Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Horror Highway :-)

I am a huge fan of gothic/horror flicks. It’s not the blood and gore that appeals to me. In fact, I find that the less blood and gore a horror flick displays, the scarier it is. Why? Because I believe psychological fear is stronger than fear brought about by what we can see.

So how does my liking the horror genre relate to INFP/ADHD career matters? Well, ten years ago, while still in University, I took a mandatory English course. In one assignment, we were required to write a short story that begun with the words: "The night was impenetrably dark." I called my short story Horror Highway.

Ten years down the line, I came across a quote that I feel explains the real reason why I like horrors and, that gave me some insight as to why I wrote Horror Highway. Heather Anne Wozniak in Sites of Disturbance: The Gothic in Electronic Literature writes that: "...the gothic expresses the anxieties of the particular cultural moment in which it is produced...."

Reading Horror Highway ten years down the road, I believe that I was expressing anxiety regarding my future career. At the time of writing the story, I already knew that I wanted to pursue a career in writing. Yet there I was, stuck in University, getting a degree in International Business Administration!

Horror Highway is about dead-ends and going round in circles. For some people, that doesn’t sound like good material for a horror masterpiece. But for an INFP (with maybe some ADD tendencies!), being stuck doing the same uninteresting thing over and over again is the scariest scenario; a definite Horror Highway!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dreaming big

Today in a staff meeting my boss was talking about some conference he went to, about rubbing shoulders with some sort of entrepreneurs or something. It reminded me once again how frustrating careers are to me.

From early on, when society decided to brand me "smart" or gifted or a high academic achiever or whatever, I've always felt that I'd been given a gift by God. Therefore I've always wanted to use it responsibly for whatever "big purpose" God intended.

You'd think by now life experience would have taught me the folly of looking for such bigness, that knowing three or four people enough to really influence the course of their lives is really the biggest thing one can aspire to. But that just seems so.... hard to pin down.

I can't escape the feeling that I'm just frittering my life away. I'm 35, really middle-aged now, and I haven't accomplished a damn thing yet. (Well, at least I'm not miserable in my day-to-day any longer.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The "P" in INFP stands for "Perfection"

Until very recently, when I came across Robert Kiyosaki’s "Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant", I was completely content with my career. As a freelance writer, I am my own boss. I don’t have to deal with daily traffic jams, rigid working hours and psychotic bosses.

So imagine my surprise when I read similar words in Kiyosaki’s book. He writes that the self-employed are: "People who want to ‘Be their own boss.’ Or they like to: ‘Do their own thing.’ I call this group the ‘do-it-yourselfers.’" I must admit, this is a very accurate description of me!

I was rather disturbed when I read that Kiyosaki thinks we in the "S" (Self-employed) quadrant are governed by fear, just like the people in the "E" (Employee) quadrant. He writes: "So while the 'E' or employee often will respond to the fear of not having money by seeking "security", the 'S' often will respond...not by seeking security, but by taking control of the situation and doing it on their own." Aaaaah yes. Control. Incidentally, says this about INFPs: "In group situations, they may have a 'control' problem." also says that the INFPs "have very high standards and are perfectionists." Kiyosaki writes: "Self-employed people are often hard-core 'perfectionists'. They often want to do something exceptionally well." Kiyosaki goes on to say that "In their mind, they do not think anyone else does it better than they can do it, so they really do not trust anyone else to do it the way they like it...the way they think is the ‘right way’". says INFPs "may have problems working on a project in a group, because their standards are likely to be higher than other members of the group."

So what is so bad about being in the "E" or "S" quadrant? Kiyosaki gives us the answer: "Most of us have heard that the secrets to great riches and wealth are 1)OPT – Other People’s Time 2) OPM – Other People’s Money. OPT and OPM are found in the right side of the quadrant." This right side of the quadrant is occupied by B (business owners) and I (investors). Kiyosaki goes on to say that "For the most part, people who work in the left side of the Quadrant are the OP (Other People) whose time and money are being used." Ouch and double ouch!!!

Kiyosaki gives a very good reason why I, as someone in the "S" quadrant, should be seriously thinking of moving into the "B" and "I" quadrants: "One of the drawbacks of being a successful "S" is that success simply means more hard work...good work results in more hard work and longer hours." for thought. In order to move to the B and I quadrants, I need to get rid of my perfectionist tendencies. After all, no one’s perfect. Not even me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

We got links, oh yeah

Lately I've come upon a few sites or items that are more or less related to the subject matter of this site and that I think are worth sharing here.

The greatest discovery by far is The Daily WTF. Perhaps it's just that misery loves company, but I find it therapeutic to read about other dysfunctional projects and organizations. Morever, from hearing enough of these stories I start to think in terms of antipatterns, and from there to have a clearer idea how to tell what sorts of work environments I'd like to avoid. Familiarity with the antipatterns would also be helpful to managing one's own organization, but I don't expect ever to be in a position to manage anything other than myself. Still, I wish all those "pointy-haired bosses" out there would read sites like the Daily WTF, although almost without fail they lack the humility to do anything other than chuckle that their shop doesn't run like that.

I should warn that some but not all the posts require some technical expertise to get the "WTF". Even without the ones with code examples, hopefully that site keep you amused for hours on end like it does for me.

What led me to the WTF was a mention in the comments on this thread on Skills vs. Aptitude at Kevin Drum's Political Animal. Some of the comments on that thread's pretty interesting; so's the underlying post on Naked Capitalism about downsized financial workers struggling to make ends meet.

And of course this part got my attention:

Bond salesmen and traders are trying everything from bartending to real-estate sales to make insurance and tuition payments for their families, Maloney said.

``I know a few guys that started gambling, playing poker to pay the bills,'' he said. ``Especially ex-traders.''

So that's why the $1-3 no-limit games are tougher these days.

