11 kinds of people I’ve noticed and how to decide who you want to be

Very few people are do-ers – the kind who get things done and take care of business.

Here's what I've observed.

The poo-poo-ers

These people ALWAYS complain and NEVER EVER do anything but complain. Our society loves a good controversy so these people gain a group of followers of bitter, angry people who feel the world is out to get them. Everyone is a hypocrite? (OK, I agree on that one, but still, the person saying it better watch out too. ;-)

No one is ever right, everyone is corrupt and only a few people in the world are ok — the poo-poo-er him/herself and his/her buddies. Don't waste your time trying to please this person — you'll just get — yep, you know what – all over you. You'll never be good enough.

These people show up at board meetings and church meetings and everyone groans when they stand up because you know that you'll all feel much worse and sad to be a human being after they sit down. These people see the world through poo-covered glasses. I guess there's a place for this kind of person, but just not near me. Pew!

The look-through-ers

These people are always reading and looking at the latest greatest. Like perpetual shoppers who have all of the catalogs and look at them daily but never buy, these are often veritable repositories of information. They know a lot and are exposed to a lot.

If not careful, they can become paralyzed from making a decision and doing anything because they know that something new will come along tomorrow that they'd rather have instead. So, instead of doing something, they often just continued to look – finding lots of answers but never the answer for their situation.

The get-round-to-ers

These people know what they need to do but never quite understand the difference between the urgent and the important. It is always on their list, they always plan to do “it” but “it” — the important, visionary thing that really needs to happen — never gets done.

These people are often afraid to let go and delegate the minutiae of their jobs because that minutiae is what makes them feel job security. If they do a thousand tiny things, they'll never be replaced because they're “indispensable.”  They never figure out that people can be hired to handle minutia but a true visionary is the one that gets the big bucks.

The froo-froo-ers

These people will curl the hair on a poodle before sending him out to be a bird dog — the things they do are lovely, embellished and often beautiful but ill suited for the task at hand. Like putting on lipstick before sitting down in a dentist's chair, they often focus on things that are so trivial and banal and unimportant — but they insist these things be done painstakingly well — that others groan when they come to a meeting.

I've seen some in authority this way and it means that there will be several ill-fitting mis-guided Oscar-awards-like experiences that just don't fit what is needed. When people tell them it is froo-froo — these people just assume everyone the critics are poo-poo-ers who don't understand that “everything” should be done with excellence.

No, not everything should be done with excellence. Sometimes, marginally important jobs can be done sufficiently to get the job done — for example, napkins can be put on the table in the lunchrooms without tying a ribbon around it. Maybe the ribbon might improve learning in the school — but I doubt it — just give the kids the napkins, let them eat and get back to class.

The pontificators

These people pontificate and analyze everything. They sit on the sidelines and watch others do and analyze everything about what they done. They've always been able to find a misplaced comma in that brochure or a mis-said word quoted in the paper.

Count on them for a great analysis of what should have been done and could have been done. They'll give you great wisdom after the fact, but ask them what to do next week and they'll hedge their answer and give you both sides in the hope that one of the sides will be right and they can easily forget that they didn't give you an answer.

They have a huge need to be fortune tellers of the future so they say a lot of words, like throwing spaghetti against a wall, hoping something will stick. They sound smart and most of them are, they often lack the backbone to make a decision but wish they could.

The never-follow-through-ers

These people start down great paths but can't quite finish. It is kind of like the person who leads in a cross country race but decides to run another race halfway through the first one and takes off across town to get to the starting line. Call it short attention span or just an inability to finish anything they start — they start things alright but they just can't seem to finish. It might be fear or indecisiveness but these people have to learn to get the job done.

They blow bubbles of progress that pop moments after they are born. Lots of hot air but not much permanence there.

The preener seeners

These people love to be seen. They are great at picking winning causes and positioning themselves at the front to be seen. Sometimes they swoop in at the last minute and take credit. Because they are often well spoken, they are put out front to speak and give the sound byte to the media.

There are times that a good, honest doer may look like a preener seener, because they are well spoken and have their act together, but there are times that charlatans look like do-ers but really are just stepping up to take a bow and another step up. Don't mistake having a public job like a superintendent as being a preener seener.

There's one big thing that separates the preener seener from the do-er who has a job that needs to be public: the willingness to share the spotlight. A preener seener wants all of the focus to be on him/her — perfectly coiffed – this person says “I” a lot and takes credit for everything.

The do-er, however, will call the names of others when in public and make every effort to take others and put them on stage to give them credit, with a particular attention to those who can do nothing to help their career in return.

The jump-in-to-ers

Haste, rush, hurry, NOW NOW NOW. I've read that the most successful people are slow to make a decision but after the decision is made, they are slow to change their mind and stay committed to the cause.

This person is the antithesis of that– jumping in and making quick decisions without all the facts is what this person does. Sadly, this person doesn't stay committed and will just as quickly change course. If this person was a boat, they'd be riding in circles in the bay – -never coming into harbor and never going out to sea.

The I-know-everything-because-I'm-rich-er

Being rich means that a person is very likely good at managing money – that is it. Being rich is not a stamp of intelligence, higher learning, higher morals, or a higher calling. Mother Theresa gave up her worldly goods to help others and was the person you called on if trying to understand how to help the poor in India.

Wealth is a blessing and those who wear it well often hide it from the world and use it to help great causes. Beware of the arrogant wealthy person who arrives with money and opinions in tow – they will spend all of their money to prove they are a good, knowledgeable person. Honestly, I'm not going to ask the person born on third base how to hit a home run, I will however, ask the kind of person who has earned money from nothing because those are the action oriented kind of people I like.

