The secret to a super career

strengths…Your personality?

As obvious as matching career with personality sounds, I’m not sure it’s so straightforward. Previously I’d thought that by considering my skills and interests and challenges I could take on, that I was essentially taking into account my personality when it came to finding a job I could really succeed at and enjoy, but now I’m not so sure this is the case.

In Free Range Humans (a book on self-employment that I reviewed a few weeks ago in a post titled ‘Dream BIG’), the author, Marianne Cantwell, questions whether skills – things we’ve become good at, are actually strengths – things we enjoy that we also happen to be good at. Marianne talks a lot about playing to your own strengths (which will be closely related to your personality) and not feeling that you have to do it all and be good at everything (i.e. not feeling you have to constantly build new skills and challenge yourself).

In the drive for perfection and success it’s easy to forget the things we’re naturally and effortlessly good at and comfortable with.

Susan Cain, author of Quiet (which I reviewed in my last post) talks a lot about finding a career that suits your personality. There may be things that we really enjoy doing, but only in small doses, and there may be things that we’ve taught ourselves to be very good at, but which are actually a struggle and oppose some of our inbuilt personality traits. Of course we can put on a bit of an act when we have to, but it’s really important that we do still have the time and space just to be ourselves.

Considering where we get our energy, whether from people and action or from alone time and quiet, is really important in keeping up our energy levels. 

I guess the key thing I’ve realised is that I need to make sure I’m focussing on my strengths (as defined by Cantwell), and not just my skills, and to consider where I really get my energy from and make that an active consideration in my job search.

After all, no-one really wants just a job, or even a career in the long term, do they? Aren’t we all ultimately looking for something a little more meaningful? And I would argue that finding this ultimate career/life path is going to mean much more focus on personality, passions, values and strengths, rather than skills, vague interests and considering things you could learn to get better at (i.e. challenges for yourself).

See this great post Job, Career or… Something Else, and it’s reference to an ‘All I want to be…’ statement. And check out 20 signs that you’ve finally found your life’s work not just another career change for more inspiration.

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6 comments on “The secret to a super career

  1. I love your statement “I would argue that finding this ultimate career/life path is going to mean much more focus on personality, passions, values and strengths than skills, interests and challenges.” I completely agree & I will be exploring this more in my future posts. You and I sure are on the same page – I look forward to following you. And thank you for sharing the link to my post!

  2. Glad to see the quality and depth of your thinking here-that’s wisdom all right.
    I think too many people fall into the trap of “conforming” often because they don’t know any better and because of the conditioned mind in action. When you know yourself deeply,beyond basic personality, you understand what drives your energy and authentic success because we all evolve. Values and finding that core identity are absolutely the keys to opening the door to meaningful work. A great post which I ‘ll be sharing!

  3. Great insights! I’m not sure that personality is the whole issue, maybe more one piece of a larger puzzle called “self-awareness.” Of course, that’s a concept that is itself hard to define (there’s a debate on a LinkedIn group for career professionals I’m a member of on this subject, and it’s over 100 comments and still going strong).

    Still, the tendency to focus on “what I’m good at” at the expense of “what I want” has gotten a lot of people into trouble – whether that be short term dissatisfaction or serious longer term career regrets.

    “Passions” is another one of those buzz words that tends to get overused. What does it mean to follow one’s passion? When does a strong value or interest make the jump to being considered a passion? We throw words like this around a lot of the time without pausing to ask what we really mean.

    Just some thoughts. Nice post!

    • You’re right, personality probably doesn’t quite cover it, more understanding yourself. I guess the difficulty lies in actually working out what it is you want and what fits with who you are when there is so much focus on what you’re good at.

      I was actually thinking of writing a follow up post on the difference between interests and passions, you make a good point. But I definitely think the difference is important – there are a lot of things I’m interested in but it’s working out what really means something to me and I genuinely want to do that’s the problem. It is hard to define though.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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