How to drive your career forward

Aug 25 , 2017

Drive your career forward

Driving down the road of life, we often wish we had a crystal ball, especially when it comes to career advice. Wouldn’t it be great to possess the ability to be one step ahead of life’s curves and react to them before they become obstacles? And wouldn’t it be great to know what we wanted to be when we grew up, long before we actually did grow up?

Though many of us may not have possessed that elusive crystal ball when we started our career journey, the technology exists today to help drive your career forward. Understanding the “how” and the “why” we tend to do the things we do will give us incredible insight into careers that will be both productive and satisfying.

Driving in the dark

My career journey paints a clear picture of why having these tools would have been so beneficial. Coming out of college I planned to become a writer. When a job opening became available at the local newspaper, I jumped at the chance to get my foot in the door. Even though the job wasn’t a writing job, I figured getting in the door was half the battle and I’d find my perfect journalism position in due time.

The available position was in sales, not in journalism, but both my employer and I felt that I would excel at the job, because I was a self-starter, motivated, energetic, conversational and driven. These are all qualities that tend to be found in successful sales people.

The truth is, I was very successful at the job and rose through the organization earning promotions and pay raises. But I was not fulfilled. What should have been a career became a job. My excitement turned to apathy and later downgraded from malaise to dread before it was all over.

Let’s analyze where I went wrong.

Yes, I had the appropriate behaviors for the job. And many years into my career my company had all employees take a DISC profile that confirmed the fact that, theoretically, I should excel in this position. But what we didn’t look at was my values. If we had analyzed what my motivations were in life, career and otherwise, we would have seen that I was truly placed in a position that wasn’t right for me.

Values can also be called motivators and they explain the “why” a person does what they do. My main motivators are Intentional, Harmonious, Resourceful and Receptive. This “cluster” of motivators is the fuel that powers why I get up every morning and do what I do.

Intentional speaks to how I deal with others. With Intentional as my number one driver, it indicates that I am fully dedicated to helping a person or people for a specific purpose. The opposite of this is Altruistic, which describes people who are driven to assist others just for the satisfaction of being helpful. That isn’t me, and sales typically requires a person to be unilaterally helpful across the board. My second highest motivator, Harmonious, suggests that I enjoy balance in my surroundings and want to enjoy the experience of anything in which I’m involved. A driving force that deals with surroundings, the opposite driving force to Harmonious is Objective, which describes people who are driven by the functionality and objectivity of their surroundings.

Sales is all about following patterns and specific methods to work through the sales cycle, something that personally loses my interest. I love to try new things, take different paths and explore roads untraveled. Now it’s clear why I didn’t look forward to going into work!

My next strongest driving forces are Resourceful and Receptive. Resourceful deals with utility and showcases people driven by practical results, maximizing both efficiency and returns for their investment of time, talent, energy and resources. Sure, this can pertain to sales, but I feel that, as a writer, I get a lot more return on investment. I get the pleasure of people enjoying the articles I write. When I sold things, there wasn’t a whole lot of satisfaction when I made a sale, so even though the company I worked for got a great return on investment, I did not share that return on investment personally.

My fourth driving force speaks to methodologies and Receptive scores very high for me. It describes people who are driven by new ideas, methods and opportunities that fall outside a defined system for living. Receptive people fly by the seat of their pants and are willing to take risks. They are the anti-structured type. Sales is very structured, predictable and doesn’t speak to any of my primary driving forces.

If I had this information when I was beginning my career, I would have either pushed harder to start my career within the editorial department at that newspaper or I would have gone elsewhere to follow a path more suited to my motivators and values. If I only knew then what I know now!

Driving with eyes open

Although my proverbial ship may have sailed years ago, I have a younger friend who was looking for career advice. Nick was finishing up his engineering degree, preparing for the workforce in what likely would be a fairly lucrative first job. But he had some reservations.

Sure, he had the skills to be an engineer; and probably a very good one. And his DISC profile confirmed that he’d certainly be a strong candidate for work in this field. However, what Nick didn’t have was a burning desire to make a career out of this field. And he was aware of this fact before he even graduated.

In a strange twist of fate, I first met Nick at a homebrew club meeting. As the President of the local club, I had ample experience brewing award winning beer, both as an amateur and even professionally for a period of time. Nick asked me if I’d help him learn how to excel as a brewer, and he promised to be a dedicated apprentice. My Intentional driving force kicked in (remember, Intentional identifies people driven to assist others for a specific purpose) and I accepted the challenge.

Nick was a dedicated apprentice and helped me brew every batch of beer I brewed over the next two years. Once I taught him everything I could possibly teach him, he had a life revelation that he didn’t want to be an engineer at all; he’d rather become a professional brewer.

As his driving forces indicate, this was a good career move for Nick. His lead driving force is Harmonious as he is driven by the experience. And brewing beer is certainly a journey from the malt to the hops to fermentation to packaging. He is very high Intellectual, and brewing a beautiful balance of arts and sciences, rolled into one complex, exciting package. Nick is also Collaborative (there’s usually two to three brewers in a brewhouse) and Intentional, so he accepts the daily task of working with others to produce a new beer and enjoys the entire process.

So why was it a strange twist of fate that Nick and I met at a homebrew club meeting? I ended up relocating and eventually ended up in Arizona. When I settled in, I went to work at a brewery and once I got established, I ended up getting Nick his first professional brewing job. The mentor got to see the apprentice all the way through the cycle. And now when we review Nick’s driving forces, it’s obvious he is in the perfect career for him. And now today with all he’s learned, I go to him to learn things about brewing beer instead of the other way around.

What have we learned about driving, or especially 12 Driving Forces?

While these may be fun stories to recant what can we learn from them? I believe that exposing someone to these tools as early as possible can help guide them to choose a career in which they will excel and enjoy. The sooner a person can understand exactly how (DISC) and why (12 Driving Forces) they do what they do, the more focused they can be on what careers make sense for them.

They will avoid wasting time and finding out the hard way that they chose the wrong field of employment. By getting in the right field early, they can get established at a young age, make their mark and excel as an expert or eventually a master in their field. And most importantly, they can enjoy the journey all along the way.

No matter if you are just starting your professional career or are a seasoned working veteran, here are a few action items that can ensure you are investing your time wisely in a career that works for you.

  1. Take and understand the DISC profile. DISC will give you great insight about your behavioral characteristics that will predict how you may perform in various job situations. Some of the behavioral characteristics identified include: level of competitiveness, versatility, sense of urgency, level of persistence, organizational skills and how you relate to customers, to name a few.
  2. Take and understand the 12 Driving Forces science. Understanding the “why” behind what drives you may be the single most important insight to help you travel down the path best suited for you. With 12 Driving Forces, you will identify drivers that are predominant in your life (primary), drivers that occur situationally and also those things that you are indifferent, or maybe even opposed to, in a given situation.
  3. Taking these two sciences together in one report, the Talent Insights report will not only give you information in both categories, it will sum up how the two sciences work in tandem to paint a thorough picture of who you are and why you are that way. They are both important tools that each play a crucial role. But independently they only tell part of the story. Using them together tells the whole story, and that’s what we truly need to arm ourselves with the information to succeed.
  4. Don’t spend another minute in a job that is not right for you. There are plenty of careers and many ways to reinvent yourself. I’ve personally reinvented myself a few times over my working career, and not only is it doable, it’s invigorating to break through the uncomfort zone and make it happen! The hardest thing to do is start, so take the first step today toward happiness in your work life.

Would you like to learn more about DISC and driving forces? Click here now and begin your journey to a great new career.

About the Author

Dave Clark