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Which of these two are you?

My brother Gus (bias: loyalty) & me (bias: autonomy)

Which is your orientation?

In a podcast episode, therapist Esther Perell asked her two clients, “Were you raised for autonomy? Or were you raised for loyalty?” Genius.

I’m not sure what your answer is, but when I think about the consequences of mine (autonomy) …This. Explains. Everything.

OK, not everything. And I know it’s not black and white. But still. You can see your bias to one or the other, yes?

So name it. And let’s look at the consequences of that orientation together.

What’s the surprising gift this has given you? For me, my bias to autonomy creates a willingness to be accountable, to take (even over-take) responsibility for what happens when it doesn’t work well. It means, mostly, that I’m not stuck in “blame conversations.” I just claim the mess as down to me, and then we can get along with sorting things out.

What’s the hidden cost to this orientation? For me, loneliness. I’m delighted to be a self-contained unit, but I’m always hoping someone knocks on the door, invites me out, invites me in. (Whether I end up saying yes to those invitations … well, that’s a whole nother thing!)

I’m not going to shift my orientation, and neither are you. It’s in our bones.

But you can still understand what’s going on. In fact, the somewhat meta-question to follow those two might be, what are the prizes and punishments of that gift and then again of that cost?

Once you see the consequences, you can start to refine your behavior.

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Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier

I'm the author of five books that have collectively sold more than a million copies. I'm the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. I'm the host of the *2 Pages with MBS* podcast.