What can archetypes do for you? Part 2
In this week’s Cadence blog I’ll be writing about how the power of archetypes can help make things easier for you in your professional life. This entry follows on from Part 1 – why not give it a read if you didn’t get a chance last week? In the previous entry we focused on why archetypes are powerful, and this week we will look at how you can use them to your advantage.
A great place to start is to find out which of the classic archetypes you feel most affinity with. There are many resources that can help with this – I recommend this one because it doesn’t come packaged with the usual hocus-pocus that gets lumped in with online self-development resources. There is a handy test on the website, and the descriptions of archetypes are applied to both people and brands, which is pretty fascinating.
Once you’ve figured out which one resonates most with you, you can start to examine the difference between your professional persona as currently constituted and the archetype that you feel represents you best. Ideally the gap between these two will be small – the bigger the gulf, the more stressed you’ll feel. If you are an archetypal Creator (a musician for example) then trying to present yourself as an archetypal Sage (like a data analyst) will generate a stress in you which will inhibit your ability to commit to your work and perform at your best. The solution therefore is to bring elements of who you feel you are into your personal presentation. This way, people will be able to feel that they are dealing with somebody who is internally consistent and coherent and who is representing themselves honestly. Clarity of presentation is more valuable than any of the specific details of the presentation itself.
The benefits of appearing to people in this way far outweigh the potential negatives. If you go to a networking event and try to present yourself as a hyper-dynamic hotshot corporate lawyer, when really you are a tortured poet inside, people will notice and will pick up on your discomfort. Having the shiniest shoes in the room won’t help if you’re giving off confusing signals to people – better by far to spend the time you would have spent shining your shoes to take a moment to tell yourself that its OK to be who you are, and just to relax and enjoy yourself. There are only two possible reactions to this; either somebody will appreciate the honesty and coherence of your persona, or they’ll grumble about your shoes. Which type of reaction is going to make you more likely to try and build a successful working relationship with the person you’re talking to?
Of course, there will always be times during our careers when we have to play by strict rules, and a good knowledge of standard business presentation is a very handy thing to have for that reason. But when we look around us at the people who are really motoring, they are always people who know who they are and act accordingly. By using archetypes to help find out more about who we are, we can start to narrow the gap between ourselves and our professional personas. With the stress levels thus reduced, we can start connecting with people more effectively and start to build the strong working relationships that can help us all get where we want to be.
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