Finding Your Superpower to Choose the Right Career (and Happiness)

What’s your “superpower”?
Choose your career path based on what you do best, not what you think you’d like to do.

Our sales dawg, here at Raving, Amy Hergenrother, admits that she’d kill herself if she had to organize the millions of details involved in running a Raving Conference. My husband, Jim, would shut the door and hide if a group of fifteen folks came to our house unannounced. I would gladly invite them in, have a dinner made with what I could find in the cupboard, candles lit, and table set before they got through their first cocktail. Yeah, me and Martha Stewart. Both Amy and Jim (lovingly) call me a freak.

I’m also freakishly bad at many things. I get an ulcer thinking about asking a vendor for money to exhibit at a Raving Conference, and would probably give a booth away for free (even though I know they’ll see a huge return). Whereas closing a deal for any amount of money, is seriously fun for Amy, and she lives for it. I can barely open a box, let alone put together a multi-part bookshelf or piece of equipment, whereas Jim would excitedly dive into it like a Christmas present of Legos.

If we HAD TO do each other’s tasks in an emergency, we could figure it out, but it would be a friggin’ miserable and long process.

How about you? Do you have people at work or at home who love the jobs that you absolutely hate? Why is that, and should you take a higher paying job or one with more status, when the skills required are not in your wheelhouse?

Choosing to spend my career in small start-ups, I’ve never been exposed to personality type tests, such as the ones that the corporate world is so fond of. Recently, however, one of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk, offered a personality master class course through her new start-up, Quistic, based on C. Jung and I. Briggs Myers type theory. You can take the test for free by clicking here. What Penelope does through her live class is make the personalities come alive and be actionable for folks as employees, managers, parents, and with our partners.

My goal of taking this live, online class was to help me figure out:

1.    How can I better deal with some relationships in my life that bring me great frustration?
2.    How can I utilize my strengths in order to evolve at work?

(And honestly, I’ve got a crush on Penelope. If you’ve ever read her blog, she’s damn smart and a total trip. Her candid, “take no prisoners” style of writing inspires me to write honestly for Raving and my own blog).

As a newbie to the testing, and to have the opportunity to spend over four hours face-to-face in Penelope’s living room for three evenings, I got every dollar’s worth. If you’ve gone through this testing before and had a facilitator who was a rock star like her, this might be repetition for you. For me, it was inspiring and this is what I learned:

Utilizing personality types can help you:

•    As an employee — acknowledge your superpower, so you can choose jobs and projects that you’ll succeed at, and thus feel great about
•    As a manager — play to your employees’ strengths, so you can ultimately get them to perform to their utmost ability
•    As a friend or a partner — demonstrate more compassion, so you can better understand their motivations and adjust your own expectations for the relationship

Penelope put it best in a follow-up email from the class:

“The feeling of being overworked is not related to how much work you do, it’s related to how much is outside your wheelhouse. If one person is getting energy by doing stuff they’re great at and the other is feeling like they’re going to die because they’re doing things that are depleting them, you have a recipe for disaster. Divide tasks by what each person is awesome at, and don’t make people do things outside of their strengths.”

Like my example above, Amy and I both have our superpowers. I’ve never thought of our skill sets in such a positive, unique way. I have always thought that if it’s super easy for me, then it must be a super easy task, and easy for most everyone else. Not so.

The cool thing is that our unique “superpowers” can be applied to any industry; these skills make us the superstars in whatever organizations we work for.

For the heck of it, I had the rest of the Ravers here in Reno take the test. The results were pretty spot-on.

We’ve always known that Dennis is the “big idea guy” — and didn’t need a test to tell us that. He scored as an ENTP (The Visionary). He has an incredible way of looking at the gaming industry in broad, strategic strokes that are spot-on. He can see a “need” immediately, and offer a solution that makes people smack themselves in the head and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” However, he’ll be the first to admit, he doesn’t want to get wrapped up in the day-to-day details in order to see that solution come to fruition, as he’s off to other big ideas in the meantime. What the test validated for me is that most ENTPs don’t like being around people who won’t listen to or understand their ideas. Many times, I don’t get what his big picture vision is and ask for details that he can’t give. We end up frustrated with each other. Maybe we can stop taking it personally and communicate better?

I scored as an ESFJ (The Caregiver). I didn’t like this, so took the test four different times, through four different sites. Each time I scored the same. But it fits me — I get energy from organizing groups of people; harmony is extremely important to me. Looking back at my career, the jobs that I’ve enjoyed most are the ones where I’ve had a team that enjoyed immense camaraderie.

The biggest takeaways:

1.    Focus on your natural skills — choose a profession that speaks to your core talents. Don’t get caught up in finding your “one passion, your one perfect job.” We all have many passions, but not all of them pay the bills.

2.    Challenge yourself by perfecting and developing those skills to their highest levels. With that, you will become the superstar in your organization.

3.    From Penelope, “… if you do the work that meets the core needs of your personality type, you will feel passion. Because you will be engaged in your work. If you refuse to pay heed to your core personality, you will always feel that you’re searching for something elusive in your career.”

4.    Recognize how you think about things, how you approach a project, which might be unique to you, and only you, in your organization. If your co-workers, boss and employees are not responding to you, you just might not be speaking their language. If you figure out where they’re coming from, what’s of value to them, then you’ll get the results that you want.

In a roundabout way, this class reminded me of this: ultimately, we all want to spend our time doing what makes us feel good, doing what engages us, and developing meaningful relationships. Fulfillment won’t come from one singular aspect of our lives. It’s a combination of all those things — relationships, career, and hobbies.

Thanks Penelope Trunk  for introducing me to the “superpower” theory!



PS — I’m sure you already know what your superpower is, without having to take a test.  It’s not the only tool in your quiver and you can slant your results depending on your own truthfulness. But just maybe, it will give you one new idea, one new perspective about your life, your career, and your relationships.


Original version published by Raving Consulting

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One Response to Finding Your Superpower to Choose the Right Career (and Happiness)

  1. I’m a believer. It’s always better to try to communicate with others in the same “language” and in their shoes. I love this post. Thanks

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