Do what you are by Paul D Tieger, Barbara Barron, Kelly Tieger

It’s amazing how some book changes your life forever. I have met innumerable people who swear their lives turned around after reading ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. Not that it tells a fascinating ideology but it allows you to look inwards. 
When ‘Do what you are’ was published in 1992, few people had access to career counsellors as we do today. That led to several of them pursuing careers they were never meant to, simply because someone else did or that was the only viable option available.



Author: Paul D Tieger, Barbara Barron, Kelly Tieger
Originally Published: 2021 (Revised Edition)
Publisher: Little, Brown Spark
Pages: 384
Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Self Help, Psychology, Career

I would have personally gifted this book to many young adults out there who feel lost in the maze of choices. For one, it lets you delve into your own personality type and then based on that, you can make an informed decision. So it shifts the focus of choosing a job on volatile market conditions and availability to your own self and your personality. After all, work becomes enjoyable only if it suits your temperament. 

The book is roughly divided into three sections:

  1. Identifying personality types 
  2. The four ingredients to make your career more fulfilling and 
  3. To get to work. 

Personally, I find plenty of similarities between looking for a job and looking for a life partner. Just like the latter needs to be compatible, jobs need to be too. What suits you is best known by you alone. The first key factor is how much do you enjoy being around people? If you’re a solitary worker, you would prefer roles that do not require you to constantly work with teams. Then you would not enjoy even being a doctor who cannot think without a team. Any artistic pursuit generally needs you to focus on your art and craft. So if that is your liking, then don’t prefer a job where you need to be amidst people or machines but amidst anything that stimulates you, including books and music. 

Determining personality types

When the book was written, there was perhaps limited number of tests that showed you your personality types, including the famous Myers-Briggs Type Indicator also known as MBTI. This test has been in use for several decades and lets you understand 4 key personality factors that govern your type (Ex. Sensing, Judging, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving, etc.) and gives you a quadrant – like ISTP or INTJ. 

It is based on 4 sets of polar personality factors:

  • Introversion-Extraversion
  • Sensing – Intuition
  • Thinking – Feeling
  • Judging – Perceiving 

The MBTI personality type tells a lot about your core personality. Based on this type, it becomes easy to choose careers that suit. 

The ‘Four’mula of career satisfaction

Psychologist David Keirsey determined the four combinations of type preferences corresponding to the four temperaments of people:

The four combinations are:

“Traditionalists” (SJs) are people who prefer both Sensing and Judging.

“Experiencers” (SPs) are people who prefer both Sensing and Perceiving.

“Idealists” (NFs) are people who prefer both Intuition and Feeling.

“Conceptualizers” (NTs) are people who prefer both Intuition and Thinking.

If your personality (as found through the MBTI Test) is consistent with the choice of temperament, then you are sorted. This helps you identify which aspects of your personality are strongest and which are weakest. That way, you can leverage your strengths and avoid your weaknesses at work. 

Several people exhibit their dominant and auxiliary types separately. Determining that also goes a long way in enhancing your job satisfaction. 

The author goes on to describe in detail the different career paths and occupations that suit each personality type arrived at through the MBTI test. But while doing this, he does not fail to warn you of the pitfalls on the way. Based on this, one can create your own personalized career plan which eliminates your negatives and highlights your positives. Being aware about pitfalls also helps you avoid waste of time and energy lost during false attempts. 

Key takeaways

  • Before looking out for jobs, first look within and determine your personality type.
  • Match your type with the preference type and shortlist jobs and occupations.
  • Match your skill sets to suit the listed jobs. 
  • After all this, you need to know what interests you the most. 
  • Now conduct a thorough research about the fields , the jobs available, the income and your long term career path. 
  • Now plan how to get there.

Why I recommend this book

It totally eliminates all confusion that young adults face before they choose their career. Getting to work at a role that excites you every single day of your life is very crucial in making the most of your potential. 

Read this book if you have kids of your own who are treading the same path. Gift it to kids you know who would benefit from it. Today we have several more tools to add on this knowledge like online MBTI tests. Make use of these for your benefit. 

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