My type is “Achiever” and I am an Assistant Professor at the University of California – Berkeley. Being an Achiever has certainly helped my career, mostly in the sense that it helped me change careers. I used to be a business executive, a job that was challenging and rewarding in many ways, including financially, but not satisfying to me personally. I had always thought I would be a great university professor but it seemed so crazy to leave such a great job, and one that I enjoyed, in order to chase after a dream job that would definitely be very hard to get. Becoming a university professor in my field meant going to graduate school for five or six years to earn my Ph.D., and then competing with literally *hundreds* of other Ph.D.s for a scant handful of tenure-track faculty positions. I knew that the odds were against me – they were against my getting into a top Ph.D. program (which are extremely competitive), and even if I managed to get into a great graduate school and do well, the odds were very much against my getting to be an Assistant Professor at a top research university. Hardly *anyone* in my field gets a faculty job of any kind, let alone a tenure-track professorship at an R1 institution.
But being an Achiever, I decided something. I decided that even if only five people ever got the kind of job I wanted in the field I wanted, *I* could be one of those five people. In other words, my fundamental assumption changed from “I can never get one of those jobs!” to “I can definitely be one of the very few people that can get one of those jobs.” After all, I had a strong track record of achieving goals that many people had thought impossible (getting into the college of my choice, winning prizes there that were only awarded to a select few students, turning a low-paying job into a high-paying one, getting all of the promotions and opportunities that I wanted in my career). So why couldn’t I achieve what I felt was my greatest dream for my working life, which was to get into a fabulous doctoral program and then get a terrific job at a top college?
My mindset helped me do what I needed to make my career dreams come true. I look around me and see so many people discouraged from even trying to get the kinds of jobs they really want, and know they can be really great at. I feel like the biggest difference between the people who don’t try to get their ideal jobs and me (as an example of someone who went after my career dream and who succeeded) was my fundamental knowledge that I can achieve what I want to achieve. That certainty is just a part of me – a part of my personality. I think that’s what the enneagram is about – it gives people a way of articulating basic, elemental aspects of their personality that other kinds of articulations (like horoscope signs or something like that) don’t really get at. In my case, being an Achiever, I know that I can go after what I want and, as long as I work hard at it and keep my focus, I can get it. Nothing else explains that part of me as well as the enneagram. Being an Achiever just seems to be written into the fabric of my being.
- By Ginger