Wouldn’t it be great to grow our careers in line with who we are? To know yourself at work? To find a career and job that plays to our strengths and seems to fit us well?
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I was stuck in a rut a few years back. Deeply unfulfilled and stressed because I was being asked to use my weaknesses at work and I was so bored.
I’d ridden through some chaotic times in a start-up and thrived – that was my comfort zone – chaos and uncertainty.
But we’d got past the crazy fast stage, I’d brought some maturity to the company, allowing us to ship value and be insanely productive. Processes were working, intense recruitment was over and now it was just about cranking out the service, day after day, after day.
This was not my happy place. Not me at all.
I pondered why I was unhappy and burning out. I pondered why it had been so good for me, and now why was it so bad?
Then I pieced together three tools I’d stumbled upon in my HR research – and it all fell into place.
I created a “guide to myself” that I could then use to understand how to be better at work, find work that played to my strengths and find things in my life to make me happy.
There is a free worksheet to accompany this post – along with lots of other ideas to work through. Grab it here.
Those three tools, when pieced together, formed what I call the Trinity of Career Development.
DISC – to discover your communication and behavioural preferences
Strengths – to discover your strengths and weaknesses
Happiness – to discover what you need in your life to be happy
The links are below. Sign up and complete each survey. Unsubscribe from each one after if you like.
Feel free to find alternatives, or to even create your own Trinity.
I like the following three because they cover the three main aspects of being effective at work:
- Working out your own preferences for communication.
- Working out what you’re good at, and not so good at.
- Working out what brings happiness to your lives.
The links below are all external to Parent Brain.
Please check the privacy policies and terms of data use before signing up. Please don’t give an email address that you don’t want them contacting you again on.
Please be careful is what I’m saying. And I accept no liability for the results and use of email. 🙂
The Strengths Finder 2.0 is really expensive which is why I also include a free survey. I gain no financial incentives to promote Strengths Finder 2.0 – I just think its awesome.
Strengths – Strengths Finder 2.0 Official (can be expensive) – https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/home.aspx
Free alternative – https://high5test.com/test/
Happiness – https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/user/login?destination=node/434 (Choose VIA Survey of Character Strengths)
THE TRINITY – DISC
- For DISC I recommend Tony Robbin’s free online survey.
The first tool out of the three is Disc – a wonderful tool for showing you your natural communication and behavioural style.
I like disc because it’s simple and it’s not a personality test, it’s about behaviours and you’ll know, here at Parent Brain, we focus a lot on behaviours.
Disc has four main preferences. it’s important to point out that we’re rarely just one major preference type and are usually spread across a couple.
Let’s jump into DISC.
The letter D in the top left segment stands for Dominance. Imagine decision makers, task focused, assertive, determined.
The letter I in the top right segment stands for Influencer. Imagine high energy, good personal communication, storytelling and people orientated.
The letter S in the bottom right segment stands for Steadiness. Imagine harmony, strong inter-personal communication, peacemaker, people orientated.
The letter C in the bottom left segment stands for Conscientious. Imagine attention to detail, task focused, process orientated, seeking perfection.
People who are D and I, tend to be more assertive in that they believe they can exert influence on their world.
People who are S and C, tend to be more passive, in a sense believing they have less influence on the world around them. They are more reserved and cautious.
The right hand two, I and S, tend to be more people focused. They are more trusting of people and focus more on people and belonging to social groups.
The left hand two, D and C, tend to be less trusting of people and hence put more focus on tasks, information, evidence and action.
As you can see already, it’s important we have careers and jobs that align around our natural preferences.
As you can see also – when you bring people together in the workplace, and you have a mix of people across DISC, you can see why conflict may occur and frustration with people in the workplace happens.
With disc you have gold insights into yourself and how you naturally behave and communicate. This is powerful enough, but you also have the ability to try and understand other people too, either by observing clues or using a cheat sheet, or because you know their type already because they’ve sat DISC.
Grab the DISC cheat sheet to better read others and improve your own communication.
The goal of DISC is to understand your own preferences and then learn how to shift to meet other people.
Yep – that’s right – move to meet other people.
