What does personality have to do with driving a bus? More than you may think.
Maybe you are one of those rare lucky ones whose career path has always seemed pre-ordained. Maybe you’ve known since childhood that you were born to be a teacher, or an inventor, or an author of children’s books. And if you were really lucky, you grew up and actually figured out how to earn a living doing your dream job. But for much of the generation now approaching retirement, choosing a career was more of a “hit or miss” proposition. Many baby boomers chose jobs based on timing, geography, opportunity, or serendipity. And whether they loved the job or not, they often stayed put for decades.
Now for the good news: It doesn’t have to be that way. For a growing number of workers -- especially those in Generations X and Y -- the conventional three-step career plan (graduate, get a job, and stay there for 40 years) is a thing of the past. Many people can expect to have two, three, or more careers during their working years; and for some, “working years” may extend well beyond traditional retirement age.
So, if you’re considering a job change or planning to pursue a post-retirement career -- and you want to get it right this time -- put this piece of advice in your pocket: It pays to know yourself.
The Science of Personality
Would you describe yourself as a lone wolf or a people person? Are you a rule follower, or more of a free spirit? Would you say you’re adventurous … or cautious? Given those sets of “either or” choices, most people have no trouble selecting one or the other. But a handful of folks see themselves as both. If you are one of this handful, you may be suited for driving a bus.
The science of personality has fascinated folks since Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung first identified psychological types in 1921. Jung was the first to categorize people as either extroverts or introverts – which, incidentally, may not mean exactly what you think it does. It’s not so much that extroverts are outgoing, “life of the party” types or that introverts are withdrawn, “wall flower” types, but rather that extroverts derive energy from other people whereas introverts recharge by being alone. So, if you’re an extrovert, being in a crowd or at a party will likely energize you. If you’re an introvert, those same settings may deplete your energy – you’ll need to go home and chill to get recharged.
Jung also defined personality according to the way we take in information and the way we organize and interpret it. To make these Jungian theories more accessible and relevant to ordinary people, Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, came up with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in the 1940s. It’s still used today to help people zero in on their preferences, in four areas, in order to determine their personality type.
These four categories of preferences (Myers and Briggs thought of them as “dichotomies”) yield 16 possible combinations, or personality types. Here’s a quick, totally unscientific quiz, loosely based on the MBTI, to help you determine your job-related personality type. If you want to take the actual MBTI instrument, go to https://www.mbtionline.com/TaketheMBTI.
Choose your preferred work style.
- I like working alone or in small groups, at a deliberate pace, one task at a time.
- I like working on a variety of projects, preferably with others, at a quick pace.
If you answered A, consider yourself an Introvert (I).
If you answered B, you’re probably an Extrovert (E).
- I tend to focus on facts and details and rely on what I see and hear to assess a situation.
- I prefer to focus on the big picture and consider alternative interpretation; I seek creative solutions to problems.
If you answered A, you are a Sensor (S).
If you answered B, you are an Intuitive (N).
- I like to make decisions using logic, analysis, and data; I weigh pros and cons objectively and value consistency and fairness.
- I take other people’s needs and my personal values into consideration when making decisions; I value collaboration and cooperation.
If you answered A, you are a Thinker (T).
If you answered B, you are a Feeler (F).
- I like to make plans and stick to them; I am organized and good at following rules and procedures.
- When it comes to planning, I prefer to stay flexible and keep my options open so I can be spontaneous.
If you answered A, you are a Judger (J).
If you answered B, you are a Perceiver (P).
Now that you’ve taken the quiz, use the results to compile a four-letter code that defines your personality type – for example, ESTJ for Extrovert Sensor Thinker Judger.
Here’s a synopsis of your personality type based on your four-letter code:
ESTJ: You are a realist and quick to make practical decisions.
ESTP: You love excitement and excel in a crisis
ENTJ: You are a natural leader, a strategic planner, and an analytical thinker.
ENTP: You are enterprising and creative, and enjoy a challenge.
ISTJ: You are a hard worker who takes your commitments seriously.
ISTP: You are straightforward, honest, and prefer action to talk.
INTJ: You are a creative perfectionist, and like doing things your own way.
INTP: You are an independent thinker and out-of-the-box problem-solver.
ESFJ: You are outgoing, considerate, and enjoy helping others.
ESFP: You are gregarious and playful and value common sense.
ENFJ: You are a people person who is energetic, articulate, and diplomatic.
ENFP: You are curious, confident, and creative and see possibilities everywhere.
ISFJ: You are modest, determined, and enjoy helping others.
ISFP: You are warm, sensitive, and caring.
INFJ: You are a thoughtful, principled person driven by your integrity.
INFP: You are an idealist, motivated by your deepest personal values.
Personality Type and Career Choice: Should You Be Driving a Bus?
What do all those four-letter codes have to do with career choice? Plenty.
Knowing your personality type won’t necessarily tell you what job you’d be good at. But it can predict what you might enjoy doing, and therefore can help you find a job that would be the “right fit.” Knowing your type can also help you choose a course of study or career path that will suit your personal preferences.
But here’s the catch. Many people fit neatly into pre-determined personality types. For others, those four dichotomies -- Favorite World, Information, Decision-Making, and Structure -- aren’t so black and white.
So, where do you fall? When you took the quiz, did you find yourself vacillating between answers? For example, do you enjoy working alone (I) but also enjoy socializing and meeting new people (E)? Extroverts and introverts alike do well as bus drivers. Drivers interact with lots of people but also have plenty of quiet reflective time.
Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in (S) or do you tend to interpret and add meaning to what you perceive (N)? Bus drivers take in all kinds of information -- via signage, maps, and GPS, for example -- but they also have to make more nuanced observations about traffic patterns, road conditions, and even interpersonal situations.
Do you use data and logic for decision-making (T) but also listen to your gut (F)? Are you a careful planner (J) who can also be flexible when the need arises (P)?
You get the idea. It takes a unique blend of characteristics, preferences, skills, and aptitude to be a charter bus driver. Do you have what it takes?