Are you a Type A personality? Discover how our guest, a fellow Type A individual, managed to transform their career journey to find meaning and fulfillment in their work. We dig deep into the need for variety and engagement for easily bored Type A personalities, the impact of early childhood experiences on our tendencies, and the role societal influences play in shaping our career choices. Plus, we reveal how understanding our coping mechanisms is essential to finding a career that truly works for us.
Feeling trapped in a role that doesn't suit your personality? Find out how to self-assess what you're tolerating and not accepting in your life, and how making small decisions can help shift your experience for the better. We also discuss the significance of being aware of your emotions throughout the day, so you can reach that tipping point where it becomes less painful to make a change than to stay stuck in a lane that doesn't work for you.
So any successful people in our business are type A, they're ambitious, they're driven. The question is does that really lead to real satisfaction and fulfillment? We'll find out on this episode of Shift Shapers.Host:
This is the Shift Shapers podcast, connecting benefits advisors with thought leaders and entrepreneurs who are shaping the shifts in the industry. And now here's your host, David Saltzman.David Saltzman:
And to help us answer that question, we've invited Macky Musavi, who's an executive and mindset coach and author of a really great book that I recommend to you. We'll put it in the show notes so it's easy to get. It's called The High Achievers Guide and, frankly, the subtitle is kind of where it's at. It says transform your success mindset and begin the quest to fulfillment, And don't we all want that? Welcome, Macky. Thanks for being with us today. That's our pleasure. Tell us a little bit about your background. What's your journey been like?Maki Moussavi:
Thanks for having me, David. Oh, it's been pretty twisty and turny. So I, you know, obviously identifies a type A personality and was always a really good student and wanted to do really cool things. So after college I studied genetic counseling which I know is an obscure degree, got a master's degree and was really into the science of genetics and excited to apply that knowledge. But I always kind of had a sense it may not be in a traditional like patient facing setting. So I ended up getting a job for a healthcare IT company that was actually building software specifically to support genetic testing and getting those results into electronic medical record systems So they could be leveraged in this very specific way. And I had a really good time the first few years of my corporate journey. I was a subject matter expert, so I got pulled into all kinds of things. I was doing strategy and I was working with the development team and I was helping the sales team and the marketing teams and talking with clients And it was a lot of fun. But then at some point I had to make a decision and was encouraged by a mentor. You know you've done the subject matter expert thing for a while. I think you have a future in the on the business side of the company, if you'd like to take a little stroll over there and see what that's like. So I thought that sounds good, it's good timing for that And that's pretty much when it all hit the fan And I really realized, you know what. This isn't at all what I had in mind. Even though it came with a big, nice paycheck and recognition and status and all of those things, i really had a really abrupt wake up call that you know I didn't think this was the right place for me, but I also did not have the answer to how to go kind of this route about you know saying, gee, you know the great paycheck and the corner office with the window or whatever the perks were, it's great, but it's not doing it for me.David Saltzman:
But will, is that kind of how you migrated into what you're doing today?Maki Moussavi:
Yeah, that's a great question. You know, i think at first I did what everybody does, which is I started thinking about my resume and what I was qualified to do and where I could easily get another you know job and get paid well and all of that. But I don't know. I think there's a lot of type A people like myself who are clear about the fact that they are easily bored. So, you know, variety is a necessity of engagement for mental purposes. And I just knew, thankfully, i kind of hit the pause button as I was considering looking for a job and knew that that would solve my problem for about six months, but once I learned enough at the new job, i would be right back to where I started. So I think the really important recognition I had was that, yes, there's lots of challenges with the way that our systems are set up around work, but at the same time I had an understanding that I was the problem in this scenario that I was going to take, whatever my tendencies were, with me, and that was the thing that I really needed to hit the pause button and look at. And when I started to do that, just because of my background in science and my natural curiosity, i started to observe the people around me And I thought it was just interesting to see how many other highly educated, type A successful people I worked with who I knew were just in an equally dissatisfied place, and that's when I started to think you know, if I can combine your epiphany with your education, is being a type personality, a genetic trait. You know, that's a great question. I don't know if it's a genetic trait. You know, when I look at