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Don’t Build Your Future Based On Your Kolbe Score

Lost and Confused SignpostDeciding on your future career/business is a very important decision.I do not believe it should be left in someone else’s -anyone else’s hands but yours. Yes, I know it is a monumental task deciding on how you are going to spend a good portion of your life. It can be confusing, frustrating and exasperating. And despite that, there is no one that knows you as well as you do.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need help. Most people – myself included – have a hard time seeing ourselves as we truly are. You must know people who think they work well with others but the rest of the team is often irritated with this individual. Or perhaps you are familiar with that person who believes he is a leader because he gives orders to others but others can see that he lacks many leadership skills. A coach is there not to tell you what to do but to bring the best out of you.

Psychometrics is a branch of psychology that measures and classifies different human traits and performances. It helps with understanding personality, motivation and how people think and learn best. There are achievement tests, skill aptitude tests, personality tests and career aptitude tests. Achievement tests like the MCAT and  LSAT, are used to screen potential candidates for certain graduate programs.

Skill aptitude tests (eg, Kolbe A® questionnairesIndex; Simmons Personal Survey) measure things such as numeracy, literacy, problem-solving skills and people’s responses in different scenarios to determine their ability to work in a specific environment. They test attributes including reaction to conflict, interpersonal skills and ability to follow instructions. HR professionals often use these tests in the hiring process. They are also popular with entrepreneurs to evaluate what business they should start or focus on.

Personality tests (eg, DISC; The Big Five factors) can be used to determine how well a potential candidate will fit into the culture of an organization as well as evaluating potential leadership traits. However they shouldn’t determine your direction of in life.

(Side note: One of the most popular personality tests is the Myers-Briggs or MBTI. It was inspired by Jungian psychotherapy but unfortunately has never been rigorously researched or tested.)

Career Interest Tests (eg, Holland’s Codes; Strong Interest Inventory) are supposed to help individuals by using questions that tap into their experiences, talents and interests to create a composite profile, which is then matched to a type of job, work environment or field of study. However interests are not passions. None of these get to the person’s deepest feelings, passions and life purpose, which I focus on in my program. In comparison , these tests scrape the surface of someone’s true purpose in life.

There are also several other problems with relying too heavily on psychometric tests to determine your career direction. One is that they are often not individualistic enough. Many of the answers on the test are compared to the database of norms in which the test was developed and tested. So your answers are directly affected by the people who were used to develop the test in the first place. The more your culture, background and/or behaviours differ significantly from the population that was used to create the test, the more the results will not be specifically related to you and the less useful the test will be.

Another potential problem with these tests is that some individuals may give answers they think are what is expected or “the better ones” rather than being honest about their own abilities, interests and preferences. This is often subconsciously driven and the person taking the test may be totally unaware of this bias. When looking for your Dream business it needs to be emphasized that the best choice is the one that best matched your TRUE SELF. I have worked with people from the whole spectrum of industries and I have found the happiest and most fulfilled ones are the ones who understood their passions best. In effect, you should be comparing yourself with yourself (your past passions, interests, natural talents) and not with anyone else.

A lot of these tests help people find out how they work best. That can apply to people who are very good and talented at many things. But it still does not answer the key question of what you are going to use your talents to do. For example, let’s say you take a few tests and discover that you work best in small groups, you like to bounce ideas off of others before making a decision and you are show your enthusiasm with ease. In what area will you use those traits? Empowering women’s groups in spiritual retreats? In starting a new clothing line that brings out people’s personalities? Being a brand for a new nutritional magazine? That all depends on where your passions lie.

Dream careersI am not saying there is no point in psychometric tests. These tests are useful in measuring things like leadership traits, how well you work with others, job-related emotional stability, behavioral tendencies eg, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, dominance, influence and steadiness, to name a few.

It can also be of benefit to a business when hiring. By comparing individual results to a baseline, candidates can be evaluated for job, team, and culture fit.

Let me illustrate with a few examples…

At different times over the past few years, Mike, Barbara and Kurt came to me for help. Mike and Barbara felt unfulfilled and frustrated working in their respective jobs, while Kurt had just completed an undergraduate degree in a field he was pressured to complete because of promises of job security but was never truly passionate about. Here is a short description of each person…

Mike – disorganized, right-brained, likes to work in small groups, quirky and funny, enjoyed studying behaviours of people.

Barbara – methodical, anxious, cautious, likes to work alone, moved deeply by social injustices, took a job for security while dabbling in making films in her off-time.

Kurt – perfectionistic, calculating, left brained, likes to work in small groups and alone, confused, musical, has many interests, loves to explore and travel, interested in cultural history.

After working with me, it became clear

that each had a passion for making films.

Three people – all with very different personalities. A disservice would have been done if these differing personality traits and emotional and behavioural styles were used to guide them in different directions. They all wanted to make films but they wanted to make totally different kinds of films.

Psychometric tests would have probably revealed that each has strong individual thinking tendencies and relatively more introverted than extroverted, but that would have created a long list of potential careers.

Using my approach, each of these people were able to discover where their true passions lay – Mike loved humourous scripts, Barbara had a keen interest in exploring social injustices and Kurt had a driving passion to narrate historical events in a unique way. Their unique passion was the key to guiding their future. Film was the medium through which they chose to explore those passions.

Like this? Then leave a comment below.

And if you want to learn more about how to find your own future work path, go to:

Live Your Dreams,

Sam Gerstein, Career Coach & Author














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