As to the issue of transferable skills, I've always thought that the managers and organizations who value them most are the ones with the self-confidence not to worry that some hire will be unfairly judged "wrong" leading to the manager getting swept out the door too. In other words, it's a lot easier to CYA if you can point to a failed six-month search for an candidate whose resume exactly matches the list of 74 keywords you put in the job description. But good companies know that smart people can learn a variety of subject matter.

Maybe one day I'll work for a good company.

I have some more links about management and hiring that are interesting to me, but I think I'll share them at a later time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The "N" in INFP stands for Navel-gazing! :-)

I found...the tone of your writings too self-centered” wrote Tom of Dare2Believe. Well, Tom of Dare2Believe, welcome to an INFP’s world!

According to Personality Page ( , an INFP’s primary mode of living is “focused internally.” We deal with things according to how WE feel about them, or how they fit into OUR personal value system. Our primary goal is to find out OUR meaning in life, OUR purpose and how WE can best serve humanity in our lives. So yes, we INFPs are rather self-absorbed. :-)

My answer to the question “What content here would be most helpful to fellow INFPs and other assorted career-misfits?” is: content that encourages us to navel-gaze some more!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Getting away from navel-gazing

A few weeks ago in a thread on GlobalChatter I asked for some INFP-oriented feedback about this blog. It's a little disappointing that only one person, the thread-starter, actually jumped in. However, that feedback that Tom of Dare2Believe provided was very valuable:

I found... the tone of your writings too self-centered.

Unsure if people care about our lives enough to invest in frequent trips to a blog to read more. I think blogs need to be about the reader, not the writer.
This is great advice, and I've been vaguely aware that this site's archive reads
like a whining session. So Tom's comments were great to actually propel me to action and force me to come to terms with something I knew to be true.

Now, it's easiest to write about one's own experiences, but that doesn't mean it's most beneficial. At times it may be beneficial, when my experience connects to broader themes and patterns that may apply to others. But it's still good to have other sources of content too.

So I'd like to throw open the question: What content here would be most helpful to fellow INFPs and other assorted career-misfits?

One simple way to get going is to stay up to date on other career-oriented blogs, big ones, and perhaps adapt the concepts there to our specific needs as INFPs/etc. I've already quoted from Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist a couple of times, because she writes some good stuff. But it's dangerous to treat any such advice as one-size-fits-all.

In Five signs that your career is about to get vapid she makes some really good points, and some others that in my mind require a little adaptation:

  1. The generalist/specialist topic is a great one. We INFPs/etc. have a tendency to have a lot of interests, and that makes it hard to specialize on any one for any length of time. I think having lots of interests is fine, but specialization is valuable too. For example, back when I was subcontracting, I got stuck on a project that the guy I was subcontracting for never should have picked up, involving a technology none of us knew. We ended up hiring a consultant who gets $100 or more to work with this system. So when you need his expertise, you really need it, and are presumably willing to pay for it.

    So specialization is great. So what's the INFP to do? Well, you can specialize but still develop a diverse, composite career. First of all, as Trunk points out, finding your specialty means trying out a lot of diverse things:
    Usually you will pick wrong. So what? Keep trying. When I was trying to figure out what I was great at, I wrote a lame novel, I pitched stupid articles to Marie Claire and I got dumped as a feature writer for an alternative Weekly. This is how I learned that I should be writing career advice.
    Moreover, it seems to me that you can have a composite career, working on two or three projects at once, but still have each of those advancing your niche in the specific field. For example, I can play poker 20 hours a week, specializing in learning how to beat live $2-5 no-limit hold 'em, but also write code for 30 hours a week, specializing in using PHP frameworks to develop more efficiently for the Web.
  2. Book deal.... hmmm. We tend to like to write, but I agree that this shouldn't be all-consuming and I agree that sharing your ideas on a blog is more valuable. Is aiming for a book deal still a common temptation?
  3. This one's a little tricky. Like many INFPs I believe pursuing a romantic relationship just to have one is idiotic. So I've tended to have fewer of these than most people my age. Nevertheless, she makes a good point about "looking at yourself through someone else’s eyes." But I think we tend to be empathetic and hypersensitive so we can probably accomplish that through friendships or other relationships more easily than most.
  4. Do any INFPs/etc. lack strong opinions? My problem is finding situations where I don't have strong opinions, where I can keep my mouth shut and say, "Yes, boss!" and not care that what I'm doing is totally unengaging.
  5. Well, I don't know if many of us think career advice is stupid. We definitely should be MBTI intuitive, which means we don't make career decisions in isolation but try to plan them out to aim for a positive pattern. Therefore, a particular piece of career advice may be good, bad, or indifferent; but the process of planning one's career is certainly an important one to INFPs. Presumably if you're reading these words, you see value in thinking about career stuff.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The story behind the glory

Hello. My name is Mildred Achoch. I am a full-time, freelance writer.

I love my job. Not many Kenyans can say that. Over fifty percent of my compatriots live below the poverty line. For them, a job is not an avenue for self-actualization; it is the avenue to survival.

Two factors allowed me to totally disregard survival in favour of self-actualization. First, I am blessed with a caring and relatively well-off family, family here including the extended family and ‘well-off’ meaning that we have never gone to bed hungry. Oh there were some close calls but thankfully, things never got to be very bad.

The second factor is that I am an INFP.

Family and an INFP personality played a key role in my turbulent path towards my dream job. For over five years, I have kept under lock and key my struggles as an aspiring writer in a developing country; a developing country that is full of people who view writing as a hobby, not a career. Today, I share with you an (edited) excerpt from my journal that details the story behind the glory of being a writer.

Look out for INFP-related words such as 'feelings' and 'depression'. And yes, there is a touch of melodrama! So come, take a peek into my past.