At the beginning of my corporate career, team building workshops using personality types were a big thing.
And these workshops were my first indication that I don’t work the same way as everyone else. As an ENFP (Extravert – iNtuitive – Feeling – Perceiving) on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, my personality preferences did not seem to match the norm.
For the most part, I found the 9-5 world extremely frustrating. It just didn’t make sense to me.
The one question I asked myself every morning – “Seriously, why do I have to be at the office before 8:30 AM?”.
It didn’t make sense. There were no meetings scheduled. I didn’t need to collaborate in person with anyone. In fact, no one emerged from their cubicles until at least 10:30.
And I do my best work right after I wake up, sitting in my lazy-boy, drinking my tea. I can get more done between 6 and 9AM than most people get done in a week.
But no. Instead of being super-productive, I was showering, brushing my teeth, getting in my car, and driving for 45 to 90 minutes depending on traffic to get to the office by 8:30 AM. A commute that would have taken 15 minutes if I had left at 9:00 following my peak hours of productivity.
A similar version of the same question would come up at the end of the day as I sat exhausted, staring blankly at my computer screen waiting for 5:00 to come around. The blank stare began at around 4:00 after an hour of internet browsing that could somehow be interpreted as “work-related”.
If I had just left the office at 3:00 (when in reality my brain turned off and I stopped working), I would have been home by 3:15. But instead, I had to endure the 90 minute drive home in rush hour. Just so my bum could be confirmed to be solidly in that seat.
What were my employers thinking? Why was the location of my bum so much more important than how productive I was?
The reality is, they simply had no clue.
My boss, along with most of co-workers had ST (Sensing-Thinking) preferences on the Myers-Briggs.
People like me with the N (Intuitive) preference tend to be more focused on the future, possibilities and innovation. And they tend to work in bursts of energy throughout the day interspersed with down time. They also tend to not like structure and bureaucracy and question rules that don’t make sense to them. Hmmmm…..
On the other hand, people with the S (Sensing) preference are more focused on the here and now, feel that the best way to do things is the way they’ve always been done, believe that rules are there for a reason, and tend to work steadily throughout the day.
And that’s who the 9-5 workplace is designed for.
The Sensors of the world. The steady workers who prefer to work in a structured environment where the rules are in place for a reason. And they make up a reported 85% of the population. Leaving my Intuitive preference in the remaining 15% minority.
No wonder I felt so out of place.
And don’t even let me get started on the Feeling vs. Thinking preference.
As an F (feeling) preference, in addition to not working well in a structured, bureaucratic environment where I was expected to adhere to rules that didn’t make any sense to me, I also needed to feel that what I was DOING for work felt authentic, right and meaningful in some way. And, it wasn’t enough that I knew I was doing good work, I needed to know that my work was making a difference for others as well.
I have spent many a night ruminating over why I could not just force myself to be a T (thinking) preference like my husband. He’s able to go to work, pat himself on the back for doing a good job (who cares if anyone else notices – he knows and that’s what matters), come home and put it completely out of his mind until the next morning. Bliss, I thought.
But the reality is that as much as I want to, I cannot change my personality preferences. I can certainly adjust the way I work to mimic other preferences, but it’s exhausting. I was exhausted for my entire 15 year corporate career.
The Connection Between Your Personality Type and Energy
At the time, I was fascinated by personality types – but I didn’t yet understand the connection between your type preference – and your energy levels.
Just like experts have used physical ergonomics for years to design workplaces that are more in line with how people naturally function in order to free up more energy and inspire productivity – we can do the same with our minds.
The reality is that we all have a natural flow state & genius that is unique to who we are. And when you work in line with your natural preferences, you automatically free up more energy and feel more motivated & inspired.
And the opposite is also true. When you work out of line with your natural preferences, like I did throughout my corporate career, you use up way more energy which can impact your motivation and productivity.
How to Align Your Business With Your Unique Flow & Genius
So as a life coach (or passionate entrepreneur), here’s the catch. Most (but not all) life coaches are some version of NF on the Myers-Briggs. Just like me. So if you’re an INFJ, INFP, ENFJ or ENFP – this is you.
And this means that you do not work in the same way as most people. This means that the traditional 9-5 workplace structure likely saps away a huge amount of your natural energy.
The great news? As a life coach, you are likely either building or running your own business as a solopreneur. Therefore, you have an amazing opportunity to align every aspect of your business around who you are and your natural preferences. So you can free up as much natural energy as possible, and feel motivated and inspired every day.
But here’s the challenge. Most life coaches don’t have a strong background in business and marketing, and haven’t run a business before.
So when they go to set up their business… they fall back on what they know. Their 9-5 career.
I know, because this happened to me. When I first went off on my own and set up my business as a marketing consultant, I was so excited. I was free of commuting, structure, and stupid rules around work hours.
But then a year in, I woke up one morning and realized I was even more exhausted than I was in my career. And it dawned on me. I had accidently recreated my soul-sucking career in my business.
I was still working in marketing helping business owners make more money (no purpose or meaning there), and I was working 9-5 Monday to Friday. Plus 6-9 – and 5 to 9, and on the weekends. Because in addition to my actual work, I had all this entrepreneur stuff to manage on top of it.
I almost gave up and went back to my old career. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stomach the commute. And I was pretty sure I was no longer fit to work for anyone.
So I had to figure out how to love what I do.
I basically took everything I had learned about personality types, values, passion and purpose – and combined it with all of the marketing strategy stuff I’ve preached to my clients over the years – and it worked.
I completely re-engineered my business so it was back in line with who I really am.
Everything is certainly not perfect, and I battle every day with how I “should” be working vs. how I actually prefer to work. But what I do know is that I now feel like there is meaning and purpose in what I do. I know that I haven’t had a cold or the flu in three years. I no longer sit in a semi-coma state at the end of the day. I wake up with energy.
And as an NF you can do it too:
- The first step is to reconnect with who you truly are, to identify your unique flow and genius – and then embrace it. I find that because we make up such a small percentage of the population, we often feel that the way we do things is “wrong” or “different” – and then should ourselves into trying to work in the same way as everyone else. That needs to stop.
- Then, you need to completely audit your business to make sure everything you are doing is completely aligned with who you are and how you prefer to work. This includes your programs & services, your marketing, and how you run your business on a day-to-day basis.
- Finally, you can put a plan in place to either make some small adjustments to bring your business back in line with who you are – or a complete overhaul.
Remember, that as a solopreneur, you finally have the chance to do things your way. To follow your purpose. To work in a way that frees up all of your natural energy.
And as an intuitive feeling life coach – I truly believe that running your business any other way just won’t work in the long term.
Are You Ready to Connect Who You Are to a Business You Love?
Grab my new eBook, Love Your Business, where I outline how to align your business with who you are & how you work best – in seven steps: