Back in its heyday, the Oracle at Delphi was more important than Google. Kings and commoners alike came to this famous site in Ancient Greece seeking answers.
They received them from the Pythia, who was either a priestess channeling the voice of Apollo, a villager stoned on ethylene vapor, or a front woman for scamming priests, depending on your point of view.
But regardless of where you stand on ancient mysteries, one of the most famous sayings from Delphi is “Know thyself,” and 21st century job seekers are still trying to make it work for them.
As important as this concept is, maybe we should stop thinking it can work miracles.
Today we can take on-line personality quizzes, spend big bucks on profiling tests, meet with career counselors and watch Oprah almost non-stop, but it’s not clear what all this searching really accomplishes.
For some, the goal is discovering the authentic self, as if once that’s done, everything will fall into place. We’ll zero in on our dream job is, claim it, and our lives will become one long study in self-fulfillment, clutter-free homes and no doubt low-fat and delicious gourmet dining.
That’s just not realistic. I went to www.askoracle.net, an online novelty site described as “The Oracle at Delphi,” and asked what sort of job I should pursue. “Mortician” was the answer I got.
Of course, you do need to know yourself in order to know what sorts of jobs would suit you. This is where career counseling can be very helpful.
You also need to know what sort of work rhythms and workplace cultures make you feel comfortable. How do you handle ambiguity? Working independently? Deadline pressure? Even if you’re in the right sort of career, if there isn’t a good fit between your work style and the corporate culture, you’re not going to be happy.
You can answer these questions with a little soul searching, and the results will definitely help you build a rewarding and sustainable career. Personality testing, as well as studying career and life issues, can also yield valuable insights that may help you refine your search.
But there’s no knowledge so magical it will make your work life effortless.
Maybe if we stopped spending so much time looking for the magic knowledge that would unlock our career potential, we’d have time to get down to work and make the most of what we already know about ourselves.
by Danielle Dresden