You’re Fired!
Week Five: Mr. Big Shot, Who Do You Think You Are?

Did you choose your career or did it choose you? Very few of us follow clearly scripted career paths. Somehow, you’re driving through life headed for a career in medicine when – Bam – a passion for cooking jumps out and collides with your plans. At this point, you have two choices. You can ignore your passion and become a malcontent MD. Or, you can replace your stethoscope with a spatula and a chance at happiness. How you make that decision says a lot about your personality, emotional intelligence and your journey through the educational system.

Personalities range from rigid to pliant. Traditional education is designed to meet the needs of only a fraction of the students – usually the most rigid – while the others are left to experience various degrees of failure. However, once in the workforce, star pupils often struggle with businesses needs for flexibility.

There are a number of personality assessments available, many of which offer four main categories. The DISC System is an acronym of descriptive words. Let’s look at the personality styles of some of the Apprentice candidates.

Question Authority

Tim Knapp, CEO of Nextant Systems explains the downfall of the Cautious personality type “People will do the wrong things because that’s what they were told to do.” Knapp doesn’t mean Enron-immoral, he means inefficient. The team and support crew were working hard and dinner time was approaching. Erin, Michael and Stephanie were at Kinko’s so Bren asked them to bring dinner when they returned and “make it good.” Kaboom! These highly educated Apprentices were infuriated to be treated like delivery jocks and they didn’t mince words when they returned with the food. They could have responded to the intent of the request and had food delivered to the team. Instead they exhibited the tunnel vision which traditional education reinforces in the Cautious personality types.

This personality type, often the honor role student, has the most trouble with project-based learning. They can get caught up in the grades game rather than the learning adventure. While they may be successful in school, often hitting those straight fast balls out of the park, life with its curve balls is a different story. Project-based learning can teach the Cautious types to brainstorm, accept various degrees of excellence, meet deadlines and take risks.

You Can Accomplish A Lot If You Don’t Care Who Gets The Credit

One Net Worth team member made the following contributions: 1) Suggested waiting to conduct the business concept brainstorming until they were sitting in the Airstream, 2) Proposed an open casting workshop service, and 3) Stepped in to make calls to casting directors while being coached by fellow team members. Her focus has consistently been on the results. Keep your eye on Tara because she’s a Doer who has learned to balance her need for challenges, choices and control with her team’s need for respect and clarity.

Can’t We All Just Get Along

No one is just one personality type. Depending upon our energy levels, current disposition and comfort with the situation, we will morph between D-I-S-and C. In general, however, we each have one dominant type and one that we find most uncomfortable. According to Theodore Roosevelt, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” How often do we hear about relationships and careers ending badly because of poor people skills? Team based activities can teach us to relate to different personalities.

Regularly incorporating these skills into the educational process allows students to try on other roles and embrace the power of diversity. This learning experience should begin in the early grades and continue throughout the process.

I Only Date Eastern European Women

Traditional classrooms have a word for collaboration. They call it “cheating.” The workplace uses different words including “quality circles” and “teams.” Project-based learning incorporates a combination of individual and team activities directed at a mutual goal. Students have the opportunity to hone their stronger skills, practice those which don’t come as easily and obtain assistance from team members to learn new material.

Effective teams combine the best of the Doer, Inspirational, Supportive and Cautious personality types. Initially it may seem comfortable to join a group of people who are similar to you. What you’ll quickly learn is that this is a recipe for disaster. A group of all Doers will fight for control. Both the Inspirational and Supportive groups will forget the task entirely as the Inspirational team socializes and the Supportive team makes sure everyone is happy and comfortable. The Cautious team will be so busy researching and planning that nothing will be accomplished.

Perhaps Donald Trump reacted to this team dynamic when he heard Michael claiming to be a “mini-Trump.” Michael went so far as to say he only dated Eastern European women. There’s only room for one Donald on Team Trump. “Michael, you’re fired.”

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