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WHY SOME MAKE IT AND OTHERS DON'T

By Vlad Dimitrov

T

here is always a spot for new

millionaires and clever thinkers at the top of the market ladder. There is an empty seat next to the country's richest and most affluent household names like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. The only problem is wading though the fog filled, angry-manager infested, long and dreary swamp that lays on the path to the coveted chair. In a way, everyone is out to put their tush down and take the seat; we all have champagne dreams and caviar aspirations, but the statistics reflect the reality: very few individuals ever get to take that seat. The question with the elusive answer is “Why?” What makes some individuals more likely to succeed at jobs and get to the top levels in their company and why are others always stuck behind, working in a 6x6? Years of ongoing psychological and longitudinal studies may now have an answer, or at least a small piece of it. Thorough personality research, done by Timothy Judge, shows that there are three main factors that individuals in leadership and advanced positions share: -extroversion,

-conscientiousness -an ability to control their emotions. These personality factors come from the Five Factor Model Test which gives you a score on each of the five factors. You can take one of these here. or you can pay an outrageous sum of money for a guy in a lab coat to tell you something that you probably already know. In either case, it would be useful to know where you stand, at least in the psychologists eyes. But while these can seem pretty obvious, the rabbit hole goes deeper than that. As individuals we are generally confused as to how to go about this type of information. “What does it mean for me if these top level executives are organized and timely?” And sometimes when we want to finally look ourselves in the mirror and say “No more!”, its harder than it should be or we take the wrong fork in the road, This can happen because the reasoning behind these traits can be different than what a lot of us presume. Firstly, conscientious people are meticulous and very thorough, they're orderly and stick to their schedules. However, this is mostly useful at the beginning stages of employment, when the management hires the new employees to do the grunt work. So if you can survive those first two years or so without getting bogged down and burred in reports and manilla folders, you have a good chance at a promotion. You don't need to restructure your whole life with color-coded sticky-note reminders at every corner; you just need to stay organized enough at work for that initial time frame. When you move up to a higher position, your job becomes more focused and while that requires more expertise, its less of that manual grunt work. You have the new hires to do that job for you now! Extroversion is perhaps the most mistaken trait in terms of why people with this characteristic get better jobs, more pay and excellent positions. Some believe that its because extroverts are natural charmers. They talk to a lot of people, know how to make friends and get people to feel all buttery inside; that they use this


to cast a spell on the interviewer and get a job. While that may be true to an extent, it's not why extroverts are higher on the scale of career success. It actually has to do with their social circle. They simply know more people. And the more people you know, the more chances you have of someone offering a great managerial job to you (their close friend!) than to someone they have only talked to for an hour with a form of questions. Extroverts are like the guys with the orange hard hats that stand at the opening of the mine and say “Go dig!” Someone may just come back with a gold bar. For this piece of the puzzle, advice is harder to give. A productive social circle takes time, but it's not impossible. Being good at networking is an acquired skill and it doesn't have to be a hard one. Using websites like Facebook and Linkedin make it even easier so get in touch with old friends and get some new contacts. If you're in the initial stages of your work experience, you have a couple years to wait anyways so it's never too late to start building your connections for the future. Lastly, the ability to control feelings, good or bad, is referred to as neuroticism. In our culture today, that word holds a pretty negative connotation; we wouldn't call the president that but the guy on the street who yells at himself when he sees his reflection in the window of Panera is fitting. With a psychological view point, especially if you like Freud, everyone is a little neurotic. We all have irrational tendencies to think too much, to stick to routines and what not. But neurotics are actually a pretty good fit for the business and high-risk, high reward world. Just look at Warren Buffet, he's one of the richest men in the world, and he still lives in the same small house in Omaha that he bought in 1958 for 30K. Or the Thai Prime Minister who made his daughter work at McDonalds so she could learn the value of money. Neurotics are ruled by emotion and often make rushed and gut-feeling decisions, but sometimes that's what needs to be done when others are sitting in their chairs with the crotch of their thumbs on their chins. So don't fret if you're not quite all together up there, that may just give you the perspective

that others are lacking. If you want to implement this into your daily life and possibly your professional routine, think “Yes Man”. Don't pass on opportunities that present themselves like to go along on a trip, or to take a demanding project. Don't hesitate to pitch that weird idea you had in the shower this morning or to follow your gut on the next sale. It may yield a greater pot of gold on the other side of the rainbow. But if we take a look at the world and how big business and jobs are structured, there emerges a scary reality. There are much less CEOs, managers and Buffet's than there are every day workers. For companies to work, this must be the case. A company with sixty bosses and no workers will probably get no where. So does this mean that those of us who do not like to go out on the weekend and make friends will be stuck in the cubicle for the rest of our lives? What about those of us who's rooms are a mess and once something goes in, it's never found again? The good news is that that doesn't have to be the case. Freud may have believed that everyone's personality is set by age six, but modern psychologists believe that its fluid and it can change, albeit with some effort. Positive psychology founder Mihaliy Csikszentmihalyi firmly believes that complete happiness is possible within one's lifetime by a change in their personality, actions and mental state. He founded a whole new area of study in Claremont University in California, to research ways for individuals to change habits and improve the quality of their life. He gave a TED talk on the subject in 2004 which, in part, deals with workplace satisfaction and salary. If this is not your type of life therapy, you can simply accept that this is research on a mass scale. It shows trends and correlations but no causation. There certainly are people out there with messy rooms, daily temper tantrums and tendencies to sit in the dark for days, who control million dollar companies. This is not set in stone, so read this with a grain of salt. This is America, anyone can make it. And for those of us who are extroverted, conscientious and just the right amount of neurotic, I have only one thing to say: “Go dig!”

Why Some Make it And Others Don't  

A blog post I wrote that explains and gives some tips about why some people succeed in business and becomes CEOs and others are stuck workin...

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