“You have to decide… Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore?”
That’s one of the questions Randy Pausch, famous deceased Carnegie Mellon professor, asked in his presentation “The Last Lecture.” It went viral, landing him on Oprah and a host of other afternoon and late-night shows.
I loved every other part of his lecture but that.
Because I think the world needs its share of Eeyores: solemn, stoic, realistic, pensive creatures. And I don’t think I’m saying that because I unapologetically claim to be an Eeyore.
I mean, imagine a world of hyperactive, happy Tiggers. How long can you stay with that image before you want to throw something at the striped orange guy?
I, for one, wouldn’t want to share a cube with perky Tigger always asking you what your plans are for lunch, and if you’ve scheduled anything fun for the weekend. I prefer the Eeyore who sips her coffee quietly, taking the morning in before sending any thoughts out into the universe.
The Eeyores of the world are realistic, sensible, and sweet. They tether the dreams of Tiggers to realistic standards so that they can be achieved and sustained. These guys are usually the sensitive folks who, having picked up on nuances in their environments, can usually intuit opportunity or danger. They can offer guidance and insights that come with being the kind of reflective persons they are. Their rich inner life pays off.
Other reasons we need Eeyores:
1. They are less judgmental.
Anyone who has been through the hell of an Eeyore knows to leave all judgment aside. The Eeyore has been told everything from “get your butt off the couch and stop crying” to “if you eat organic grains and go to yoga you wouldn’t feel anxious” and knows how insensitive words can hinder any movement toward recovery. The Eeyore, then, is extremely careful with what he says to folks, healthy and sick, and because of that, he earns the trust of his family, friends, and co-workers.
2. They are more compassionate.
Depression does more than shrink and destroy nerve cells in a brain. It also expands a heart. So the Eeyore catches the woman tearing up in the back corner of a conference room. She can’t help but tune into her intuition, reading a heavy sadness in the room. The Eeyore will go over to her and hug her or take her hand. She is no longer bashful of doing this, because she has been that lady, sitting there crying in a public room on countless occasions.
3. They are emotionally aware.
Eeyores are more aware of their inner emotional states, which can translate into technical or business innovation or can lead to profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors or other artists. Eeyores are usually highly sensitive, which means they process layers and layers of meanings, which can complement the risk takers in an organization.
So, now that we’ve identified an undeniable need for Eeyores in the world, what about the others?
Do they really represent mental disorders?
Illustration by http://rufiojones.files.wordpress.com