Each of us is the sum of everything we have learned, felt, and experienced. We are all different and tend to do things in different ways. That’s why a job will work for one person and not another.
Ask 10 people to describe a tree and you’ll get 10 different answers. One person might talk about a palm tree, while another might draw a favourite climbing tree. Someone else might say, “A tree is big and has leaves,” while the next person might give you a detailed report about the different types of fir trees.
The way each person chooses to describe a tree depends on that person’s experiences and preferences. The same holds true for the tasks we do at work. We choose ways of doing things based on our tendencies.
Recognizing your own personal characteristics will help you find work you like.
What are tendencies?
Your tendencies are the things you tend to do naturally. You could say they make up your personality type or the way you prefer to act.
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Think about signing your name. When you use your preferred hand (the one you normally write with), it feels natural, comfortable, and easy. Using your other (non-preferred) hand feels unnatural, awkward, and difficult.
Your tendencies influence how you react to or think about things. Often these tendencies have opposites. For example, you could be:
- A big-picture person who is visionary and creative, and who looks toward the future
- A detail person who is exacting, focuses on the task at hand, and prefers to work step by step
Thinkers and doers are another example:
- A thinker looks inward, reflects on things, and finds creative answers to the questions life holds.
- A doer is good at putting thought into action and getting things done.
Other opposites are introverts and extroverts:
- An introvert tends to recharge by spending time alone and prefers to work independently.
- An extrovert loves being the centre of attention and thrives on teamwork and open work settings.
Most people do not act one way all the time. For example, some people are ambiverts, showing qualities of both an introvert and an extrovert depending on their mood, their goals, or the situation. But usually we lean in one direction or the other.
Once you know what your tendencies are, you can understand why you naturally want to tackle some types of tasks. You’ll also recognize why some tasks or problems either bore you or challenge you.
Understand that one tendency or personality type isn’t better or worse than another. Each personality type has its own strengths and weaknesses. Most workplaces need people with a range of different personal characteristics to make their organizations run smoothly and successfully.
Play to your strengths
You’ll do your best work and feel energized when your work supports and takes advantage of your natural tendencies. Once you know what they are, you can find work where you can use them to your advantage.
- If you are a thinker who prides yourself on being precise, organized, and analytical, you might consider a career in the sciences.
- If you are a doer who loves using your hands, fixing things, and figuring out how systems work, you might consider a career in the trades.
Manage any drawbacks
Every personality type will also have a downside. For example, big-picture people can be messy, disorganized, and forgetful. Detail people may not like things to change and can tend to micromanage others.
Understanding the drawbacks of your tendencies means you can learn ways to offset them. For example:
- If you are a detail person, you may look for ways to develop your ability to keep the big picture in mind. You might choose to work with big-picture people. Every so often you might step back from your work to examine the whole forest instead of individual trees.
- If you are a big-picture person, you may look for ways to pay more attention to details (so you don’t run into a tree while you are looking at the forest). You might choose to work with detail people. You might also consciously try to be more focused on what’s happening right now.
Consider all your assets
Knowing what makes you tick will help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. But remember that your personal characteristics are just part of the complex person that you are. Make sure you also consider your core skills and other traits as you plan your career.