“How?” & “Wow!” Collide


When you need inspiration coupled with a good laugh, check out Jon Acuff’s blogs.  He’s launching a new book this spring and recently held an event in Nashville about the book which he then rebroadcast live online (thanks, Jon!).  One item that really stuck out to me was when he mentioned two personality types – “How?” people and “Wow!” people.  As you might guess, Jon is a “Wow!” person.  His wife, on the other hand, is definitely a “How?” person.  He excitedly tells her about his latest new idea and she immediately asks “How will this work?  What’s the plan?”, etc.  I had to laugh because I’ve seen this so many times in the non-profit world.  A visionary leader (“Wow!” person all the way) kicks-off a staff meeting with, “I have this idea! We should…” and the planners (yep, the “How?” people) cringe.  They start asking the “How?” questions and two things happen: First, the leader is frustrated that his people don’t “get it” and aren’t “on-board”.  Second, the relationship between the leader and the planners becomes strained.

I love the solution that Jon and his wife developed.  When Jon brings up a new idea, Jenny dreams with him and doesn’t ask any “How?” questions for two weeks.  By then, they may decide that this new idea isn’t worth pursuing or, if it still looks viable, she starts asking “How?”.  Now, we can’t always wait two weeks in the non-profit world (especially since most of the visionaries I’ve met want to implement their new ideas yesterday!).  However, planners can hold back their natural instincts for a short timeframe to appreciate the heart and passion of their visionary leader and dream with them.  We all have different talents and abilities to bring to the table, so let’s value what each person contributes to our organization.  Visionaries come up with ideas that are inspiring, fun, creative and will have an incredible impact on people’s lives.  Planners take those great ideas and figure out the nitty gritty details of how to turn them into reality.  When these two types of people work together, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.

So, which type of person are you? How do you (oops, guess I just revealed which type I am!) work with your team members who are different than you?