Advice for misfits

April 2, 2012 | By | Reply More

I just finished reading Susan Cain’s excellent new book about and for introverts (I posted my review of her book in the comments here).  In this post, I’d like to highlight simple yet powerful advice she offered in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. She provided this test in the context of introverts, but this test applies to everyone who feels like a misfit at work.

Ms. Cain was an attorney who struggled in the field of law, finding herself deprecating her own efforts and abilities because they didn’t match up to the extroverts at the firm. Eventually, she started forcing herself to listen better; people were telling her that she was a actually a skilled negotiator, not inept. One reason for the compliments is that she invited lots of feedback from the participants. She started recognizing that her introversion gave her many advantages as a lawyer.

But she kept asking herself whether she was a good “fit” for her job, mainly due to her exhaustion trying to keep up with the social end of her job, including the constant pressure to hang out with co-workers after work, to “have a drink.” Was she in the right career? If not, what was the right “fit”? Here are three questions that lead her to change her career:.

First, think back to what you loved to do when you were a child.

Second, pay attention to the work you gravitate to.

Third, pay attention to what you envy.

These strike me as excellent tests, and they make me wonder how many of us are well suited for our jobs?

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Category: Psychology Cognition

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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