“She’s got personality.” When we hear this phrase inherent in its bias are probably the characteristics of being outgoing and fun to be around. Similarly, when we use the phrase “he’s a quiet one,” we think of the characteristics of being shy, possibly suspect. Have you ever wondered what makes one person’s personality different from another?
This question has confounded everyone. Anyone who is in a relationship of any type has, at some point, wondered about the other person’s personality. Parents and children, significant others, friendships, siblings, boss, and subordinates. The list is long and varied. And, yet, the majority of us probably don’t research the biology or even the psychology of what makes us different.
Is Biology Destiny?
Today we are going to be looking at the biological aspect of what makes you who you are. More specifically, we’ll discuss how that knowledge informs your career design journey. I have researched this topic extensively and as a neuroscience nerd, I have amassed a lot of useful information that I’m excited to share.
Human beings are multi-faceted. Which in turn makes our personality multi-faceted. Many factors go into why you are who you are. It is well-established in many scientific disciplines that study personality, that 40-60% is biologically based. Or, put another way, personality is hard-wired.
An Evolutionary Anthropologist’s Take
One individual I have run across during my research is Evolutionary Anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher. She has identified four biologically-based human systems that account for 40-60% of our personalities. A little interesting aside about Dr. Fisher is that she was primarily focused on romantic love and what makes one choose one partner over another. Her work became so renowned that she was even hired by Match.com to help with the connections their clients made.
I came across her theories on biologically based personalities and made the connection to how they could help out people looking to design meaningful careers. So here we are! Her theories + my generalizing them = insight for career designers.
Let’s begin by learning what the four biologically-based personality systems are.
How Serotonin and Dopamine Play a Role
First off, there’s what I call the Pillar. These individuals have more traits associated with the Serotonin system. We often think of Serotonin as the “happy” neurochemical. This is often because it is associated with Serotonin Uptakes or Inhibitors that are found in anti-depression medications. But serotonin is used to facilitate a myriad of functions in the body. Pillars are often more traditionalists. They are more conventional and conform and observe social norms. They enjoy making plans and schedules and are conscientious. They are stabilizers and tend to be more authoritarian leaders. Famous examples include Mike Pence, Al Gore, and Queen Elizabeth.
Secondly, there is the Adventurer. These people express more traits linked with the Dopamine System. We often think of the dopamine hormone as being related to a feel-good drug. It causes a rush when one wins a lot of money and people who lack this system can also exhibit addictive behaviors. The Adventurer likes novelty and variety. They love trying new things. They tend to be curious, creative, risk-taking, and independent and can be inspiring. They are great entrepreneurs, artists, and entertainers. They make great charismatic leaders. Famous examples include Winston Churchill, Richard Branson, and Gloria Steinman.
How Estrogen and Testosterone Play a Role
Next comes the Connector. These individuals express traits related to the estrogen system. While we typically think of the hormone estrogen as a primarily female one, males also have estrogen and many men are Connectors. They are holistic, contextual, long-term, imaginative thinkers. They also excel at the people skills of being empathetic, intuitive, insightful, trusting, and nurturing. Connectors can make excellent educators, medical workers, and salespeople. And they tend to be diplomatic leaders with the ability to broker consensus. Famous examples include Abraham Lincoln, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Clinton.
Finally, there are the Achievers. Like the Connectors, this personality type is based on a hormone system: testosterone. Achievers tend to be analytical, logical, direct, and decisive. Men and women with this personality are competitive and like to win. They enjoy status and are excellent at understanding “rules-based” systems. These individuals make excellent engineers, mathematicians, computer technology workers, mechanics, and musicians. They are strategic thinkers and commanding leaders. Famous examples include Margaret Thatcher, Albert Einstein, and Beethoven.
How Does This Help with Career Design?
Considering personality when considering your career design is important because it gives you insight and information into who you truly are. This can lead you to choose careers that work with your innate strengths and that can lead to a more satisfying career.
I have designed an online program that takes these factors, along with many others, into account: My Career Design Studio. It walks you through assessing things like your personality, strengths, and interests and leverages them into meaningful work and an optimum lifestyle.
In My Career Design Studio, the Career Assessment gives you information on your personality and what that might say about your strengths, challenges, skills, and abilities. This information is used later in the program to lead you to your right-fit careers.
So, what do biology and personality have in common? It turns out a lot. And what do they have to do with successful career design? Way more than you probably even thought. Hopefully, this has given you some insight into the four major biological drives that influence our personalities, interests, and behaviors.
Let’s put this life-altering information to work for you!
Learn more about how your personality traits impact your career design journey by signing up for a free seven-day trial of My Career Design Studio. It will set you on a path of self-discovery and will forever change how you find jobs.