Book Review: Do What You Are

Do What You Are:  Discover The Perfect Career For You Through The Secrets Of Personality Type, by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger

As is often the case with a book like this, the authors deliver a bit less than promised.  To their credit, this is not a bad thing, and few people reading this book should expect anything differently than the authors’ somewhat salesy approach.  This book is more enjoyable if one is as fond of exploring the applications of personality theory as I am [1], an interest that many people share given the popularity of these books with publishers and audiences alike.  Yet it is a book that very few people will read all the way through, since the way it is structured makes it somewhat repetitive for that fashion and far more suited to finding oneself within the pages and then recommending it to someone else, likely of a different personality type, who can read the book for the advice to them and so on and so forth.  There is a certain interesting quality about the professional domains that are selected and highlighted based on one’s personality type, but a lot of this book is more than a little repetitive.  That does not make it bad, just not as enjoyable read as it could have been.

The book’s contents and organization make it clear that the focus of this book is armchair career counseling by MBTI personality type.  The first part of the book encourages readers to unlock their personality type by looking at it as an aspect that leads to career (dis)satisfaction and encourages readers to discover and verify their personality type.  The authors then, in the second part of the book, discuss the matter of the four different temperaments, the innate strengths of each character type, the public and private faces of strengths, and give a developmental view on how those strengths are honed over time.  The third part of the book, which contains about 2/3 of the book’s 320 or so pages worth of material, gives a detailed breakdown of the career preferences of the sixteen personality types one after another.  Each of these chapters includes 2 or 3 profiles of people with this personality type and their career arc and explanations of why their career is a good fit for them, along with common threads among the disparate profiles, what career satisfaction means, strengths and weaknesses of that personality type in the workplace, implications for the job search, pathways to success, and possible pitfalls based on the weaknesses of that personality type.  The end of the book briefly tries to put everything in the book together, encourages readers to look at their career options, and provides resources about personality typing for further reading should the reader so desire.

Despite the fact that this book is a fairly obvious sort of cash grab for people either at the start or at a transition within their work life, does this book in fact work as a worthwhile extension of personality theory?  I think the answer is a qualified yes.  The book is not specific enough to replace more detailed career typing or specific career counseling, but the book is certainly worthwhile as far as self-education for people is concerned.  Our personality does influence what sort of work we enjoy and what sort of work we are best suited for, and the authors do a good job of being broad enough in the recommendations given to allow the reader to choose from a variety of options or to extrapolate from the options provided to other areas one so chooses.  I found, for example, what the book said about my own larger personality type rather revealing and quite accurate:  “A good job for an NT might be one that provides autonomy, variety, plenty of intellectual stimulation, and the opportunity to generate ideas.  NTs must find their work challenging to be satisfying.  Since they can be impatient with others whom they consider less competent than they, NTs need to be surrounded by very capable supervisors, colleagues, and employees. Many NTs value power and gravitate towards powerful positions or people (61).”  Guilty as charged on most of that.  No doubt those readers who are fond of personality theory will find a lot to be of interest here.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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3 Responses to Book Review: Do What You Are

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Inkblots | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Bookkeeping Exercises | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: The People Code | Edge Induced Cohesion

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