Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How to Choose the Right Career? - The Designer, The Executive, the Judge*

Why do so many people who fail in school succeed in life, and vice versa?,” asked Sternberg.

The four worst years of my life were spent in one of the (supposedly) best universities of Pakistan. A begrudging student, I managed to remain in the top tier of class – and always wondered why I felt I was underscoring my own potential? The best MBA school – a dream for many – so why was I unhappy?

Admittedly, my end of university years would only have been through some unpleasant accident (my fantasies involve ill-treating The System in several unsavory ways) had it not been that I wriggled my way and charmed the teachers into allowing me to undertake “unusual assignments.” So I focused on service management in the Product Management class (service = wedding consultant) and toted weapons and missiles as a dramatized sales person in the Personal Selling class presentation. Yes, I wore a leather jacket, and jeans, and did the whole James Bond thing.  

But I never really understood my own behavior and the whole misfit thing until I read this article by Robert J. Sternberg on

This article, How to Choose the Right Career?, shows that people are basically of three types:

  1. the legislative – the designers, the creative, the dreamers

  2. the executive – the action-oriented, the quick, the result-oriented, the practical

  3. and the judicial – the critics, the judges

The education system is designed solely around the behavior and the needs of the executive – these are people who do not question the system. They fit in, and they perform. The System, sadly, is biased against the creative and the critical – who are deemed rebellious or simply eccentric.

We all know of the variety of humiliations that such gifted children face, because as a child, many of us had a creative and a critical part in us that was “educated out.”

It was around four years ago that I read this article. I understood that as a person concerned with the question of design and criticism, I was on both the unattended ends of the educational spectrum. No wonder I felt “the gap.”

Sternberg’s theory opened a whole door of educational theory and the reality of the beautiful diversity life on my mind. It asks us to embrace the inherent diversity of existence, and respect the human nature – which as much if not more varied than the nature of flora and fauna.

I owe, in part, the development of the People-Centered Model of Business to this theory, which allowed me to respect myself as a “different” individual, and respect other misfits.

* Updated/ Tweaked

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