my parents, i would say my dad does not have that tendency at all. In fact, i even write a little bit about how watching him not reach his potential was very influential for me and the way that I made my decisions. My mom is probably a little bit more ambitious, but I still think there's sometimes I think it's the conditioning right. So for me, my early childhood experiences set me up to go get what I needed outside of my home from other adults And that coping mechanism for balancing out what I wasn't getting at home worked for me and that it gave me what I needed emotionally as I was a child who was developing. But we also don't ever stop to think about the coping mechanisms we adopt to see if they're still serving us. That same seeking validation and meeting and exceeding other people's expectations was what was driving me to be successful, but it was in a very outdated way.David Saltzman:
That was about me feeling completely empty inside and needing people from the outside to tell me that I was good enough And that I can pretty well assure you, without doing any kind of a survey, that the vast majority of our audience are all type A, because it's necessary to survive in the employee benefits world where they are. So let's go back to the book for now and let's see the structure you're using And you say okay. I think the analogy you use is a computer And you talk about an operating system. What is that all about? How does that manifest itself in our day-to-day stuff and what we should be thinking about?Maki Moussavi:
Yeah, so I worked for a healthcare IT company, so that was such an available metaphor, i guess. But we are so programmed by the messaging that we get our childhood experiences, our experiences in our industries in ways that we never really stop to think about. So we get the microcosm of this is what you're learning from your family about what success and hard work and work ethic looks like. And then, as you grow up, whatever societal influences happen to be present at the time you know influence you. If you're successful, you have a nice car, you have a big house, you're going on vacations, you're wearing nice clothes, and then there's the pieces that get more nuanced as you get into your industry. So I'm sure for your audience, you know people who are in the benefits space. there are parameters around what a successful person in that space looks like, and then organizations reinforce that right. So you just get a barrage of messaging around. this is what it looks like to be a success And to me it is as intense as being programmed just like a computer. you know you are being programmed to behave, think and act on things in ways that everybody else is telling you are important. And unless and unfortunately we don't have virus scan capabilities or you know, we could easily fix all these issues. but we have to be conscious and see like I'm doing things that are not working for me. So it does take some effort and looking at how have I been programmed And then if I want that to shift in some way, that kind of that is determining my operating system And if my operating system is getting me certain things but not other things, then I need to take a look at that and decide what needs to be updated.David Saltzman:
There are two statements that you make in that chapter, in that first chapter, that I thought were interesting. One is fear has made you its bitch. What do you mean by that?Maki Moussavi:
Yeah, yeah, you know, i think it's just so fascinating for myself and for the people that I work with, the extent to which fear is the reason that we decide not to do things right. And we're so binary and black and white and are thinking a lot of the times when we're type A. So it's like here I am, i'm successful, i have all this money. If I dare make a change, i'm going to be destitute, jobless, and I'm not going to have a family anymore and I'm going to be living under a bridge Like the. catastrophizing is epic, right, when you're built to operate this way. And so there's this piece. that's just. it's all fear of loss. You know, if I say this, i'm going to lose an opportunity. If I say this, i'm going to lose my job. If I say this to the person I care about, they're not going to want to be my friend or my spouse or my child anymore. You know, it's always this fear that we're going to say or do something that's going to lead us to have less than we do today, and we never think about the opposite. You know what if you say it and it works? What if the thing that is taking up space in your life shouldn't be because it needs to make space for something else. There's such easy ways to flip your perspective, but we are so conditioned to be afraid And at the same time you know not to get on my philosophical soapbox. that really serves the system right. So the system wants you to feel like your only option is to put your head down and grind, because that benefits the system, that's benefiting from your work, and then you get rewarded for it. So you end up in the cycle of kind of being imprisoned by your circumstances, even though it's a pretty cushy place to be in some ways, and it's all just I'm too afraid to make a move because people see who are really the greater human motivator than desire for gain.David Saltzman:
