I recently returned from a four day AKC conformation dog show to which I took my eight year-old niece. While there we heard judges, breeders, handlers and owners talking about dogs’ “type,” “temperament,” and breed “standard.” These conversations felt a world away from my day job — speaking a different language and interacting with equally different, professional people. Listening intently to the conversation, my niece made an intriguing connection. She said, “Lots of these handlers are so much like their dogs. See those agility handlers? They move fast, like their dogs do. And the conformation handlers for the Pugs, see how they walk with short steps and keep their heads up just like the dogs.” With these simple observations, she introduced me to a new dimension of thought related to our professional identities. Out of the mouth of babes as they say.
What does any of this have to do with professionalism or careers? More than you might think. Let’s talk about “type and temperament” for a moment. In the dog show world, “type” stands for a set of characteristics common to a specific breed of dog. Type can include shape, color, coat, etc…basically, type is what makes one breed different from another breed. “Temperament” signifies the personality traits of the various breeds. It is defined by a way of being and reacting.
Are there “types and temperament” in the professional world? There certainly are. For example, sales professionals must have qualities that make them competitive, must possess a high drive for success, as well as an ability to persuade. On the other hand, professional writers must possess the ability to communicate thoughts to a wide variety of audiences and must have mastery of language and a clear understanding of its power. Each profession requires specific characteristics and personality traits for maximum success.
When you are exploring a career shift the key is to know what the standards are for your chosen profession. If I want to know the standards for a breed of dog, I go to the experts. Likewise, if I want to know the standards for type and temperament for a specific profession, I do my research. There are a plethora of resources out there. A great place to start researching a profession is The Career Guide to Industry on the U.S. Department of Labor website. If you have access, check out Plunkett Research for in-depth industry profiles and testimonials of young professionals in the field.
So, do you measure up to others in your chosen profession? Do you look the part? Do you possess the characteristics, the structure, the temperament to perform the duties required? Gain the knowledge and know whether you are competing in a profession in which you meet the standard – for which you have the type and temperament. True success is knowing before entering the ring whether you will be awarded the blue ribbon and eventually earn your professional championship.
Lisa Lambert Snodgrass helps professionals and businesses achieve the next dimension of success. Founder of 4D Perspectives, Lisa is a professional identity coach, career shift specialist, keynote speaker, corporate trainer, and writer.