Entries Tagged as "Careers"

Synchronicity and Kemp's Ridley Turtles

Okay, so this is a strange title but they definitely are connected (in my life) so read on.  Those who have spent time learning a bit of Jungian psychology know the concept of synchronicity.  Its simplest definition is a “meaningful coincidence.”
I wrote this post in the Houston, Texas area while visiting with a long-time friend who owns and runs a private school for ages 3 through 9.   She’s an ENFJ and is constantly encouraging her students and her teachers to grow and develop; her curriculum is incredibly creative and students are well loved by the teachers -- they form strong bonds with one another.  I was there to do a type session encouraging even more teamwork among her teachers so that they could improve their collaboration and better educate their students.
The school’s primary grade students have an annual fundraiser. The second and third graders (about 20 in all) have a project in which they pick an endangered animal, research it with their families, and write a report on their findings. Each presents the report and their classmates vote on the one they want to be the subject of their fundraising – Kemp's Ridley Turtles “won” this year.  These turtles also have a close geographic connection to them: Padre Island, Texas is being reintroduced as a nesting site.  There is only one other site in the world (Rancho Nuevo, Mexico) where these turtles return to lay their eggs.
The teachers include these turtles in their lessons.  For example, each grade draws pictures of the turtles using different art techniques (see the art teacher’s blog for some samples).  Elements of the pictures are put together and a t-shirt is designed for the “fun run” fundraiser event.
Now here’s the synchronicity.  Decades ago, marine biologists were mystified as to where the Ridley Turtles had their nesting site, but no one could find it to even begin protecting it.  My uncle, Henry Hildebrand (INTP) was part of the hunt and actually was the first scientist to document their nesting site in Mexico.
(As an aside, you can probably see that it is difficult to be part of my family and my friendship group and escape the MBTI® inventory! My adult children have requested that I hold off asking anyone they date to take it right after I meet them!!)
Uncle Henry was a remarkable man and a dedicated marine biologist. He gathered data on turtle sightings in part through talking with locals in both Texas and Mexico (he spoke fluent Spanish, although apparently with a heavy Texas accent).  He spoke with anyone who might have information, including fishermen, fish processing company owners, villagers and scientists. He had an incredibly wide circle of people who spoke at his funeral service – all of whom admired his independence and his ability to talk to each person as an equal. He learned something from everyone, and was able to put together theories of the turtles’ migration patterns and their potential nesting sites.  And he finally found the sites at Rancho Nuevo along the Gulf of Mexico.*

So how is it that this friend of nearly 50 years who has run this school for 25 years and whom I had never visited until March 2012 was having a school focus on Ridley Turtles that my late Uncle Henry had been intimately involved with in his career?  That’s synchronicity!
Talking with the children who had just gotten back from a turtle rescue lab in Galveston was a treat.  Showing them pictures of my uncle and the Mexican nesting grounds of the turtles he had discovered was wonderful. Hearing their excitement about turtles and the things they learned was even better.
I’ve come away with a greater appreciation for both my uncle and for how good teaching happens.  Some would say, “What a small world.”  Synchronicity happens!! 

   *Read more about this in The Great Ridley Rescue by Pamela Phillips, Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1989.



Career Stereotyping

I just heard it again…career “advice” that “you really shouldn’t go into that field because you’re the wrong type!”  What is the wrong type??  As an ESTJ, following that logic, I shouldn’t be a psychologist!  Yet, I’ve found ways to be in that profession that fit wonderfully with my type. 

No, I’m not a psychologist conducting therapy to help my clients grow and develop by delving into their childhoods and providing brilliant insights on destructive patterns and how to overcome them.  I am a psychologist who enjoys teaching others about some of the nuts and bolts of psychometric instruments (the mechanics I’m interested in are not those of machines, but of people-related assessments).  And I enjoy teaching practical applications of the instrument by using examples of people I know as well as “how to” stories.

I also work as part of a team conducting a leadership program – I put together small groups of people who will work on a task together.  I use my ST to make sure I have the facts about those people and a logical structure in forming the groups.  My goal is to have diversity in those groups (yes, including type diversity) so that people can intentionally experience the inclusion of different perspectives.  Some of the best learning has occurred with teams who initially had conflict but who stuck with the process, analyzed their dynamic, and figured out ways to move forward together. 

But back to stereotyping - just think about substituting gender or race or ethnicity or country of origin in that first sentence limiting occupational choice; I doubt that anyone would utter that out loud at this point, although those were limiting “characteristics” in many people’s eyes not so long ago.

