A lot of things can tilt the scales in the direction of us either loving or hating our jobs.
Micromanaging bosses. Uninspiring clients. Unequal pay structures or fluctuating work hours—all of these annoyances can grate on our last nerves as an employee. But what we think about our professions may actually have more to do with our personalities than it does about the companies we work for.
The Enneagram of personality—a system that outlines nine core fears and passions that influences our perceptions and reactions—suggests that one person’s professional trash may be another’s career gold. Each of the nine types requires a slightly different environment to thrive within. Conversely, each type will feel direly inhibited by a certain set of professional circumstances.
To produce meaningful results, we all need to feel confident that our core fear can be regularly avoided and our natural strengths can be drawn upon. If these conditions are not met in the workplace, stress and burnout are likely to become an immediate concern.
Here’s exactly what it would look like for each of the nine Enneagram types if they were to find themselves in a workplace where all of their worst fears were actualized—and precisely which dream they might use to escape from their unfavorable circumstances.
Your professional nightmare: You are forced to lie and take advantage of your clients in order to perform well at your job. If you speak up about it, you’re fired—and your family’s livelihood relies upon you maintaining your position.
Your professional dream: You are an integral member of a team that is actively working to make the world a better place. The respect that your company shows to both its employees and clients is unparalleled. It is quickly becoming the golden standard for workplaces to aspire to internationally.
Your professional nightmare: You are hired on as a formality but your contributions to the company are not particularly valued or needed. The more you try to help, the more annoyed your coworkers get with you.
Your professional dream: You alone hold the necessary skills and abilities to transform the lives of your clients. You have a knack for hooking people up with their dream jobs, connecting them to just the right people, or offering the precise services people need to get themselves back on track. Talk of your work is spreading fast and your phone is ringing off the hook.
Your professional nightmare: The work you produce is exceptional, but all the credit goes to somebody else. Day in and day out, you must watch this person get praised for their brilliance, while your contributions go completely acknowledged.
Your professional dream: You are universally admired for the drive, determination, and competency you bring to your field. Awards are not just handed to you—they’re named after you. And they only go out to the hardest hustlers in the biz.
Your professional nightmare: You are in a position of advocacy for a downtrodden population that you are a part of. Every time you try to express the injustice of their situation, you are criticized for being too sensitive and told to stop exaggerating.
Your professional dream: Those who are struggling to find solace and relief in the unique perspectives you have to offer. Your deep understanding of the human condition allows the misfits of the world to find comfort in their own skin and make peace with the way they exist in the world.
Your professional nightmare: Procedures are put firmly in place, but the only way to get ahead is to ignore or skirt around them. Your success depends on your ability to improvise in high-pressure environments and then quickly cover your tracks.
Your professional dream: Your patient and methodological approach to gathering information is precisely what allows you to excel in your position. You set your own schedule, define your own terms for success, and share your findings only as soon as you’re ready to.
Your professional nightmare: You are left to complete a series of complex and quickly-shifting tasks with extremely vague instructions. You have no way of seeking guidance, but if you fail to deliver what your boss expects at the end of each week, you’re fired.
Your professional dream: You are being trained by a plethora of credible experts who have reached the top of their field through extensive education and analysis. The more you communicate what you learn, the more educated and analytical the general population becomes.
Your professional nightmare: Every change you want to implement requires you to jump through fifteen bureaucratic hoops. Taking initiative is frowned upon and the average wait time between conceptualizing a project and getting started on it is 6-12 months.
Your professional dream: Your job is to seek out and share exciting opportunities around the world. The more attention your work gathers, the more optimistic and joyful the general population becomes—realizing they, too, can create joyful and abundant lives for themselves.
Your professional nightmare: You are tasked with responding to the menial concerns of entitled and condescending clients. Your job depends upon you receiving positive reviews—so you must continuously coddle and suck up to each of them.
Your professional nightmare: You are at the core of a large-scale social movement that is empowering people to step into their power and challenge injustice in the world. Corrupt institutions are finally being held accountable for their wrongdoings and you are helping the underdogs of the world to thrive.
Your professional nightmare: Your work environment is volatile and explosive. At any point in time, you may suddenly find yourself in the middle of a conflict that requires an aggressive response. Any attempt at mediation only escalates the tension.
Your professional dream: Your ability to understand and empathize with various perspectives is recognized as a crucially important skill. You are able to infuse diplomacy into the most challenging of conflicts by leading participants to see and appreciate each other’s points of view.
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