Reading the article, The UpSpiral “Sync” With Your Strengths, reminded me of several conversations I’ve had this week. I’ve been talking a lot this week about the concept of natural versus learned (or adapted) behavior. This concept critical when it comes to what it means to have clarity about your career goals, in addition to the age-old question of your ideal job in the job search process.
Natural behavior is your gut instinct, your first inclination, your natural reaction to a situation. If we were prehistoric cavemen, how would we react to a particular situation? To explain this, I often describe a three-year-old. If a three-year-old child has their favorite toy taken away from them, his natural gut reaction is to throw a fit, hit someone, and take that darn toy back.
However, as we get older, we are taught how to function within society. We are taught to adapt our natural behavior to fit in with societal norms. We learn how to be successful in a situation. That three-year-old learns that they must use their kind words, they must ask for the toy back nicely or to get help. This is not their natural inclination; it is what they’ve learned is the proper way to handle a situation.
In our careers, natural behavior and adaptive behavior function in a very similar way. Our natural behavior is our first gut instinct, our initial reaction to a situation. Our learned or adapted behavior are those skills that we have learned that make us successful in the workplace.
“Strengths are strengths because they feel very natural, and using them comes very easily. When we use our strengths, it takes very little psychic energy, and we feel like we are just being ourselves. . . Strengths are related to a sense of flow and ease.”
Often jobseekers tell me how they are good at many things – they are a “jack-of-all-trades.” And while this might be true and we have all learned many skills to adapt and survive (much like that caveman), those adapted skills are often in conflict with what our natural behavior might be.
Take the example of a stereotypical accountant, who is very introverted and would prefer to sit in their office alone with the door closed, looking at their numbers all day long. Because they are so good at their job, it won’t take long for them to keep getting promoted and end up in a position of leadership. This position requires them to interact with subordinates constantly, and even be required to bring in new clients and new business. Sure, they can do it, and they can do it well. But that does not necessarily mean that they love doing it, or it ever “comes easily.”
It is this internal struggle between our natural behavior and the adapted behavior that is one of the primary causes of long-term career dissatisfaction. Just because you can be a jack-of-all-trades doesn’t mean that you ought to.
Identifying your natural behavioral style and how that might conflict with a potential career opportunity is a vital component of the job search process. This is where DISC behavioral assessments can come in handy. Email me today at Julie Mendez@JSMCareerCoaching.com and to have your own DISC assessment done today.