As for stereotyping/limiting based on type, I am assuming the perpetrators are simply misinformed!  If they bothered to look at the data, they would find that all occupations have all 16 types, although certainly there are some patterns. 

Focusing on a sample of 509 career counselors,* the type least represented is ESFP at 2.2% and the type most represented is ENFP at 16.1%.  (They are just one “letter” different, but that letter and its dynamics matter a lot! Who says type dynamics don’t matter…but that’s a post for another day!)  STs are 17.7% of that career counselor sample; SFs, 23.4%; NFs , 41.8%; and NTs, 17.1%.

I admit here you are seeing a bit of my ST approach in the paragraph above – research data!  However, think how limiting it would be to have a career counselor who…

  • only provided data on jobs and the job market, along with efficient procedures for you to follow (ST), and missed that there are individual differences among people and exceptions to the data, or who…
  • only provided the latest theories on career development (NT) and didn’t focus on you and your immediate needs to pay bills, or who…
  • only provided direct support for you now, not offering any alternatives that might upset you (SF), and didn’t encourage you to see beyond the day to day to the challenges of the future, or who…
  • only focused on empowering you to be all that you could be (NF) while you were really just an ordinary musician, not someone who could logically earn their living as a rock star.

You get the picture, don’t you?!  So are you limiting people by their types?


* From MBTI® Type Tables for Occupations by N.A. Schaubhut and R.C. Thompson, Mountain View, CA: CPP, 2008. Another good source for related information is MBTI® Type Tables for College Majors.



20-Somethings and Type

My kids and their friends are in their mid-20’s now, and I watch them with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I envy them because they are attractive and strong and they know it, and their lives are filled with discovery, excitement, and anticipation.

On the other hand, I feel sorry for them. I sit in the home that I love, with the spouse that I love, and go to a job that I love, while they are anxiously looking for all of those things. Before they find their “big three,” (career, spouse and home) most of them have to go through an assortment of jobs that don’t fit, potential partners that disappoint, and homes that don’t feel like home.

I’ve noticed something though, and it’s about those jobs-that-don’t-fit and their types. I’ve noticed that even when they are doing jobs that don’t use the talents of their types, they still find ways to exercise those talents. It appears that you can’t keep type from expressing itself, even if it’s not getting paid to do so.

For example, the talents of an ESFJ include organizing people around projects that help people, but the first job my ESFJ son Paul had was financial auditor. He worked with numbers, not people, and when an audit was finished, he usually had to tell people they were doing something wrong.

At the same time, however, he was also busy organizing the people in his company to do volunteer work in the community, play on sports teams, and go on hiking adventures in scenic places. 

The talents of an ISTP include the skillful handling of tools and weapons, but the first job my son’s ISTP friend Chris had was stocking a warehouse. On his days off, however, he worked for a contractor, learning how to paint, plaster and lay bricks, and then went home to play war games on his computer.

The talents of an INFP include helping people in creative ways to understand themselves and realize their potential. But the first job that my daughter’s INFP friend Rachel had was to edit proposals for a large consulting firm, a job that was detailed and rule bound, and didn’t allow for exploring human potential.

In her spare time though, Rachel was reading voraciously and discussing ideas about literature. She was also organizing unusual theme parties for her friends, like a New Orleans Carnival, or making creative birthday cards for them that captured their special talents, as well as the most significant moments in their relationship with her.

The talents of an ISFJ include taking care of people’s physical and emotional needs, but the first job that my ISFJ daughter Perrin had was just pushing paper in an office and watching her boss publicly humiliate the other employees.

In her private life though, she was usually taking care of people’s emotional needs with empathy, support and frequent praise, and their physical needs with home-cooked gourmet food for meals, birthdays, wedding showers, parties, picnics, and tailgating.

Some day these kids are going to find a way to incorporate their talents into their occupations and not just their hobbies. It can take some time though, because even though they may know what they want to do in their free time, finding a way to do it for money can involve a lot of trial and error, and let’s face it, some things just require more maturity. 

In the meantime, I get a kick out of watching how their types manage to emerge, even when they can’t get out at work. So many things are uncertain for these kids, but the talents of their type, I’m beginning to realize, are not among the uncertainties. You can bank on them.


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Synchronicity: How I became MBTI® Qualified and found CAPT

In the early 1990s I was a part of a leadership team whose job it was to roll out a quality management program at a local hospital. I had assumed the role of “facilitator” on a multidisciplinary team who had been charged with the task of improving the timely delivery of drugs from the pharmacy to the cancer unit. To make a long story short, it became clear after a few meetings that these folks saw the problems and solutions so differently from one another that to find a unified approach was going to present a formidable challenge.

