This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

TOC for Personal Growth #TOCICO13

"Few people live, most people merely exist." - Oscar Wilde

You have to love a good Venn diagram.  What do you get when you overlay the answer to these four questions:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What do I love to do?
  3. What drives me?
  4. What fits my personality?
You get a way to answer the question, "How to live a full life?"

These questions are the core of today' full-day session, presented by Efrat Goldratt. These questions will look familiar for people who have done career planning, read What Color is My Parachute, or used the many other tool on the topic of finding your career path. The question at the base of the discussion seems different: How to really live?  

This is a familiar topic in the Theory of Constraints community, as Eli Goldratt was asking this more and more in the last few years of his life. It is the core message of his last book, The Choice - written as a conversation with his daughter, Efrat. 

The seminar was setup like a workshop, where Efrat introduced each of these questions, why they are important and a way to get at the answers to the questions. Importantly, it works best if you work with another person to help check your thinking and articulate why you have answered the way you have.  For the first two (What am I good at? and What do I love to do?), it was a familiar process of writing down some ideas and then refinining and checking.

The third question (What drives me?) was more interesting and the big area where Theory of Constraints comes into the discussion. I found it very interesting, as it led down a path I didn't completely expect.  Specifically, if you are looking for what creates meaning for you - your own purpose in life.  She recommends using the Three-Cloud Method*, in which you identify three personal conflict clouds and combine them to a larger generic cloud.  But the specific usage is a little more structured.  In this case, she suggests that you describe situations that you "comply with" or "put up with".  For example, a teenager might say, "I comply with doing my homework."  This gets turned into a cloud:

Simple cloud

You build three of these and then look for commonalities from which one can build a generic cloud.  This process can take quite a long time, possibly all day of thinking and checking and rechecking your logic with a coach or friend who can follow the process.  The last step it to identify the injection that will break the connection between B and D (this where personal conflict clouds are always broken).  In this case the injection should be something that makes you sit up and say, "THAT is the mission of my life!" It can be an Ah-Hah moment.  And it can be quite surprising. 

With this insight, it is time to think about the 4th topic - that of your personality type.  While there are many personality type tools out there, Efrat Goldratt particularly likes Enneagram. She spent about half of the workshop describing the nine Enneagram types and some of their key characteristics.  There is a lot more detail than could possibly be presented in this workshop, but Efrat added an interesting aspect to the discussion.  Each personality type has a "health" range, and to improve from one range to another involves a personal struggle.  Efrat suggested that this represents a conflict of the needs associated with the personality type.  And it is in breaking this conflict (slowly, and with much back-sliding), that one can move to a new level of performance. People were very intrigued with her thinking along these lines.  And it seemed to make a lot of sense. 

The end result of this? You've identified the "sweet spot" of career elements you are good at,  you love to do, that drive you, and what fits your personality.  Take that knowledge and pick the career and jobs that fit.  Or at the very least understand the ones that don't fit!

* If you don't know about Evaporating Clouds or Conflict Resolution Diagrams, there are many useful references on the web.  Essentially, they are great tools for thinking through the reason for a conflict - often evidenced by the existence of undesirable effects or UDEs. 

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