One of the primary arguments of the freak factor is that our apparent weaknesses are actually strengths. But this is only true if we put ourselves in the right situations.
The most common question that I get after my freak factor seminar is, "do I have to quit my job to find my freak factor?" In other words, people want to flaunt their weaknesses, but they are afraid of how it will affect their career and personal finances.
Below are seven options for finding or creating a better fit between your unique characteristics and your work. They are listed in order of difficulty and the degree to which they will disrupt your life. The easiest options are first and the harder ones follow.
The freak factor isn't an all or nothing proposition. Take a look at the strategies below and start with the one that you are most comfortable with. The point is to start somewhere and start now!
1. Keep your job and pursue your passion through hobbies, volunteering or family involvement. If you can find positive outlets for your unique qualities, your work will seem more bearable. This is the route that Allan Bacon suggests. His Avocationist blog offers tips for pursuing your passion without quitting your job.
2. Keep your job and try to adapt your current work responsibilities to focus more on the activities that you enjoy and do well and less on those you dislike and do poorly. This requires a good relationship with your supervisor. If you have this conversation, you need to focus on the benefit that the department and company will experience if you are allowed to adjust your role. Marcus Buckingham has a lot of wonderful examples of how this has been done effectively in Go Put Your Strengths to Work.
3. Keep your job and begin to develop a part-time business during your evenings and weekends. You can make a lot of progress on an entrepreneurial venture without ever quitting your job. It can also be helpful and wise to explore the viability of your business concept before giving up your full-time income. Your day job will be much more bearable if you have the hope of someday leaving to pursue your business full-time. Pam Slim's book, Escape from Cubicle Nation, is a helpful guide.
4. Stay at your company but request a transfer to a new job that matches your skills and interests. For example, maybe you're working in accounting but feel that your creativity is being stifled by all the rules and regulations and your innovative ideas are seen as dangerous and unwise. A transfer to the marketing department or to a new program development position might change people's perceptions of the value that you bring to the company and give you a greater sense of fulfillment.
5. If you can't find the right fit at your current employer, quit and find a new full-time job. Identify the kinds of activities that put the spotlight on your strengths and make your weaknesses invisible or irrelevant. Look for jobs that include those activities and start applying. Obviously, this isn't easy but the results will make the process worthwhile. Dan Schawbel's personal branding book and blog have some very useful advice and resources on how you can move your career in a new direction.
6. Quit your full-time job, get a part-time job and start a new business. Some people aren't cut out to be employees. If your freak factor requires you to do your own thing but you are somewhat risk-averse, this strategy can give you a greater sense of security and a modest source of income while you get your business off the ground. You can also get a new full-time job that is more flexible or has less responsibility and will allow you more time and/or energy to focus on your new business. My job as a college professor gives me a tremendous amount of freedom to pursue my business as a speaker, trainer and author.
7. Quit your job and start a business. If your weaknesses include impulsiveness, over-confidence or idealism, then this is the option for you. If you have no fear and you just want to make the leap right now, then go for it. I strongly believe that the best way to find the right fit is to create it. No employer will ever care as much about your future than you will and they won't ever be able to creatively adapt to your unique characteristics as well as you can. Jonathan Fields' book, Career Renegade, has some very practical and exciting examples of how people have turned their passion into a viable business. For example, one husband and father turned his love of video games into a thriving publishing business.
The point is that you don't have to quit your job, at least not right now. There are a lot of things that you can do today to start embracing your freak factor.
Did I miss a step? If you can think of any options that I left out, please let me know and I'll add them to the list.