One evening I was pondering the not so positive dynamics of this team when a friend of mine who happened to be an HR executive called to chat. This gave me the perfect opportunity to vent my frustrations. I can remember saying, “This team’s problems have nothing to do with knowledge or skill and everything to do with how different they are from one another as people. They just can’t see each other’s perspective.”

At this point my friend stopped me to remind me of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, an assessment I took when I was a sophomore at the University of Florida. I hadn’t thought about the MBTI® assessment in years but was glad to be reminded of it.  Perhaps I could use it to help the people on this team learn to appreciate different approaches, rather than seeing another person’s way of doing things as wrongheaded.
My friend went on to tell me about Otto Kroeger and Associates (OKA) in Fairfax, VA, where I could attend a training program and learn how to administer and use the MBTI® assessment. Good. This gave me the incentive to convince my CEO that the quality management endeavor would greatly benefit from what I would learn about psychological type and how to apply it to teamwork.
So here is the “synchronicity” part of my story…On the first day of class the instructor says, “We use many acronyms during this program and there are some you should know: APT, the Association of Psychological Type is the membership organization that sponsors conferences every two years. CPP, Inc., is located in Palo Alto California and is the publisher of the MBTI assessment. CAPT, the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, is the non-profit organization founded by Isabel Myers and Dr. Mary McCaulley and it is the training and research organization dedicated to the ethical use of type. CAPT is located in Gainesville, Florida.”
At that point I said to myself, “No way!” Had I flown to Virginia to take a class that was being offered in my hometown? When I returned home I made a point of visiting CAPT and introducing myself to Mary McCaulley, the founding President of CAPT. As our relationship developed she asked me to do some volunteer work for CAPT, which ultimately led to my becoming a member of the Board of Directors in 1993, and eventually becoming the President and CEO at CAPT. This was a job that incorporated all of my values and would let me practice the appreciation of differences every day. (Not so easy, by the way.) How could I have said no?

Working with Mary McCaulley was both a privilege and a pleasure. She had a passion for the work of C.G. Jung and expressed her observations with a twinkle in her eye and a lilt to her voice. I can still hear her saying “synchronicity” in that joyful tone when a series of seemingly unrelated events resulted in an uncanny coincidence. Jung coined the word synchronicity to describe this type of chain of events…and it aptly describes the journey I took to get to CAPT.

• Learn more about Jung's work on synchronicity.

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Climbing a different mountain

Greg Mortensen
One of my heroes is Greg Mortenson, the author of “Three Cups of Tea,” the story of a mountain climber who learns to reach for the top of a different peak.  It may be part of my INFP nature, but I am drawn to stories where the hero achieves maximum “save the world” effect in situations of dire need. 

Greg’s story starts with a failed attempt to summit K2, the second highest mountain in the world. On his descent he stumbles into the village of Korphe in Pakistan, where he has an epiphany about what his life’s work should be.  With typical American bravado, he promises to return to these engaging people and build them a school. His route to fulfill that promise is circuitous, but after a year of challenges he eventually builds that first school.

This achievement is astounding, and as an introvert I am doubly impressed because the key to his success turns out to be learning how to communicate with the diverse tribes in this very risky area.  He talked his way into victory!

Since then Greg and his Central Asia Institute have built and outfitted 131 schools in the most remote and dangerous regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, educating over 58,000 students, most of them girls.  Even the U.S. military acknowledges his expertise in the region, and he has acted as a non-paid consultant to help forge trusting relationships with the tribes. 

His new book is called “Stones into Schools” and in it I found a wonderful description of how Greg views his personality.  Keep in mind that at the writing of this book Greg had "made 680 appearances in more than 270 cities, all in a three year period."  As you can imagine he spends more time presenting to large groups of people than most of us. 

Yet he is “an incorrigible introvert.” He does not enjoy the activities required of the spokesperson for a global non-profit foundation.  Instead he says, “I dream of privacy, revere silence, and I loathe any action that involves drawing attention to myself.

“Given these facts, the duties of speaking, promoting, and fund-raising into which I have been thrust during the last several years have often made me feel like a man caught in the act of conducting an illicit affair with the dark side of his own personality.“

We could argue that there really is no dark and light side to introversion or extraversion, but I find it comforting to know that a person who so deeply identifies with introversion can manifest such clearly out of preference behavior in such a wildly successful manner.
Perhaps there is hope for me after all.  Time to start climbing.


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