But you know, it's interesting. We talk when we work with our clients in my consulting practice and we try to understand the persona and the wants and desires of who will ultimately be their client. One of the things we talk about is somebody like Daniel Kahneman's research where we think we make decisions with our prefrontal cortex, with that reasoning part of our brain, but in point of fact we make decisions with our amygdala, with that emotional part of our brain, and we've just gotten incredibly adept at thousands of over thousands of years of instantly rationalizing those decisions. But they come from, as you say, a place of fear. So it's, you know, it's I guess it's across the board just part of the human experience. The other thing in that chapter that I like was don't just pray, row the damn boat.Maki Moussavi:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, what's so funny about that is I saw that it was a don't pray, don't just pray, really row the boat. In my freshman year of high school, my teacher had it on the wall in her room and I just there is this culture right now of like manifestation and law of attraction and stuff that I fundamentally I do believe in, those things like I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I think there's like this little dose of magical thinking that comes with that, which is, if you just sit and meditate hard enough and think enough about what the thing that is that you want, then everything's just going to fall into place and the world's going to deliver that to you on a platter and like nothing could be further from the truth. Right, you should have a firm grasp on what you want and what you're striving for, and then you have to take action. You know the the the puzzle pieces are not just going to fall into place. So sometimes I hear people say things like I wish the universe would just show me, like, what I need to do next, and clearly it's not this. But why is it so hard? because they're trying to bypass the process of doing the deep work and just wanting things to be delivered to them on a platter. So you so much of our experience professionally often develops reactively. So when you're in a profession, what happens is people see what you're good at and then your company or some higher up will say I think you'd be really good at this new project or thing that's coming up. I'm going to tap you to come do this, and we're flattered by that. We're also conditioned to always say yes to things. So we do it and before you know it, you know years of your career have passed and you're doing things that other people think you're good at and should want to do, versus things that you want to do right. So that piece about rowing the boat is like take the aligned action for you so that you have the clarity when an opportunity comes up, whether or not it's a good fit. Because if you don't have that clarity, you will continue to say yes and potentially go further and further.David Saltzman:
Why is that, as you point out, you really want to go with whom you surround yourself so important?Maki Moussavi:
Oh man, it's so important. You know, again, i don't think that I was always fully conscious of this, when I was just kind of in that space where I was doing the things that everybody else was doing. But when you start to break free from that and you express to people you know, i don't think I want to do this anymore, i think I need to make a change. And you start to get the responses around are you crazy? You know, how could you walk away from this? You're never going to work it as good of a place or as make as much or make as much money. You want to be fulfilled and satisfied, but that's really just kind of a pipe dream, right? So people kind of they join your ego and beating you down with a baseball bat in order to keep you where you are. And the thing that I think happens subconsciously that we don't recognize is that if you're surrounded by people who have resigned themselves to being fine with where they're at, even when they know and you know that it's really not okay, then you are gonna, like you were just saying, you're gonna instantly rationalize your position by saying this is just how it is, there are no other options. It's unreasonable to think that I could make a change, so I might as well just stay where I'm at. And the more people around you who think that way, the more likely it is that you're gonna stay in that same space. Because you know we're tribal as human beings and so we want the acceptance of other people, we want to feel like we belong. And when we start to decide like this isn't gonna work for me, that fear of loss, separation from people who think that way, really kicks in, and it's important to make sure that, if that's happening to you, it's not that you have to burn all those bridges, but it is important to go find people who will support your forward movement in a different direction, so that you have that as a backup for yourself, because it's gonna get hard right so you one of the things in that chapter before we kind of move on.David Saltzman:
Um, you talk about staying your lane. How do you get out of your lane? I mean, again, as you mentioned, we get comfortable and and maybe it's just comfortable with okay, i know I can do this or I can fake it till I make it um, maybe you're comfortable with the, you know, tangible rewards, the again, the big office or the great paycheck or the nice car or whatever. It takes a lot of courage for people to get out of their lane. How do you? what's, what's the internal conversation you have to have in order to kind of almost force yourself to go, say, i wonder what that other lane looks like.Maki Moussavi:
