Are you a jackhammer or a hummingbird?

As I’ve been described as a ‘hummingbird on speed’, this article really appealed to me 🙂

According to Elizabeth Gilbert – The world is divided into two types of people. There are the hummingbirds, and there are the jackhammers.

Although I’m not a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert, this article on Mamamia, caught my attention. Also the fact that it was an Australian woman who took Gilbert to task about her earlier advice of ‘follow your passion’. The woman wrote to Gilbert saying she had made her feel like a loser as she hadn’t been able to find her passion despite years of searching. So Gilbert took another look at herself and the advice she was dishing out, and came up with this new inspirational message. You can read the full article here.

When I was working as a Senior Correctional Education Officer, in a minimum-security men’s correctional centre, one of my colleagues described me as a Hummingbird on speed – a title I accepted as a compliment!! It has stuck to me ever since 🙂

Debbie Harris


In the article, Gilbert defines a jackhammer as someone who becomes consumed by their passion and “we don’t look up and we don’t veer, and we’re just focused on that until the end of time.” She identifies herself as being in this category.

“It’s efficient, you get a lot done” she admits, “but we tend to be obsessive and fundamentalist and sometimes a little difficult and loud.”


Photo by Pixabay on

And then there’s the hummingbird, the colourful bird that floats around. It does sound a bit like me, now that I come to think about it!!

Hummingbirds spend their lives doing it very differently. They move from tree to tree, from flower to flower, to field to field… Trying this, trying that.

Gilbert explains that whilst hummingbirds may feel anxious about not immediately finding their passion, they shouldn’t feel pressure to change.

“They create incredibly rich, complex lives for themselves and they also end up cross-pollinating. That is the service you do if you are a hummingbird person”.

For those who recognise themselves as a hummingbird, Gilbert goes on to say that eventually you will be much happier for following this path.

In other words, if you can let go of passion, and follow your curiosity, your curiosity just might lead you to your passion.

Elizabeth Gilbert

You can read the full article here on Mamamia: Elizabeth Gilbert: Are you a jackhammer or a hummingbird

Which are you?

As someone who is innately curious, I did find it an interesting article and can understand why I was described as a ‘hummingbird on speed’ all those years ago!

Which are you – a jackhammer or a hummingbird? Or doesn’t it matter? Let me know what you think, I’d really like to know your thoughts.

Enjoy your weekend.

Deb x

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Debbie - mother of a 40 year old

Everyone has a story to tell! Deb is a young-at-heart & active 60+ blogger/retiree, after being made redundant from her 22-year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre (jail). She now spends her time reading, blogging, riding her ebike and travelling. Deb was awarded a Bravery Award from the Queen when she was 17 after a tragic accident – a definite life changing moment! She is married with 3 grown-up daughters & has 4 grandchildren. She never imagined being Granny Debs would bring so much joy to her life! You can read more of Deb’s story here

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37 Replies to “Are you a jackhammer or a hummingbird?”

  1. I’m sitting here in our windsurfing campground reminded of the obsessed jackhammers you describe. They are hard to live with and be around for very long. My hubby and I seem like hummingbirds, eager to flit around and taste the entire world, but take long and frequent sips from our passions. Thanks for sharing this, Debbie!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think i’m a bit of a chameleon between the two. I can be a real Flibberty Jibbert until I find something to sink my teeth into. Then I barely lookup to draw breath until finished – that is unless I get distracted half way through…..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes I know what you mean Chris – there possible should be one for inbetweeners! Distraction is bad but procrastination is worse!! Thanks for joining in, I found it a very interesting article 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s an interesting premise and it’s good to see Gilbert has been able to reflect on her earlier thinking and amend it to take in other people’s way of being in the world.

    I’m always a bit wary of binaries – if only two choices – because I’m inclined to think that there are more than two ways of describing people. I don’t find it helpful to say ‘you’re either this or that’ and I know that will put me into the ‘killjoy’ camp but I think people are much deeper, richer and more complex than ‘you’re either this or that’ allows for.

    It’s just another label we can use to define us and in labelling ourselves we can constrain ourselves. We might fall into the trap of thinking something like ‘I’m a jackhammer so I can’t possibly change my focus’ when if we hadn’t attached that label to ourselves we wouldn’t have thought twice about changing focus.

    I think it’s the notion of labelling ourselves that I have a problem with especially if we then use that label as a way of defining us.

    If Elizabeth Gilbert finds it useful to divide the population into two types to help her make sense of the world and understand that not everyone is like her, then that’s one thing. But being definitive about it seems to taking things a little to far.

    Of course, we have a choice about how far we go in finding her binary thinking useful for our own lives. My point, I guess, is that I don’t find it at all useful.

    Not sure why I felt the need to say all that. I could have played along, but my background as an academic who has published about labels based on my personal experience, seems to have prompted this extended response.

    Feel free to tell me to lighten up, Deb!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for discussing labels, Sharon as I was left a little flummoxed when I read the two options, as I didn’t really identify with either and wondered why Elizabeth felt the need to talk about this publicly.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow…now that’s in interesting way to think about each of us. I do get quite focused when I’m working on a project, but I’m not sure I’m quite the jackhammer. Leave it to me to consider myself a little of both…LOL!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I suddenly became disappointed with Elisabeth Gilbert. Because if I had to choose, I would say hummingbird, but jackhammer,well, maybe sometimes I am that too. Wish I could identify wholeheartedly with one sort, but where is the fun in that? It might, instead describe a little part of us, and then only sometimes. Then again, maybe I am the only one who thinks this way? Thanks for posting. Now I know what Miss Eat Pray Love is up to now. ( loved her book by the way).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s great to finally hear an option for someone who has not yet found her passion! Too often that’s been the “should” in retirement. I would never have said I’m a hummingbird, but I am finding I like the discovery of trying new things. This is the second time this week that the term curiosity came up for me in one of these define yourself “quiz” things. interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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