I was reminded today about the personal aptitude testing offered by the Johnson O’Conner Research Foundation. I was reading Tim Berry’s 5 Business Life-work Stress Factors and Passion or Ability? posts on his Planning Startups Stories blog. He points out that people work best, successfully, efficiently, happily, with personal satisfaction when they are doing something they love or something they do well. Here’s a quote from their website, www.jocrf.org.

“The Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation is a nonprofit scientific research and educational organization with two primary commitments: to study human abilities and to provide people with knowledge of their aptitudes that will help them in making decisions about school and work. Since 1922, hundreds of thousands of people have used our aptitude testing service to learn more about themselves and to derive more satisfaction from their lives.”

“Interests vs. Aptitudes

  • Interests are the result of what you do, what you learn, and whom you know.
  • Aptitudes are the result of inheritance and early development.
  • Interests can be influenced by outside factors.
  • Aptitudes are innate abilities.”

The nugget of gold here is that people work best in jobs that utilize their natural aptitudes and interests, and give them a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. You can have a job that fits your aptitudes, but if it doesn’t keep you interested, you will seek out a hobby or other activity that will grab your interest.

I visited a Johnson O’Connor office some years ago and learned a lot about myself, and confirmed much that I thought I knew. I’ve been able to improve my work, my career, my personal job satisfaction, and my value to my employers using this knowledge.

Here are just a few of the things that I learned and confirmed about myself:

  • I am a loyal supporter, not an out-in-front-of-the-charge leader. I’m a team member not a manager (confirming something I had already learned from several disastrous experiences).
  • I work best when given a task, and then left to complete it my own way. I respond poorly to micro managing. Here at Palo Alto Software I have a manager who listened when I told her this, and directs my work to our mutual best advantage.
  • I love to learn new things, I love words, I’m a voracious reader. What better job than an editor.
  • I appreciate consistency, visual continuity and harmony, and I value and practice precision and attention to detail. You won’t find me doing big-picture planning.
  • I’m in the lowest 5% of the population in tone recognition, pitch discrimination, and rhythm/tempo maintenance. I’ll never be a Yo-Yo Ma or Van Cliburn or a real-time language interpreter.
  • I am visually creative, and enjoy using graphics tools to do my job, as well as being a photographer and watercolor painter. Balancing budgets and crunching numbers is mind numbing to me.

In summary then, I encourage you to go take the tests at Johnson O’Conner. Learn about your aptitudes and interests. Play to your strengths and work to your strengths!

Steve Lange
Senior Editor
Palo Alto Software

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