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Articulating Myself as a Creative Catalyst

Using Holland Codes to describe how I don’t conform to the conventional.

While rereading sections of What Color is Your Parachute 2020 by Dick Bolles, specifically the section on doing an inventory of yourself and figuring out what type of People you like to be around, he mentions using Holland Codes to figure this out. While I’m fully familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Kiersey Temperament Sorter (which builds off of MBTI), and even personality systems that expand upon these both, I found the Holland Codes system to be an interesting new perspective of trying to understand and articulate myself better.

John L. Holland’s RIASEC hexagon of The Holland Codes

What I found interesting about the Holland Codes is that you’re not figuring out exactly which one of the six personality types (i.e. Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional) you are but are instead trying to pick the three (as Dick Bolles suggests) that triangulate and encapsulate you the most. Also note how the cross-section of the diagram helps you to define yourself in terms of Conformity and Sociability.

For myself, I immediately gravitated to the Investigative, Artistic, and Social personality types. Artistic is most definitely my primary personality type with Investigative and Social coming in second and third.

And looking at these three collectively, it becomes apparent that I abhor environments that promote rigid conformity and a necessity to “fit in” but instead prefer more open, looser environments which help people “step out” and be more themselves.

In terms of Sociability, I’m more evenly spread out. I’m creatively Artistic, not liking structures or rules, thus Investigative in researching new ways of being, thus helping people to “step outside” current Social systems and be more their true selves.

The most difficult of these three for me to achieve though is definitely the Social personality. I love helping and empowering people but was highly introverted as a child, thus was often afraid to step forward to help. But as I’ve aged over the years, I’ve found that my unique knowledge and perspective (and how I can help people with it), helped me to come out of my shell more and more. Virtual game environments, where I could role-play someone else, made this an easy first step within the online communities I helped to build which I later replicated offline within professional work environments as well.

What’s evident in understanding myself from this newer perspective is how clearly it defines me as someone who obviously does not want to be forced to fit into and chained to the status quo or norms of conventional society. And it reminds me of when I read the book The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom, wherein they describe a Catalyst as a person with the following characteristics.

Catalysts are bound to rock the boat. They are much better at being agents of change than guardians of tradition. Catalysts do well in situations that call for radical change and creative thinking. They bring innovation, but they’re also likely to create a certain amount of chaos and ambiguity. Put them into a structured environment, and they might suffocate. But let them dream and they’ll thrive.

The Starfish and The Spider

That pretty much describes the Artistic, Investigative, and Social aspects of myself, whereby I’m seeking radical change and social innovation which shakes up and shatters existing social constructs and institutions, making room for people to step outside and grow beyond the limited, outdated beliefs we are currently living within.

But what does this look like in more tangible terms? The following additional quote may help out with this.

But just because catalysts are different from CEOs doesn’t mean that they don’t have a place within organizations. Top-down hierarchy and structure can be repressive to the catalyst, but some situations are uniquely suited to catalysts. Want to figure out an innovative way to promote a new product, expand into a new market, build a community around your company, or improve employee relations? By all means, bring in a catalyst.

The Starfish and The Spider

I’ve helped to promote a new product, built a community, and improved employee relations, as noted above. But what’s critical to understand about these things is that I often did them as a disruptive catalyst, often going against and not conforming with the structured, conventional norms to achieve them.

This is why I most definitely do not fit into conventionally structured companies which are specifically looking for people to fit into an exist space, silo, or slot. I’m not optimizing for fitting into siloed slots. I’m optimizing for stepping out of them and discovering new slots or spaces that are often unseen and invisible to most people but with which can hold enormous potential and possibilities for helping people grow and become who they truly are, rather than just being who they are expected to be.

The question though is “Are there companies out there who embody these characteristics I’m looking for?” As I’ve said before, especially within the city of Vancouver, BC, I highly doubt I’ll find such a company because the city is optimized for technical innovation rather than social innovation. Thus again, my only option would be to create the type of creative company that I’m looking for.

And the next question after that is “What would this company do?” It’s weird. I feel like I have all of this knowledge and awareness of this Big Shift that is going on but I feel like I don’t know what to do with it. In effect, I have no plan. But perhaps that’s my problem. I’m trying to figure out what to do before I actually do it and only by doing something will the natural plan emerge over time. This mirrors the process of writing in that often only by starting to write something do the words actually emerge in the moment and not beforehand.

What is becoming evident to me though is that even though I don’t know what I should be doing, I am greatly aware of things that a conventional person and company are often completely aware of (i.e. this Big Shift occurring societally and understanding why the changes are occurring). Perhaps that’s a simple starting point. Sharing my awareness and advocating the aspects of that awareness to those who are starting to get a glimpse of this awareness as well and wish to learn more about it.

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