I have a very wise, very brilliant friend named Wendy. We've not yet met in person but I've known her for several years via a travel website I belong to. We've corresponded A LOT and in some ways I think we know each other better than even some of our own friends know us.
Recently we got into a discussion about patterns of behavior between two people - lovers, friends, family members, whatever. My belief is that patterns get established very early on. And much like glue, once "set", they're very hard to change.
Another friend of mine, Geoff, once said that when it comes to business, people tend to define you with the first thing they understand about what you do. So for example, in my case in years past, I'd meet someone and explain that I'm involved with building "mobile enterprise software solutions". I could see their eyes glaze over after the 2nd word! Then I'd add, "So for example, we've created software that handles the capture of timekeeping data, production statistics, safety information, etc."
At that point my fate was sealed. I could go on & on and explain that we also build advanced websites and do great database work, and can also customize AutoCad. But forever and a day, they would think: "Robert = Timekeeping with Mobile Computers". Period.
I'm convinced the same thing goes on between two people who start dating. Within a few weeks, perhaps even within just a few hours, the pattern of behavior between them starts getting quickly established and before too long it is pretty much solidified. Perhaps the reason why many relationships don't last more than a few weeks/months is because one person doesn't like the way things have been established and doesn't feel they have the right to suggest that the other person change. On the other hand, some others enjoy nothing less than reshaping the other person into their version of perfection. This can also cause great friction and also lead to a quick break-up.
So let's get back to Wendy's Wisdom ... actually, that’s a pretty good byline for a newspaper column! Up until this point I had thought lots about the patterns and had just accepted that they occur. Wendy broadened my thinking by providing me great enlightenment about the personalities involved. Perhaps such patterns are quite predictable if the personalities are well defined.
She spoke of 3 basic personality types:
- Alphas - as in "Alpha Male" or "Alpha Female" - Leader of the pack, a need to be out front and be in charge.
- Betas - the opposite of an Alpha, generally someone who accepts being directed by Alphas
- Omegas - a new category of her own invention
Here's some of what she wrote:
I invented the "Omega" term for those of us who don't fit into the Alpha or Beta grouping. So just as I suspected, you're a fellow Omega!
Omegas don't need audiences, nor do we need micro-managing leaders. We can work just fine on our own. We are by no means anti-social, but often we like small groups or 1-on-1 best, since we really aren't pack animals by nature. We CAN take charge when it's required, but we see positions of authority as positions of responsibility more than of privilege, and we are never about glory for ourselves. We tend to be honest about 'fessing up to any mistakes we've made, and we never take credit for things others have actually done (unlike most Alphas, who consider the entire team "theirs", and everything the team does is for their greater glory).
Alphas have their place, and the good Alphas actually make wonderful supervisors. Unfortunately there are a
I used to put up with Alphas and make excuses for their bad behavior, but now I just avoid them. They are too exhausting. Now I most enjoy the company of other Omegas - and yes, there are more of us out there than you might suspect!
I'm going to pay a lot more attention to what she's said and be on the lookout for [the worst kind of] Alphas. One of my dilemmas is that I generally find true Betas way too passive. I find people with opinions much more interesting but will now seek out more of the Omega class!