FINDING YOUR VOCATIONAL WAY in today’s shifting landscape of options is not easy. Many young (and older) people are facing the daunting challenge of matching up their inner talents with outer work demands. Choosing a Vocational Path requires wisdom, and probably courage to be true to you; and do the work you were given to do. To move forward, vocationally, trusting you’re heading in the right (best!) direction.
The following is an overview of the Five Inner Filters people wear as they seek to navigate the Outer World. Each type of Filter is suited to one type of particular work. Depending on which type you identify with will determine the kind of work—the general approach and/or area—you are most likely to find successful, rewarding and satisfying.
The Five Filters are: the SCHOLAR, SOCIAL CONNECTOR, CHANGE AGENT, ADVENTURER and the MYSTIC. (links to more information on The Five Filters listed at bottom of article).
BRIEFLY, the SCHOLAR is all about building knowledge in the world, seeks out trustworthy sources and is a respected expert on their topic(s). The CONNECTOR seeks to foster community, build networks and relationships; is a multi-tasker and enjoys hearing familiar voices. The CHANGE AGENT is on a mission to make the world a better place, one cause at a time; they are passionate and persuasive in their communication and usually single-minded and driven. The ADVENTURER loves a challenge and is the friend you want to have nearby in a time of need; they are skilled at overcoming obstacles, solving problems and working through difficulties. And the MYSTIC is known for their otherworldly stance towards the material world; they listen for the voice of God, with the intention and goal of aligning their own lives with the larger reality of the divine; to walk in truth.
What does this mean for each type Vocationally Speaking? What type of work suits each one best? What area of life would most benefit from the gifts, talents and genius they bring to the table?
THE SCHOLAR IS A THINKER. They love to learn, teach and add knowledge to the world. This means the Path of the Professional suits the Scholar to a tee.
When a Scholar is fortunate enough to land in this choice-area, it means they do not have to worry about making money because their career comes with a salary and pension. They can focus on what they’re really good at: thinking things through, completing puzzles, filling in missing knowledge gaps, researching the best way forward, developing the theories, solutions and models that make the world go ‘round, etc. This area also comes with plenty of opportunity for prestige, recognition and status, all of which signals to the Scholar that they’re doing good work and serving a worthwhile goal. This is important to them: professional credentials and collegial recognition.
What does NOT work for a Scholar is an overly politicized work environment; or to be working in an area that does not require intellectual engagement and/or a high degree of personal integrity.
THE SOCIAL CONNECTOR IS A LISTENER. This means the area of Care-giving works well; any situation where listening to people with empathy, concern and care.
When a Connector applies themselves to the arena of care-giving, their prized skill of listening, caring and responding are able to flourish. These are multi-taskers used to being involved in peoples’ lives in a practical, helpful way; and so the opportunities to serve are well served by this type. They are not problem-solvers; they are listeners and empathizers; responders and competent managers able to meet multiple needs. They feel most rewarded when they feel appreciated and needed; making money is not (necessarily) first priority, but relationship. This means their work may be paid or volunteer Community Service, but either way needs to be rewarded in way that honours the personal effort the Connector puts in.
What does NOT work for a Connector is being taken advantage of; or having to put out when they feel overwhelmed or under-appreciated. Rewarding the relentless work of listening and caring is important to a Connector being able to focus on the people at hand.
THE CHANGE AGENT IS A TALKER. This suits anyone interested in building, leading or participating in Business or Mission teams.
When working in this area, Change Agents relate to the visionaries they are most likely surrounded by. Running a business means talking about the vision, checking in with teams, selling the idea, product or service and generally running the social gauntlet that is the only way anything gets done in business or when on-mission. People who love to talk make great business-minded, results-driven, contagious-motivators! This type loves to take risks and push the boundary of what’s possible. Problems exist to be solved. Results are what matter. This type has a lot of energy to make good things happen—to make a difference in the world by making an Impact (with their message, product or service). This type may be happy on top as CEO or in the middle working as a part of a team towards the end-goal.
What does NOT work for the Change Agent is being given a role that is cut-off from the larger end-goal. They need to be part of a team that’s doing work that matters. A Change Agent in a passive or mindless role is not a happy or productive person.
THE ADVENTURER IS A DOER. They love to put their hand to the task and experience the immediate satisfaction of seeing a job done well. This means they value Skilled and Unskilled Labour roles.
When an Adventurer has a physical task to accomplish, or a project to perfect: something they can take ownership of and complete with pride, this type feels satisfied with the words, “Well done.” This type is naturally encouraging of others—relying on friends rather than colleagues—and merit-based. Being able to do a job, on time and do it well is a mark of pride with this type. Talk, theory and long conversations—even mission statements—do not impress them. Commitment, capability, craftsmanship and quality impress them. This type takes what they do personally; and is, in part, satisfied working for an hourly wage because it means they control their time and are accountable for their efforts. Personal dignity, respect of their community and an opportunity to solve problems and take on challenges that require their particular skill are all important to them in terms of work-satisfaction.
What does NOT work for the Adventurer-type is a work without a physical component or that doesn’t require their particular skill set. Feeling underemployed or underutilized—wasting their time—rubs this type the wrong way.
THE MYSTIC IS A FEELER. They rely on their sense of discernment, gut instinct and spiritual intuition or inner voice. This means any area of work where the question, Why? arises attracts their attention, whether this is in the area of ministering grace on a spiritual level or artistically exploring the connections between this world and the divine.
When a Mystic works in a creative, spiritual, exploratory or experiential context, they tend to thrive. This is not your theologian working on the finer points of a certain doctrine (that would be your Scholar at work); this is not your heart-on-the-sleeve pastoral counsellor (that would be your Social Connector); no, this is your prayer person, or your gentle healer, your writer or painter, photographer or potter performing the work of responding to the unseen and overheard and giving it tangible, felt presence in the world. This type flows well when working with symbols and their interpretation; or the sacraments and their essential placement, or the sacred and its many expressions.
The Mystic does NOT work well in confined or cluttered spaces, facing stacks of paperwork or sorting out logistics by phone or email. They literally need space and time apart to do what they do. Giving them a title, role or even paycheck linked to a prescribed list of responsibilities can easily diminish the true and holy work they feel called to advance in the world.
Hopefully this list helps you (or your’s) find the way forward in your chosen Vocation; and helps you identify whether or not you’re currently in the best-suited posting for what you truly have to offer the world—to give back a piece of your best self—and to know the full reward of doing the work you are called to do.
For More Information on the Five Filters: