Before starting, let me precise what I personally mean by “atypical profile”: I refer to people that recognize themselves in the term multipotential (see the related TEDx talk), as well as people falling into the more questioned yet real category we call “highly gifted” people.
They all share a common ground of :
a high need for stimulation and regular change (way above the norm)
a capacity for creativity and innovation that is highly precious in today's world of work
a fast and efficient learners nature, even when from scratch. They crave learning.
a strong sense and need for purpose and meaning
a highly developed need for fairness and justice (and the high emotions that go with when they witness or suffer from the opposite)
a high sensitivity to their human environment, that will highly impact their well being and overall performance
It does not mean that they are the only people needing these (meaning, justice, stimulation, sane environment,...). it just means that they need LOADS of these, and when they don’t have them, they can’t "suck it up and deal with it" like most people, they simply can’t function properly and end up under-delivering, being super passive in their life or worse, burning out. Their pain is at best clearly noticeable, at worse excruciating…
The need for stimulation and regular change is what I will focus on in this article: it is one of the trickiest, and it shows up both for employees, CEOs and solo-entrepreneurs. From now on, I will use "you", even if this article can be of high educational value for those dealing with these one-of-kind profiles!
So: you can decide to go from employee to self-employed, you WILL continue to face that need. You will eventually face the risk of feeling bored, stuck in a routine, or with not-ideal clients or collaborations... It will keep on showing up during your whole work life in a way or another, more or less strongly depending on the work-life and life you've crafted for yourself, and your capacity to adjust in a dynamic way before you go to an extreme and feel the need for a drastic change. Re-inventing yourself or what you do to a certain extent is a vital need AND a blessing! Change and stimulation are giving birth to innovation and creativity, to vision and impact. Feeling that boredom and other negative feeling that go with feeling stuck are the premises of a shift, and are a great opportunity to go closer to your essence. It is a process of constant adjustment and improvement. And as much as it is tiring, you know you love it and need it. Sometimes mildly, sometimes you will need big changes. Compromises won't last as long as you wish they did.
It becomes both healthy and interesting for you when you acknowledge and embrace it. When you tame the “dragon” rather than deny its existence and settle in a painful status-quo, numbing yourself with brainwashing activities, or substances.
The vast majority of the people who come to me and become my clients are falling in the atypical profile category. We attract each other. Some are fully aware of it, while others have no idea. Yet they feel a high resonance with what i do, say, and how i do it. When they haven’t yet realised and accepted their deep needs and patterns, the pain, despair and self-judgement are huge. The least self-aware often jump to the conclusion that they must be the problem, that something is wrong with them.
At best you get bored over and over again after the initial challenge of a new job/position. At worse you attract toxic work relationship, suffer from isolation, harassment, or manipulation… Over and over again.
When you reach a certain level of awareness of your difference, things start getting better: you start exploring and developing a deeper understanding of your patterns and specificities. And you slowly learn to take them into consideration. You learn to distance yourself from jobs and people who are not good for you. You learn to scan jobs and people more accurately, you learn to know and ask for what you need. It is incremental, and there is no coming back.
How can you move to that level of awareness and empowerment? Thanks to readings, discussions with the right people, work with informed coaches or therapists, and more broadly through ad hoc personal development… It is a life long process.
Yet even for the ones who recognize and understand their patterns and specificities, the problem remains: what to do when the need for change shows up...again... Awareness and understanding do not guarantee an immediate answer to questions such as “What am I going to do with myself?” or the pending, more guilt-oriented, one: “How come it happens again??? I thought I did things differently this time???”
The one thing to acknowledge to ease this process is to understand you have a cycle, and to stop fighting, blaming yourself or denying it: It goes for most of us from 1,5 year to 3 years. Some exceptions are shorter or longer, yet there is an average. Take time to look back and identify yours!
When the amount of injustice or questionable managerial behaviours is low, it will be 3 years on average. With the first signs of a need for change showing up around 2 to 2,5 years... Before that, you had the challenge of a new job and environment, there was a lot of novelty and learning, the discovery part was nice. You might even have considered yourself as not skilled enough or even a fraud for that position at first, and ended up nailing it after a year or so and have a significant impact after two…
When your human environment is not understanding or willing to accept how you function, this is also when politics, misunderstandings, separation or abusive behaviours start to become bigger...
At first, you avoid the reality of this call for change and/or relational discomfort because you don’t want to go through that process AGAIN.
If you are in a company or corporate this is when you feel it is time to change job while fighting it: Everybody around you seems to be ok with their routine or rather questionable politics. Some have been here for so many years! You GOTTA overcome it, you can’t be this “sensitive” or “needy” poor thing again, says the inner judge in your head...
If you are an entrepreneur, it is your services, your clients and/or your location that need drastic change to keep on going… The need becomes vital, and you slowly feel you are losing your light.
I am one of these atypical profiles, and back in corporate, it was SO HARD at times… The quality and understanding of my direct manager were what was making or breaking my potential and well-being. The amount of pain and guilt was insane when I had toxic surrounding or repressive management.
Now I am an entrepreneur and I work all day long helping people figuring out their next meaningful step, and how to build a professional life and leadership that suits them and bring the magic out of them. Because I really CARE about my “peers”'s pain and I want them to be the powerhouses they can be by honouring their talents and needs.
The world needs them!!!!
I also still need to be very careful about the signs that show it is time for the next move. I am well equipped in terms of self-awareness, tools, yet I too need somebody that gets me to talk to and help me move forward. Because it is hard, complex and emotionally loaded to figure things out by yourself! I wish it happened less often, yet I have learned to love the transition process. Another caterpillar-to-butterfly evolution!
All atypicals are in the same boat: my clients go from influential CEOs, to conscious entrepreneurs, to a junior or senior position in corporate, to people with what we call “entry-level” employee job… All of them navigating different levels of awareness and understanding of their precious “difference”, and as a consequence different level of discomfort or pain.
A huge stretch to say the least with all these profiles, yet one common core: this inevitable cycle and need for change, stimulation and meaning. And yes, a healthy, understanding and supportive environment. There is for all of us, a lifelong need to solve this complex equation of looking both for stability and stimulation or change...
This could be seen as a curse, but you can reframe it as a chance : when accepted and embraced properly, and with the right human environment around you, you can really create a work-life and life that suits you. And create hell-of-an-impact! It starts by acknowledging and then understanding your specificities. If you call it fate, you will live a passive and frustrating life, while knowing deep inside you were made for something else, something bigger.
Ask for feedback from trusted ones that get you, the precious ones. Seek support from a coach. Surround yourself with likeminded people. Educate yourself in books, talks,...
Don’t let people who don’t get that make you think there is a problem with you and that you should settle. There is not. You are part of a minority of the population. You are needed as much as they are. You simply have a different purpose in terms of contribution.
So, to the misfits, the originals: you can do this! I am not saying it will be easy and quick, I am simply saying it will be SO worth it.
If you want to discuss it further, reach out, or be bold, book an appointment! It could be the one action that will make you take real ownership on your life. The world deserves you to be empowered!
Helene is an architect of the human. She coaches inspired professionals to help them build a worklife, business or organisation and leadership that really suits them.