Your Dream Job is someone else's nightmare
What job is right for you? That's a common question that most people spend their adult life trying to answer.
Recently I read the short book (57 pages) "Managing Oneself" by Peter Drucker. There's a lot of good thoughts in this book, so I'll share my take-aways with you.
Your Dream Job is someone else's nightmare. That's not exactly how Drucker put it. But I've found myself saying this a lot lately when talking about jobs.
To get to the core of it, let’s look at me. I'm an introvert, a generalist and I produce a lot of my work alone. I’m self-employed and enjoy the freedom. I can live in the countryside, I don’t need the social life of a big city.
On the opposite side we have my brother, who is an extrovert and loves being around people and living in the big city. He recently landed his dream job as a morning radio host on a popular nationwide radio station.
If I switched jobs with my brother we'd both be living a nightmare. He'd hate being stuck out in the countryside, working alone and without constant social activity and team work. I'd hate getting up in the morning that early, being beholden to a boss and having to interact socially constantly and being live on the radio.
So, the idea here is that a job might be great on paper (well-paid and prestigious), but it might not fit your personality at all. It might not be the environment or content best suited for you to produce your best work.
After I graduated from law school I started working as a lawyer at one of the top firms (I thought that would be my dream job at the time). I only lasted a year, it was a terrible fit for me. A colleague started at the firm at the same time as me and ended up staying on for 10 years, so it was a great fit for him.
Society seems to put a premium on extrovert traits these days. People are famous for being famous (Kardashian's butt anyone?) and climbing the corporate ladder takes social skills. But, don’t buy into it, It's not second rate to be introverted. Many of the most successful people are introverted and highly focused.
Everyone needs to find the right work environment to produce their best work. So if you thrive on team-work and being social find a job that plays to that strength. If you like working alone, find a job that enables you to do solo projects or become a freelancer.
If you're a generalist don't try to succeed as a specialist and vice versa.
I'm a generalist, I get bored if I have to do specialist work for too long delving into the details in a specific field for years. If you're a specialist and love the details and specialising in a narrow field - don't try to be a generalist.
Sometimes a specialist gets promoted to a leadership position based on his achievement within a field. He is rewarded with a generalist job. Often that doesn't work out well.
If you aspire to be a leader you need to be effective at making decisions. But not everyone is good at making decisions. Some people are vague, uncertain, take too long and does not follow through. I'm not a great decision maker. I'd be terrible as CEO of a large company, but I'm a great adviser (and accordingly I do volunteer work as a start-up adviser).
When a CEO leaves, sometimes the company appoint the no. 2 guy. But what happens if the CEO’s right hand man was a treasured advisor but a terrible decision maker. The company pays with red ink.
If you have no aptitude for math don't spend your life trying to become a rocket scientist. Find out what you're good at and go with that. You don't have to try to become good at everything - we just don't live that long.