Saturday, 19 September 2009

Conscientiousness - the downside


Conscientiousness has been linked with a whole range of desirable work outcomes. It's linked to job performance, productivity, satisfaction, the works. Although theoretically it is neither good nor bad, most people see it as highly desirable.

But I believe my own conscientiousness has hampered my career. There is no doubt that my gratitude for a job, my desire to please people and my natural pride and competitiveness all translate into high levels of conscientiousness.

But if I hadn't tried so hard, hung in there, gutsed it out and showed such determination I'd have left my consultancy job earlier. If I hadn't been able to subjugate my own needs to those of other people I'd have followed my heart earlier. If I hadn't been so willing to tackle things that I didn't really care about I'd have realised that this isn't as effective as tackling things I really, really want to be remembered for.

In short, the trait called conscientiousness allows people to be good at most things. Being good at most things leads to the paradox of choice - how do you differentiate between all these things you can do? (More often than not, whatever pays the most and whatever other people think become the main decision makers).

But the loser is you, your dreams and a life only partially lived.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Well-said. Looking back on thirty years of work I loved, but a position that became exhausting, I see that "turning off" the conscientiousness valve would have been good for my health and possibly my income.