours or minutes later? That’s your mind’s job. It’s programmed to analyze, question and avoid danger (risk).
As cavemen in the wild, we needed to process information fast to avoid becoming prey. This is not; however, where most of our best ideas come from. Our heart knows the answer to our most important questions like who to love, what our passion is, or even where to go on vacation next. In fact, the heart actually contains 40,000 neurons that can sense, feel, learn and remember. It operates 100,000 times stronger electrically and 5,000 times stronger magnetically than the brain. That’s some serious power. Here is a great exercise to help you start Accessing Your Heart Intelligence.
Trust your heart, that’s where your true wisdom lies.
3. Live Big, Don’t Dream Big
Over ten years ago, I heard Snoop Dogg remark on Conan O’Brien, “Dream BIG, you may never wake up!” This immediately became my life’s motto and stuck for well over ten years. Recently, I saw the quote on my Facebook profile and realized how flawed it is.
Our society espouses that if we aspire high enough, we just might reach it. Reach what? When are you there? What about right now, this minute, this second? This is your life. Dreams cannot bring fulfillment. Only being awake to all the beauty that is already around you can.
Choose to be grateful and watch as you discover more to be grateful for than you had ever dreamed possible.
4. Embrace Oneness Over Competition
For most of my life, competition fueled me. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder and something to prove. Perhaps being short has something to do with it? I’ve twice won company bowling tournaments by more than 50 pins over the next guy. I just had to win. Bowling?!!!
In business it’s often about crushing the competition. Famed investor (and politically confused citizen) Peter Thiel, espouses creating monopolies. Sure, it can be a successful way to create returns for investors, but for the planet?
Throughout my recent spiritual journey, it’s become abundantly clear that we are all connected, all one. When we embrace this truth and look to build solutions that honor it, we create far greater value than a few “unicorn” companies.
5. Surrender to Life, Don’t Conquer It
This is the current focus of my personal growth. I grew up believing that if I wanted something more than anyone and worked harder than anyone, I would get it. For most of my life, this proved true. The problem, I didn’t understand what I wanted. Most around me likely would have described me as insanely determined. That I was. Insane.
The universe has a vibration, a flow, that will guide us to our highest place if we don’t fight it. If we let go, stay present and in tune, we will swim with the current instead of against it. When we surrender, there is nothing to conquer, nothing to fight. Recently, a top life coach recommended I read The Surrender Experiment. It’s the best book I’ve read this year and an amazing true story of a Type Be who achieved success while completely letting go.
I’ve had similar results in my life when I’ve been able to practice surrender. I detailed my three year spiritual journey from Type A to Lost on Purpose in my previous article. What I found was that, “When I got rid of my expectations and beliefs of how things should be, life unfolded before me. And it did so in ways far better than I could have ever planned”.
If you want to be happy, be. –Leo Tolstoy
For Type As, or recovering Type As like myself, there is always a push to do more faster. I pushed hard working sixty-plus hours a week for fifteen plus years. Eventually, I inevitably burnt out. But, becoming Type Be doesn’t necessarily mean sitting still or even slowing down. It does mean being present, tuning in and allowing yourself to get pulled by the Universe to your highest calling.
As a Type A, you probably have a plan in place. You are executing your plan and think you have it all figured out. Trust me, it’s not something you can figure out. It’s not something you can think your way to. To find true fulfillment, you can only connect to your heart and feel. And to feel, you need to learn to just be.
Who in your life can benefit by shifting to Type Be? Share this article with your favorite Type A!