McLeod column: Does your job suit your personality?
By Lisa Earle McLeod
How did you choose your profession? Did you lie awake at night as a child fantasizing about spending 10 hours a day hunched over a computer?
If youíre like most people, you probably fell into your profession.
When I was a kid, my secret dream was to be a tele-evangelist. But I gave up on that after I told my mother and she informed me that I’d have to start going to church.
Gallup polling data reveals that 20-30 percent of people are actively engaged in their work. That means a good two-thirds of the people schlepping to work every day are going through the motions, toiling away in jobs they donít particularly enjoy.
And we wonder why depression is on the rise.
We can blame bad bosses or poor management practices. But I believe the root problem is that most people stumble into their professions without enough self-knowledge to know what they would actually be great at.
We tend to choose a job based on the pay, work surroundings, what other people tell us we should do, and what happens to be available at the time. In the current economy, many feel lucky just have a paycheck.
But if youíre in a job youíre not suited for, itís only a matter of time before you’re miserable. And if you’re miserable, chances are, youíre not delivering superstar performance for your company or colleagues. As my Dad says, ěIf youíre unhappy with them, itís only a matter of time before they’re unhappy with you.î
I would know. I spent first 5 years of my career in the wrong job until a quick personality test (Myers-Briggs) revealed that I was never going to happy in a job with no creativity.
One common source of career misery is people who are working in the right subject area but in the wrong role.
For example, many people become teachers because they liked history, biology or English Lit. Yet they get into the job and realize that they donít actually like preparing lessons or patiently helping poor students learn. A love of Chaucer isnít enough; a good teacher is someone who enjoys making personal connections with students.
The same thing applies to any other profession. If youíre a quiet introvert who recharges by being alone, you probably don’t want to be a customer service rep. You may love books or computer games, but the last thing you need is a job selling them.
When weíre unhappy with our work, itís easy to blame our misery on the boss, company or the working conditions. It’s scarier to admit that we might simply not be a fit. Acknowledging that you’re not well suited for your profession feels like failure.
But itís not.
It simply means that your job isnít a good match for your inherent skills or personality.
If you’re an extrovert, or a touchy-feely type, or analytical, thatís probably how you were born. No amount of training or incentive pay is going to turn you into something youíre not.
Itís not the bossí job to figure out where you would be better suited; itís yours.
Do a free online Myers-Briggs test or another assessment to help you better understand yourself and start moving towards something that will make you happier.
People who hate their jobs wind up not being very good at them. You deserve better that that. And so does your employer.
Lisa Earle McLeod is an author, columnist, keynote speaker and business consultant. She is the President of McLeod & More, Inc., an international training firm specializing in sales, leadership, and customer/consumer engagement. Her newest book, The Triangle of Truth, has been cited as the blueprint for ěhow smart people can get better at everything.î Visit www.TriangleofTruth.com for a short video intro.