If you can find a wealthy person who is humble and helpful, they are truly a blessing upon this earth and treat them well. That is the kind of person who should be rich. Being wealthy isn't a sin so don't treat someone poorly or disrespectfully because they are wealthy — wealth doesn't mean a person is obnoxious, I've known many very great men and women who were wealthy and saw it as a responsibility to help others.

The slackers

Yes, these people are there. They show up, clock in, go through the motions, clock out and go home to veg in front of the tv. Their goal is to expend as little energy as possible so it is saved up for R&R. A good day is one that is uneventful as possible so they sign up for as little as possible.

They often like a good story and enjoy hanging out, but doing something is an anathema to them. They miss the point that legacies are built when you work hard and work worth doing and live for the weekend.

Having this person in your group makes you feel like you're a mule harnessed to a dead horse.

I say “wake up the horse or bury him, too many people want and need jobs to let these hang around.” Of course, sometimes people look like slackers because their hope is gone and don't think things will ever change. Sometimes a do-er (see below) can look like a slacker because froo-froers or never-follow-through-ers are in charge and the do-er is frustrated because nothing ever gets done so they feel it is hopeless to try.

Be very very careful if you're a leader when you criticize the slackers. The slackers in a demoralized organization may actually be your do-ers who are sitting out rather than taking the cheapshots and potshots of a toxic organization of negativity or dysfunctional management.

Many doers take vacations as slackers until they decide they are ready to do again. Good managers recruit doers. A former doer who looks like a slacker is most likely just a doer taking a break. Good leaders know this and resist the desire to criticize people who do nothing. A lot of great leaders may be in this category at this point in time for various reasons.

If you're taking a vacation as a slacker, ask yourself if this is really the right thing for you to be doing? You can be more.

The do-ers

Doers are rare, beautiful, practical people. They don't always know the answers but have a habit of looking at the facts, making the best decision possible, staying committed and getting it done. Doers are known and sought after because they DO IT.

They have an uncanny ability to cut out the froo-froo, ignore the poo-poo, use the wisdom of the look-throughs to make a decision, and even to recruit some of the do-ers who have been taking a break in the slack-stack to come out of retirement and start doing again.

If you have a doer on your staff, their doing is contagious so treat them well, you have a gift. Because doers can get discouraged. If too much of the other roles are taking a lead in the organizations – most doers will tune out and quit. It would be like trying to pull a truck out of the mud when the back of the truck was chained to a tree — why would you keep pulling?

Doers are practical people with one exception. Sometimes doers spend so much time doing that they don't spend time being. We are human be-ings not human do-ings. Your self worth isn't measured in how much you do — sometimes you just have to be. Take time off and take a break – your kids and parents are getting older and so are you and none of us lasts forever. Will one more day at the office really make you a happier person?

How can we all become doers?

Don't be discouraged if you think you're one of the first few I named. This is just an unscientific observation from a person who is most often a do-er but sometimes takes a trip into other roles too. We all have tendencies to be each of these at different times. I've been ALL OF THESE at some point in my life, probably far too much than I wish to admit.

When I'm at a standstill in life I have to ask myself:

  • Am I trapped in my own negativity?
  • If my cell phone's voice recorder was accidentally triggered in the day and my words were broadcast over the PA, would I immediately try to figure out if I was having a negative conversation that I wouldn't want heard?
  • Am I continuing to look at options without making a decision? 
  • Are the people around me sensing it is time for me to make a decision and I'm still “looking at options?”
  • Am I letting the urgent things in my day keep me from focusing on important, visionary things?
  • Do I need to delegate some less important things and clear my schedule to DO something important?
  • Am I listening to those around me about the importance of what I want to do? 
  • What is the body language of people when I have a new idea that we're going to do? 
  • Do I let other people contribute to help get my ideas more central to the mission of my organization?
  • Do I spend a lot of time talking and hoping to be right?
  •  Am I always saying “I told you so?” 
  • Do I wish more people would just “listen to me” but never offer solutions? Maybe I need to put myself out there and make some decisions.
  • Do I finish anything I start? 
  • Do I start new things before enough old things have closure so I can make forward progress?
  • Am I focused on being seen, getting credit and moving forward my career or will I call attention and give credit to others who deserve it?
  • Am I a slacker? 
  • Am I too tired to do anything or have any ideas? 
  • Am I so discouraged that I've moved myself from do-er status to slacker status just to heal up before I start again?
  • Am I a doer? 
  • Do I pace myself and take care of myself and my personal relationships? 
  • Do I take time to be a human being and not just a human doing?

It helps if we all step back and take a look at where we are and where we're going so we'll know what success looks like when we get there.

Hope you've enjoyed my unscientific observations on the world and that you'll consider the kind of person you want to be in your life, your classroom, your community. Life is short and we need people who are unselfish, hard working, and have character.

You have already shown yourself exceptional because you are reading what others write. Take some time for introspection time today.

Take this article for what it is, a rambling view into the weaknesses of most of us. It isn't scientific nor meant to be and there are more things in life than this. In fact, I've let this post sit in my draft for over 3 months knowing that someone is going to email me about this or that, but you know what. I've reread this again and I think, the observations of people are right on. ;-) So, I'm going to do it and move on! Have a great day!

If you were writing an article on the kinds of people you've known, what would be your categories?

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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