Let’s say you are a HIGH D and you are the dominating, go-go-go type of person where results matter. Let’s imagine you are speaking with a HIGH S who is more intent of harmony, diligent behaviours and steady work. Conflict may occur if you don’t move to meet them.
They may find your demands and need for results stressful. You may find you talk over them as they take longer to get to the point. You may find yourself giving them direction and tasks to do, rather than asking them what they think.
Great communicators move to the other person.
In this situation temper that drive, listen more than you talk, ask questions and be patient. Move to the other person.
And if you’re lucky, the other person will be a good communicator too – and they will move to meet you.
And in the middle, when everyone is moving towards each other, is when effective behaviours and communication happen.
THE TRINITY – STRENGTHS
- For strengths I recommend Strengths Finder 2.0 (https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/home.aspx) or the free alternative https://high5test.com/test/
Simply sit the questionnaire and get your strengths. Depending on which version you have used there will be limited or full reports available.
Of course, if you can afford to pay for Strengths Finder then the output you get is richer and more informational. Equally, the free list of your top strengths is enough to work on.
You could of course ask your friends and peers what you’re good at, but the reality is they’re likely not trained or knowledgeable enough to give you great insights. Maybe they are 🙂
These strengths tools are a great way to give some indication about what you’re good at. They are not 100% scientific, but you will likely resonate with the results and they are good indicators of where to spend your energy.
You want to know what you’re good at. Once you know this, you need to look at your job and see whether you’re using your strengths or your weaknesses.
There are times when we need to turn a weakness into a strength. This should happen a lot as you move through your career, but we shouldn’t be trying to fix all of our weaknesses. And we shouldn’t be fixing weaknesses that don’t lead us to our painted picture.
We can’t be amazing at everything. We must accept we have weaknesses.
The question is “Is a weakness holding us back from what we want to achieve?”
In my own life I am terrible at spreadsheets and math. Is it holding me back? Not at the moment, so I won’t focus on it.
We should be accentuating our strengths. Making our strengths better and stronger.
We should be trying to align what we’re really good at, with what our company needs us to do.
It is soul destroying to be asked, at work, to use your weaknesses as your main responsibilities.
THE TRINITY – AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS
- For happiness choose VIA Survey of Character Strengths fromAuthentic Happiness.
The authentic happiness questionnaire is hugely in-depth and backed by science.
This questionnaire uncovers the top 5 things you need in your life to be happy.
When I sat this, I was blown away with its accuracy, but saddened because I knew I’d let those side projects go, the ones that brought me happiness.
For me happiness is found in Reading, photography, video production, helping others in their careers, the appreciation of nature and of course, spending time with my family.
It’s important to point out that happiness doesn’t have to be found at work.
Of course, we’d love to have happiness at work, but that might not be possible, and we should never expect employers to pander to our preferences for happiness at work.
But if we align our core DISC preferences and our strengths at work, then we will feel fulfilled and competent and that should bring happiness at work. To top up our happiness quota, we should carve out some time to do those things we enjoy.
It is our job in life to align all three inside and outside of work where possible. And that’s only possible by understanding ourselves, reflecting on what we discover and then taking action.
I do hope that with these three pieces of personal insight you are able to better understand yourself and how all three play a role in our career development.
I’d encourage you to study the data that comes from all three and really ponder what it means to you.
As you can see in the image below, I have added all three to one page. I can then see myself on a single page.
Every time I make a career decision, I need to ensure its heading towards or aligned to me as a person.
If it takes me away from what I’m good at, from my own personal abilities, I need to understand why and make the right decision. It may be a necessary move in uncertain times, or it could be because I want to develop a weakness, but likely it’s because money or a new title is luring me away from who I am.
There’s no joy in putting money and job titles above aligning The Trinity and the Painted Picture. Trust me, I’ve done that, and it led to burnout.
Finding work that plays to your preferences, uses your strengths and allows you to weave in the things that make you happy, is worth a lot more than any title and salary.
Of course, we’re all in different seasons of life with different constraints, opportunities and motivations, but knowing more about ourselves will help us to make conscious decisions about where to take our careers next.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.
Here’s a video if you want to watch me wander Michelder woods and hear about The Trinity.
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