The dabbler, the obsessive and the hacker. Who are you?

Alex Aristidou
4 min readJun 3, 2024

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All of us individuals are on a path to success, to greatness in one way or another. Some of us actively seek this path and do our best to master it. Some others passively go through this path, often rejecting the idea that we are able to reach greatness. Safely settling for the unknown outcome of the path. Because by rejecting the idea of greatness, you shield yourself from any type of vulnerability.

Either or, the idea is to enjoy the ride our unique path has to offer.

On this path to greatness, each of us experiences a unique journey. George Leonard in his book “Mastery”, discusses 3 major personalities that exist in the beginning of such a journey and with which each and every one of us can associate to one or to a combination. Mastery relates to the journey of growth and grow we must understand where we stand and try to overcome our status. The journey to understanding oneself and growing by acquiring new skills and knowledge is long. In that journey we experience highs but mostly we experience the plateau. The plateau refers to the stage of the journey where the growth results are not visible.

Imagine, you are about to learn to Ski. In the beginning, there is growth, you are learning new techniques and movements. After some time you reach the plateau. This is the moment where you learned all the basic techniques and you are able to Ski but it feels as though you are just Skiing without becoming better.

The three personalities

  1. The dabbler: The dabbler is all about something new. They love the excitement of a new project, new work and new people! They seek the highs in something but upon they reach a plateau they get bored, disappointed or lose confidence and they quit. Upon they quit they look for something new and they always do that.
  2. The obsessive: Similar to the dabbler, the obsessive is uncomfortable with the plateau. They dislike the “no growth” area. But in contrast to the dabbler, instead of quitting, the obsessive simply puts more and more effort into what they are doing to escape the plateau as soon as possible. Obviously, this leads them to burnout.
  3. The hacker: The hacker is on the opposite spectrum. They love the plateau and stability. They don’t seek much growth and just appreciate stability and comfort. They don’t seek greatness or growth — they simply take whatever comes.

Following up on the Ski example. The dabbler, would go all excited at the beginning. Buying nice gear and being super passionate about learning to Ski. Would dedicate enough time to prepare and to be motivated. The moment though where the plateau is reached and the excitement is gone the dabbler would quit and you would soon see them learning something new — probably tennis! The obsessive on the other hand instead of quitting would simply practise for more and more hours a day. Spending all their time and energy practising to become better and better. This would probably lead them injured or simply completely exhausted. The hacker though, upon learning the basics and being able to have some movement simply stops caring to learn and grow more. They are comfortable in the place where they learn how to ski and by their current technique. They don’t really want to grow more.

What should we do with the plateau and can we avoid it?

Simply, we can’t avoid the plateau. Not only we can’t avoid it but also we should not avoid it. What we should do is appreciate and enjoy it. Imagine life with only highs and lows. That would be meaningless. The plateau is important in putting our life and our growth into perspective. It’s our time to reflect on how much we have developed. What we have achieved and where we would like to be. It is the time to enjoy and celebrate our path so far and gear up for the next high. The plateau although it seems like a stable moment, is actually a moment of progress under development. Work is being done behind the scenes and for which we must be patient to see the results.

When starting this journey, I understood I was a dabbler. I always tried new things and looked for excitement. Knowing this is now very helpful as it enables me to react to the plateau when it arises and remind myself of the journey I am in. To understand that the plateau is something to cherish and to preserve and be patient for the greater result.

Who are you? What can you do to based on your personality trait to reach greatness?

These are questions, you should answer yourself. My only advice is, don’t settle for the basics, seek growth and seek mastery.

Enjoy the plateau. It doesn’t last forever.

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