Balancing Passion And Self-Control

Finding the right mix for a successful career

Patrice L. Hill, a human resources benefits administrator in the container industry, wanted to make her goals a reality. In her 30s, the Columbus, Ohio, resident constructed a five-year plan that included obtaining her bachelor’s degree in accounting. Hill’s social life and fervor for traveling took a back seat to long hours and studying. The result was a degree in accounting with a minor in human resource management.

In an analysis of corporate personality types, Hill would be described as “self-controlled.” These individuals realize that sacrifice and delayed gratification may be necessary to reach their ultimate goals. At the other end of the employee personality spectrum are the “passionate” individuals — the zealous, creative, and innovative. Companies find benefits in both types.

“It is important to understand self-control as a trait of personal discipline,” explains Joe Watson, CEO of StrategicHire, a Virginia-based diversity consulting firm, and author of the upcoming book Without Excuses. “One must have discipline to accomplish anything significant, whether it is the 100-meter dash in the Olympics or leading a company.”

On the other hand, companies equate passion with loyalty. Employees who are seen as having exuberance for their job and who visibly care about the company and its products are more likely to be rewarded with prime opportunities.

But employees who develop a balance between the two will accelerate the advancement of their careers. According to Marlon D. Cousin, managing partner for The Marquin Group, an Atlanta-based executive search firm, companies are looking for both — “passion, creativity, and skills to create ideas, but you have to follow through and drive the idea.” Employers need visionaries, but they want people who can also articulate the vision, put together an idea, create a strategic plan, and lead it through the company. Cousin emphasizes that those who maintain this balance during times of crisis show true fortitude. When a company is struggling, the balanced employee manages current problems, while still remaining strategic and focused about future goals.

ACHIEVE THE RIGHT BALANCE
If you are self-controlled: Evaluate your career to determine if you are doing something you love. Many people who live by diligence and sacrifice have no real passion for their work and eventually realize they have sacrificed too much. Watson says it is important for employees to identify whether it is the company or their position in the company that is causing the lack of zeal. If it is the role, talk to your manager or supervisor about expanding or redesigning your position. If a change is not possible, seriously consider leaving. There are career counselors and personality assessments who can point you toward the right career.

If you are passionate: Determine the success factors of your department and cultivate your skill set to that model. Doing this will require building your network and a team of mentors who will be instrumental in giving you pointed direction on achieving your goals. Identify any behavioral traits you have that fail to meet company expectations and work to improve them one at a time. List long-term goals

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