Maybe that'd be a better place yeah, absolutely, you know, i think it. It comes down to some extent as silly and tried as this may sound to authenticity. Often, when we're in those places where we are just marching to the orders in terms of our conditioning or expectations, we're not, we're not being ourselves, right, we're doing what's expected, we're checking boxes, we're making sure other people approve of us and again, i think in our culture right now, there's a little bit of hype around like authenticity is this great thing, and if you do it, like all these doors are gonna open, it's an amazing thing. Yes, but also, authenticity is disruptive, right? so if you are you and you show up fully as yourself, some people are gonna like it, some people are not gonna like it, right, and that again goes back to the fear piece. But you have to reach a tipping point and I truly believe this. I think this kind of deep developmental work is almost like rehab. You know you've got to raise your hand and say I'm ready for this, this maybe a little bit painful process, in order to get to the other side. You have to be willing to go there and the thing is, once you get to the point where there's enough pain in your current circumstance we're staying in the lane that you have. That's been defined for you. Gets to the point where that's more painful than making the change, then you make it, and that's kind of where I was at. I was just so clear that where I was was not working for me and something needed to shift, and therefore the lane change almost wasn't optional anymore. And you can get to the point where you know you stay in that lane that's not really working for you until something catastrophic happens. Maybe you have a health event, maybe your relationship falls apart, maybe you lose your job and then the decision is made for you, and I'm always an advocate for make the decision. If you wait too long, the decision will be made for you, and usually in a way that's a lot more painful than if you would just take the initiative. So it's a pain threshold. You will get to the point where you can't stay in that lane anymore, and then you can either double down and say, well, i'm just going to keep doing this because it's too scary and it'll eventually be real work.David Saltzman:
So we've got three or four minutes left. I'm curious if you were going to build a road map for somebody. How do you find happiness and fulfillment when success just isn't doing it for you?Maki Moussavi:
Yeah, it takes a lot of courage. So for anyone who's considering that, i applaud you in advance. I think the most important thing that you can start with is raising yourself awareness to that tipping point where you recognize this isn't working for me anymore. And it doesn't necessarily have to be that you're going to change professions or leave your job, but the clarity that you need to have around what would make this better for me has to be there. So just resigning yourself to the status quo is not an option. So the most important thing you can do is ask yourself this question what am I tolerating? And tolerating is what that means. Tolerating is not a great word. I actually don't even like the word when we use it to describe social things. We should tolerate, no, we should accept. We should not tolerate. Tolerate doesn't have a real positive meaning For you. There are things that you are putting up with that don't work for you, don't serve you, but they're part of what you've been conditioned to accept. If you can ask yourself, especially pretty intensely, for a couple of days, from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed at night, what does it feel like? Like you were mentioning earlier, the emotions are the most important piece of this. When I first wake up in the morning, when I have to get on these calls, when I have to interact with these people, when I go to execute these tasks, at the end of the day, how do I feel? and use very specific language. Don't say things like I'm tired, are you exhausted, are you depleted? Can you not do this anymore? Are you anxious? Use very specific language. And this is kind of an uncomfortable exercise because you're going to see a lot that has just been very under the surface for you. But that's what you need to see in order to raise that self-awareness to the point where you say I do need to make a change. So the best thing that you can do for yourself at the beginning is to really tune in. And then, when you start to see all the things that aren't working for you, it begins to give you the opposite picture, like how could this be better? What would I want to feel instead of where I'm at now? And then you can start to make very small decisions that start to shift that for you. So, for instance, if you are used to saying yes to this person that wants to go have drinks with you and you know they're going to complain the whole time and you would normally say yes because you've been friends forever. Maybe next time you don't say yes or you direct the conversation in a different direction?David Saltzman:
The question that I always ask people when they come to me for advice which they do occasionally is what would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn't fail, if your success was assured? what would you do? Sky's the limit, just name it. You know magical elves will come down and help you accomplish this. But it's been a great conversation and it's so important that people do this. I'm going to recommend the book again. It's called The High Achievers Guide, macky Mousavi. Macky, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with our audience today.Host:
Thanks so much, david, it was great.Speaker 4:
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