Getting Unstuck

I read an entire book while waiting for election results last week. The book is called Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Discovering Your Next Career Path and is written by the Director of Career Development at Harvard Business School – Dr. Timothy Butler.

All newly admitted students to HBS have to take Tim’s psychometric evaluation before starting classes. We receive very detailed reports about our key personality traits, what careers would be a good fit for us, and what weaknesses we should look out for. The school also provided us with a free copy of Getting Unstuck. I promptly filed the report away, used none of it in my post-HBS job search, and did not read the book until last week.

However, I did go to two of Tim’s visioning sessions while at HBS. In the first session, you sit, close your eyes and imagine the details of your life as you are doing whatever it is you were put on this earth to do. You are in your flow. Where are you? Who are you with? What images pop into your mind?

Tim uses the imagery from this exercise along with the results of another included in the book – the 100 jobs exercise where you choose the top 12 jobs you would enjoy doing from a list of 100 – to uncover your lifelong interests and passions. He then distills your deeply embedded interests into ten categories. The three categories you score highest on hold deep truths about who you are and what you should do with your life.

The ten categories are:

  1. Application of Technology (The Engineer): a fascination with technology, systems, processes and how things work.
  2. Quantitative Analysis (The Number Cruncher): understanding the world through mathematical analysis.
  3. Theory Development and Conceptual Thinking (The Professor): needs a steady supply of intellectual challenges to feel fully engaged at work and at home.
  4. Creative Production (The Artist): blank page creativity, wary of being trapped in routine, needs to be involved in something “new” whenever possible.
  5. Counseling and Mentoring (The Coach): finds meaning in relationships and interpersonal concerns, very likely to volunteer.
  6. Managing People and Relationships (the Team Leader): works with groups of people as manager, director, or supervisor.
  7. Enterprise Control (The Boss): interested in decision-making authority for complete operations.
  8. Influence Through Language and Ideas (The Persuader): the desire to persuade and influence through oral or written communication with others.
  9. Hands-On Problem Solving (The Action Hero): interested in roles that require action, adventure, and physical activity – strives to be seen as an accomplished master in chosen area.
  10. Ordering Information (The Organizer): attentive to detail, organizes and manages information.

I scored the highest on Influencing through Language and Ideas, and Creative Production. My third highest score went to The Professor – Theory Development and Conceptual Thinking. After going through the exercises in the book, I realized that the Professor had been the dominant interest in my life throughout college and business school. I developed strong skills in mathematics and quantitative analysis, not because I am a Number Cruncher by nature, but because I craved the intellectual challenge of mastering subjects that did not come naturally to me.

My second realization was that I have not given enough attention to my need for Creative Production and to Influence through Language and Ideas. These two interests have pushed their way through and forced my hand, becoming the driving forces behind my decision to become a freelancer and write a book.

There’s so much more that I want to write about this book, but I’m way over my word count limit already. Tim deals with issues such as becoming demotivated, breaking through impasse, and finding your flow. If you feel that you should be doing something with your life that uses more of your talents, but have no idea where you true passions lie, then I highly recommend this book for you! Buy it using my Amazon affiliate link: Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Discovering Your Next Career Path.

6 thoughts on “Getting Unstuck”

  1. Thanks for Sharing Lisandra! I will definitely be getting this book. I definitely can relate with feeling the need to give more attention to my Creative Production – something that I strive to release yet feel a more concerted effort needs to be made – never seems like enough time in a day 🙂

  2. I need to read this book. First year of college and I’m feeling like I’m nowhere close to discovering what I want to do. Being indecisive is detaching me from loving the academic college experience. Surely,the hardest thing is stepping off the linear path because it just seems like a safe bet in what so many people believe to be harsh economic times.

    1. Hey Alex! Another book I read called “The Science of Getting Rich” says that if anyone can make money during harsh economic times, you can too. You just have to fix your mind on what you are giving in return for that money and work doggedly to execute on it. If there is no passion behind it, this kind of work will be excruciating. College is the perfect time to figure out what you love so much that you can do it 24/7 and it doesn’t feel like work.

  3. Thanks for the reading suggestion and words of advice! Looking forward to your book in the future as well

  4. Thanks for posting this and the ten categories. I ordered this book yesterday, but thought it would be a good idea to get working on it.

    It is never too late to reinvent oneself. One just needs to be determined enough.

Comments are closed.