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I’m 22 and sitting in one of many orientation sessions for my first full-time job out of college.
The training instructor, a really nice guy who I’ll refer to as Marty, was having us watch a video about coming to work with a positive, can-do attitude.
The video was about people who tossed fish for a living. And weirdly, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen it.
I remember watching it in my high school English class when I was a freshman, too. In short, it’s about the hardworking people employed at the famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle.
Their job is cold, wet, long, and not to mention, smelly. It’s also a job done in front of an audience, given the hundreds of tourists who pass through every day.
There’s every reason that you’d have a less-than-stellar attitude about a fish-hauling job, but that’s the point of this video — they don’t. They’re all happy and cheerful, and they’ve created a fun spectacle of tossing fish from place to place as they work. The way they do their job has become part of the attraction of the market.
Anyway, this training video is produced by some company that clearly wanted to create an experience for students, new hires, and anyone else who might need an inspiring lesson about their attitude.
So at the end, everyone gets a plush stuffed fish to remind them of the moral of the story.
As Marty handed us our fish (this would be my second stuffed fish, though who knows where the high school fish ended up), he said:
“I keep my fish on my desk at all times, to remind me that you can always choose to be positive and happy at work!”
Bless Marty’s heart. He was (and I’m sure continues to be) such a sweet guy. But let’s be honest …
That damned fish wasn’t going to convince me to be happy in this new job.
What I’d started to fear during my orientation, and what became clear very quickly once I started my new job, was that I wasn’t like everyone else.
I didn’t like my job, and I never did. From day one I was unengaged and faking all of my energy and enthusiasm. And the thought I kept thinking was this:
“Is there something wrong with ME? Or is there something wrong with this job?”
It took me YEARS to figure out why I wasn’t happy at that job (or any job that came after). And now, I want to share with you what I wish Marty would have known during my orientation all those years ago.
THE BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT
Usually I save the point until the end, but this time I’m skipping ahead to tell you the bottom line.
After years of job hopping — and never being satisfied by any job I had — and then becoming a coach, Kristen and I figured something out that SO few people are talking about:
Not everyone is meant to work the same way, and that’s why I was so unhappy for years.
But let’s back up and show you how I came to that conclusion.
At first, you’ll assume that your unhappiness is caused by your job. You’re just not excited about it or interested enough, and you’re convinced you’ll be satisfied when you find a better job. So you hop from job to job, hoping the next one will be the “the one.”
Eventually, after this doesn’t work time and time again, you’ll start making an even worse assumption:
“What if I’M the problem? What if I’ll never like ANY job?”
But here’s the truth. The majority of the time, the reason you’re unhappy is NEITHER. Your job isn’t necessarily to blame, and neither are you.
SO WHAT’S THE REAL PROBLEM?
Often the problem isn’t what you’re doing but how you’re doing it.
Do you remember taking the Passion Profile Quiz? If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you took it when you first discovered Clarity on Fire.
The reason so many people, you included, resonated with your result is because it gave you clarity about HOW you’re meant to work, which is something very few people will talk to you about.
Not everyone is meant to work the same way. We all have different values around time, money, and passion. The way in which we want those 3 major values to combine is our Passion Profile. And if you’re in a job that doesn’t fit your Profile, you will feel constantly dissatisfied and have no idea why.
Here’s the quick breakdown of the 4 Passion Profiles:
FIRESTARTERS — The people who value freedom above all else. They deeply desire to get paid to do something they’re passionate about. They love autonomy, and can have a hard time working on behalf of someone else’s mission (because they want to work on their own mission). They can easily resent being told when they have to work, what they have to do, and how much money they can make. They’re more comfortable with risk and pretty entrepreneurial.
TRIBE MEMBERS — The people who value connection above all else. Like Firestarters, they really want to get paid to do something they’re passionate about. But unlike Firestarters, they don’t necessarily want to be a lone wolf. Instead, their idea of a fulfilling career is one where they can support a mission they believe in while being part of a healthy, open, and collaborative team. They value stability and security, so they tend to be a bit more risk-averse. They’re happy to work for other people, and they’ll give you their all … so long as they feel valued.
THRIVERS — The people who value enjoyment above all else. Thrivers are the only people who would prefer NOT to combine their work with their passion because it can put pressure on the thing they enjoy and drain it of its intrinsic value. Instead, they prefer to have a day job that they feel good at, work with a team they like being around, and pursue their passion in their free time. They’re OK working for someone else because they value stability and security, so long as they can “clock out” at a decent hour and have plenty of time to pursue fun and enjoyment outside of work. They’ll often (wrongly) judge themselves for not “caring enough” about their job.
SIDE HUSTLERS — The people who value variety above all else. Side Hustlers are often energizer bunnies who crave a lot of stimulation at work. They like to combine work with passion in some way, be it in their “day job” or on the side. They’re the most multi-passionate of the four profiles and will get bored if they’re not constantly growing, learning, and evolving. They really value flexibility, and can be more accepting of risk. They might be happy with a traditional job that provides them a lot of stimulation, or they might cobble together a career from multiple sources. Either way can work for them.
I HATED EVERY JOB I HAD BECAUSE I’M A FIRESTARTER
It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d been in the perfect job. I could have worked for Google or some other rad place with slides and nap pods and free food all day … and I still wouldn’t have enjoyed it.
As a Firestarter, I was always going to resent being told what to do with my time, how much money I could make, and what I “should” be excited about.
I wanted to be in control of my own time and creativity. And no job could give me that … so I made my own. And that’s where I finally found happiness.
So if something feels “off” with your job, or if you’ve job hopped and could never find anything that deeply satisfied you … consider that you might be in a job that doesn’t suit your Passion Profile.
It’s not necessarily what you’re doing, it’s how you’re doing it.
A Tribe Member will have a hard time being happy in a cube farm where everyone is supposed to keep their head down and plug away on their own.
A Side Hustler will be completely unsatisfied in jobs that don’t invest in their professional growth.
A Thriver will probably want to pull their hair out if they work 60-hour weeks.
You and your job might be chronically incompatible. And that’s not your fault.
Rachel (& Kristen)