the three-quarter principle

4 drinks

Images: Alice Pasqual, Carolyn V, Mazniha Mohd Ali, Jack Carter – Unsplash

I come from a family of five children. I’ve served in people-focused work for most of my life. It didn’t take me long to figure out that other people are very different from me.

I’m not proud to admit that for a lot of those years, the varied preferences, opinions, and ways of doing things often caused me frustration, irritation, impatience, and at times, a critical demand that others yielded to what I wanted.

In college, I was exposed to my first personality assessment and began to grow in my self-awareness. Later, as part of my job and my work in leadership development, I have used a lot of those tools. I have gained further insights into my personality, my learning and work styles, and some of my core motivations. And I’ve learned about others also.

Not everyone is just like me.

Some assessments are quite complex and differentiate a multitude of variations with subtle and scaled distinctions. The most simplistic assessments usually group people into four quadrants.

From those assessments, my eyes opened to the fact that, across that four-quadrant diagonal, some individuals would strongly desire or appreciate ways of doing things that were the complete opposite of my values and perspective. 

In a simple four-quadrant model,
my preferences only occupy one-fourth of the possibilities.

In other words, when I get to do things my way, three-fourths of the other people in the room are likely giving up their preferred option. 

This realization has helped me to consider life through a new filter. Instead of entering a situation and hoping that I enjoy everything about the experience, I am learning to be satisfied if I enjoy twenty-five percent. I now recognize that the other seventy-five percent of the experience – that would not have been my preference – has been quite enjoyable for the other people there.

This consideration has changed the way I think about almost everything. I do not want my selfishness to rob others of their opportunity for satisfaction. When I enter a life or work setting, I try to remember that it is not all about me. When I humbly desire that other participants feel comfortable and enjoy their experience also, then my twenty-five percent satisfaction rate becomes less a complaint and more a success.

Today, I say that if I like the majority of what is happening around me, then I am missing out – missing out on the richness of voices and ideas and options that complement and challenge mine. I am missing out on creative, relevant, and necessary thoughts, timings, and styles that I would not discover by myself. I miss out on the full beautify and uniqueness of God’s wisdom and design.

I am so much less without the other seventy-five percent. I am not willing to miss out on that richness, even if it means a bit of discomfort for me.

What helps you welcome diversity in your life? 

15 thoughts on “the three-quarter principle

  1. You are a gifted writer, Terry. I loved reading this. One of my favorite things you said was, “When I get to do things my way, three-fourths of the other people in the room are likely giving up their preferred option.” So true! I’ve been trying to think about others lately, instead of myself all the time. I’m sure I will think of this quote often. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much, Sue. It is fun to be in touch with you after all these years and to connect at a heart and soul level. Wishing you grace as we walk this journey together.

  2. Umm, much to consider in these thoughts. Yep, I’ve been guilty many times of judging others ot an event instead of appreciating and being thankful for the 25%. This one will become a part of my toolbox, for sure. Thanks, my friend.

  3. Hey Terry!!
    I always enjoy your posts. Thanks for bringing new perspectives to my way of seeing things!!
    I enjoyed this one in particular very much!
    Thanks agai!

  4. Well said, Terry! Now to appreciate those differences when the opportunity comes and learn from them. If we don’t we miss out!

  5. Wow. One of your best, my friend. The perspective of being satisfied with twenty-five percent BECAUSE the other three-fourths of people don’t see things as I do is a fantastic way of filtering my own issues. And if I’m thrilled with three-fourths of an experience, to ask the question of what I’m missing out of is phenomenal. It’s so easy to miss what’s right in front of my face. Thanks for this.

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