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You and Your Career: How I Answered the “Is This All There Is?” Call

You and Your Career: How I Answered the “Is This All There Is?” Call

Taking you along our cycles of success journey of applying the MBTI® and Strong tools in your career development and personal life is Catherine Rains, M.S., CPP’s Solutions Consultant. You can read all of the blogs of this multi-part this series here.

How I Answered the “Is This All There Is?” Call

In my mid-thirties, I was in a career that mostly matched the primary motivators of the middle letters of my type: NF. I had been a career counselor for the past decade and, at that moment, was managing a university career center that provided me with the opportunity to do what NF types love to do most— inspire, motivate, create, strategize, brainstorm, and envision. But something still felt missing. Not realizing my answer was hidden in type, I did a classic career development exercise where I listed everything I loved to do as a child without being told to do it. On the middle of this list was written, “create collages out of magazines.” So one Sunday afternoon, I pulled together a pile of catalogs and magazines, ripped them up, and created my first collage in 25 years.  I had so much fun doing this that I continued collaging almost every day for the next three years.

Just to clarify, I was considered the “artistic nerd” in my family, not having the ability to draw or paint. So these collages weren’t “good.” In fact, when I showed them to students and colleagues, their first response what to ask whether I had children (I don’t). However, this didn’t deter my passion because each of my child-like creations gave me so much joy to create and reflected my personal inner journey to answer the “Is this all there is?” call. Somewhere along this three-year journey, I took one art class (my first ever) and learned how to make my collages look more professional. One day soon after, I photocopied a new collage and sent it to a friend in California, who in turned framed it and displayed it on her office wall.  When one of my friend’s clients saw my collage, she offered to buy it, and I gleefully sold her the original! Jump forward to the present day. I have turned that initial sale into many sales, including showing my work in many galleries and juried fine art shows, winning many awards along the way.

Although art is still a hobby, making collages complements my career as a trainer for CPP, and allows me to express both the NF and ST function pairs. How? For every collage I create, I pull together somewhere between 100 and 500 little magazine pieces, moving them around a board to form a picture that looks more like a painting than a collage, a process that is like finding the perfect piece to complete a puzzle.  Each collage takes up to a year to complete. To say the least, my art form is extremely  detailed oriented  (ST), and in order to sell my art I have had to learn many detailed business skills (ST), which at times has been a struggle. Yet, doing this art form, including the selling of it, almost feels like a compulsion, something I have to do to feel whole, satisfied, and complete.

Even in the midst of developing our non-preferred functions—and for me, ST type activities—we never leave our “heart,” or middle letters, behind. Quite the contrary: our functions still run the show. For me, this is reflected in the theme of my art, which is intended to inspire people to pursue their heart’s desire, all NF!

What has YOUR journey to wholeness looked like? Where would you still like to develop? We would all love to hear your story!


Read the previous post in this series: You and Your Career: Answering the “Is This All There Is?” Call

BLOG DIRECTORY for “Cycles of Success: Employee Engagement, Career Development & Talent Management” series.  As we continue this journey for the next few months and continue to post the various blogs, you can check back here to find them all in one central place.


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