Have you ever thought of someone very successful, perhaps someone who inspires you, and think to yourself that the person always seems to be in the right place at the right time? Some people seem to be blessed with great luck and perfect timing. And it seems that everything these people touch turns to gold. But is it really about luck and destiny or does it have something to do with positioning oneself for success? Are you set up for success today and in the future? If not, stop talking about “one day” and start talking about “day one.” Make today that day!
The Road Less Traveled
Though my ultimate career goal was to become a successful touring musician, I went to college to learn the skills needed to be a professional writer. I felt this was a sound backup plan to the very unpredictable musical dream. And, eventually, I became the writer I set out to be. But you can say I took the Long and Winding Road, for you Beatles fans. Ozzy Osbourne fans might even call it the Road to Nowhere. I might have taken the road less traveled on my way to becoming a writer but at least it wasn’t the Stairway to Heaven. I digress.
As my college career was coming to a close, I jumped on board as a freelance writer with a new startup rock magazine covering anything from record reviews to concert coverage to live band interviews. Clearly right up the alley of an aspiring musician who figured having a day job would be a sound backup plan should the music thing not pan out. Working for this magazine was a great learning experience and downright fun, enabling me to meet and interview some of the very bands that inspired me. Though I learned a lot and enjoyed the ride, it was not a long term solution as it was a non-paid apprenticeship.
Shortly thereafter, I did get a job with a major daily newspaper. The only problem was the job wasn’t a writing job; it was a sales job. Possessing enough ability with words both on the written page as well as on the phone, I excelled in my inside sales role, eventually promoting to outside sales. Deep down, I knew I never intended to stay in sales for any length of time; but it provided good income, especially for a musician always in search of that brand new guitar.
Had I taken the time to really analyze what I wanted to be when I grew up, besides a musician, I could have put myself on a path for success at a much earlier age, and had a much happier and more productive career. Better late than never, I guess, but if one person can benefit from the mistakes I made, I will feel I’ve made a difference. So in the words of Motley Crue, On With The Show!
Figuring out who you are through assessments
How does a person figure out exactly where they should be and what they should do in their working life? Knowing oneself as thoroughly as possible is a great place to start. Figuring out how you do what you do, and even more importantly, why you do what you do, will help you realize what you should seek and what you should avoid. This applies not only to job choice but to virtually anything in life.
A person’s values or motivators can be measured through assessments. These values or motivators are also known as Driving Forces. A person’s most prominent Driving Forces are referred to as their Primary cluster of motivators. For me, after working half of my life in a career that gave me absolutely no satisfaction beyond my pay and benefits, I finally figured out that I am driven by four motivators. These motivators explain the WHY behind why I do what I do in the majority of situations.
My strongest motivator is known as Intentional. This means that I am very willing to help people but want to do so with a very specific purpose in mind. So while I’m not Altruistic and have no desire to save the world, I love to help people especially where they show a willingness to be helped. Every time I write a blog that might turn out to be someone’s “a-ha” moment, it makes me believe I may have made a positive difference in someone’s life. Or so I hope.
I am also very Harmonious, meaning that I value beauty and balance in my surroundings. It means I like to live in the moment and enjoy my surroundings. Maybe that’s why I love music so much? Two of my all-time favorites happen to be The Beach Boys and The Beatles; two bands that define the word harmony. Surroundings appeal to all the senses, not just visual, so I am much happier in a place that looks, sounds, feels and smells good. Cubicles, assembly lines and other non-stimulating environments are not ideal for satisfying my Harmonious Driving Force. There’s not a lot of harmony in sales which can indicate why I got complacent, and eventually resentful, working in that industry as long as I did.
My other strong drivers are Receptive and Resourceful. Receptive speaks to the ability to do many things at once, often times diving into a project without having all the information needed to complete it effectively. Looking at my “to do” list on my desk, I see at least a dozen tasks that I’m currently undertaking. And there's a similar list waiting for me at home. Am I receptive? Absolutely. Resourceful refers to people who are driven by practical results, maximizing both efficiency and returns for their investment of time, talent, energy and resources. I love to write blogs to help share knowledge just as I enjoy helping co-workers when they need a hand with a project. But I am always very aware of the “bottom line.” Am I receiving anything in return for the time I am investing? Thankfully, besides a fair wage, I get a tremendous amount of positive feedback on both counts which is it’s own form of “pay” for time invested in a project.
Don't think about it - take action!
The point to take away from this story is that if you get to know yourself as thoroughly as you can, this knowledge will help guide you to a working career that can be satisfying both financially and mentally. I’ve reinvented myself several times over my working career and it’s never too late until it is.
Before I had a thorough understanding of myself and what drives me, I held jobs as a landscaper, record store worker, beer brewer, sales executive and sales manager. And the majority of those jobs did not speak to any of my primary Driving Forces. Today I am a full-time writer who also performs regularly as a musician. Deep down I’ve always known what was important to me, but I never really knew why until I discovered these revealing assessments. Discovering tools such as DISC and Driving Forces helped uncover exactly what makes me tick, and gave me a new path and the direction to get me where I needed to go. These tools work and they can work for you too. Make today the day you let them help you find your path to your perfect career.