Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What comes naturally

I walked into the office this morning during the weekly agent meeting for Prudential, and to my delight, our broker was asking all the agents to check their email and follow the link she sent us to take a personality test! Of course I did just that as soon as I was able. This particular evaluation is called the Core Capacities Index. I'd never heard of it, and it might have been developed specifically for Prudential by corporate, from what it looked like on the website. Anyway, this diagram illustrated

my results. Seems like the CCI is based on four basic personality types, a common system found in personality typing. The Core Capacities and what they are supposed to represent are:
Builder: Power
Merchant: Inspiration
Innovator: Wisdom
Banker: Knowledge

So apparently I have Merchant/Innovator tendencies. My result printout tells me that The Merchant works by the "cornerstone" of Inspiration and works best when they are able to motivate others with their vision and are at harmony with others. The Innovator's cornerstone is Wisdom, with understanding and compassion being central to my life strategy.
It wasn't the most original assessment I've taken, and it was a bit frilly. But I'm a fan of whatever any business is doing to help people understand themselves better.

I recently read that the Gallup Organization found that more than 70% of people “languish” in their jobs and never reach peak performance because they are stuck in a business environment that is at odds with their natural talents. How disappointing. I know that many people can't start out in their working life in exactly what suits them best, and that sometimes the stage they are at in life will call for them to do something else for a time that doesn't exactly speak to their strengths, but I think if I met a genie and had three wishes the first might be that everyone I know would find a job where they can thrive and use their natural talents. Either that or I would wish for the ability to disapparate.

My friend Anna and I had lunch the other day and got to talking about what sorts of things we gravitated towards and received praise for when we were kids. She said that she always felt drawn to sales. You know that type of kid, they're 9 and running the school bake sale and making a killing. That was her. She would make hats and her dad would help her sell them to the ladies at church. I laughed thinking about that.

I was, to say the least, quite different. I had a hard time selling Girl Scout cookies, and those sell themselves! Even though I know the CCI term Merchant didn't mean that you necessarily are good at selling things, I still thought it was kinda funny that I landed that title on the test. As Anna and I talked I realized that when I was grade-school age, I gravitated towards and received praise for creative expression. That mostly took the forms of writing and performing (musically and in plays). Both of those things came naturally and I wouldn't have thought not to do them. Anna and I discussed how what came naturally to you as a child can be a leading indicator of what areas you might be successful in later in life. She is very successful in her job in pharmaceutical sales. And although I have had zero desire to perform in any plays since I've been an adult, I know that when I can use creativity in my work, I flourish. I still love writing, and whenever I can apply my skills in that way, I feel fulfilled.

Think back about what you did well as a child and see how much of it is appearing in your life today, and if you happen to need more direction as far as job choice, take a hint from your elementary-aged self. To some this might seem like an obvious idea, but look deeper than at what was obvious. It definitely took me a few minutes to figure out. Lots of kids are good at and praised for general things, like grades, sports, clean rooms, etc. Only a few kids can be the troop leader in Girl Scout Cookie sales.

Let me know what you figure out!


Megan Stichter said...

I used to sit in restaurants and figure out how much money the business was making by how many people were coming in the door and what the average menu price was.

i also liked understanding things other people didn't, or being the first to figure the problem out.

what is my career now?


emilykatz said...

i loved to come up with ideas and watch other people execute them. [yikes] for example, i would come up with how we would get the candy from the jar without getting in trouble but would have my friends do it, in case we did get caught :)

*corinne said...

meg, we all know you've been on the right track since you first discovered the sum of 2+2. i love it.
and em, that's what i'm talking about! you would have been fun to have on my block growing up.

Anna Quinlan said...

My dad signed me up for a photography class when I was about 13, in a class full of pre-mid-life-crisis adults that were desperate to reinvent themselves as 'artists.' At one of the final classes, where we were supposed to bring in one of our prints to apply some cool finishing technique, I had to admit that I had none of my prints. I had sold all of my prints. While these 40 year olds had anguished over their art, I took my camera to my after-school daycare and snapped candid pics of cute kids, which their parents couldn't resist. That was a definig moment in my life.

Patricia said...

Great food for thought......thanks.
And your friends were very interesting and smart kids! :-]