Flower Exercise Part 1: What Kind of People And Working Conditions Do You Prefer?

Over the next few weeks we are breaking down the classic Flower Exercise found in the career advice book “What Color Is Your Parachute?”  The Exercise is a set of self-evaluations over different aspects of work designed to find a vocation which gives them more fulfillment and purpose in life. For those who have found themselves either unemployed, underemployed, or second-guessing their career choices in light of the coronavirus pandemic, this process can be a valuable resource to plan their next steps.

There are seven petals, and this post will review petals one and two, which explore the kind of people with whom you want to work and the working conditions and environment you want to work in.

The first petal looks at “people” in the work place. This could include both the clients or customers involved in the work you do as well as the people who would be your colleagues.  The Parachute method develops a person’s “Holland Code” built on six different types of people.

The Holland code defines the six types of people as realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, or conventional approaches.

Realistic people prefer the more tangible – working in defined environments with specific activities such as those of a mechanical nature or with animals, or perhaps athletic pursuits.

Investigative people are observers who are curious about organizing and defining activities.

Artistic people are creative and prefer less structure around them and maximum flexibility.

Social minded people want to work with people to train, inform or develop others.  

Enterprising people are the organization and goal minded people, who might be motivated as a start-up projects, sales, or people leaders.  

Conventional people prefer activities which are systematic in nature – they might be your office organizer or project manager who makes the trains run on time.  

You might look at yourself a first blush and think you have several traits – and you probably do.  Holland believes most people would have as many as 3 of the traits and your personal code is a combination of 3 of the above traits. You can use a test found here to identify your own personal code.  

In Petal 2, you determine the type of working conditions you want. You might prefer an outdoor environment with lots of variety and movement.  Others might prefer a structured work environment that is very predictable. This is somewhat related to the first petal in terms of how you interact with people, but it can help you understand better whether you want to work for a small or large business, or if this is the time where you would like more independence and be either self-employed or independent contractor. The focus of the second petal doesn’t take as much depth, but you should really look at the jobs you have had and what you disliked and liked about the environments and rank your preferences.  

Taken together, your external environments of the people around you and working conditions can make a huge difference in your overall happiness in your profession. They are the aspects of your work life which you have limited control over once in the job, but if you consider them before you take a job, you can be happier with your position.  Our next blog post will examine the 3rd petal, which looks at your skills.  

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