Having had some time to reflect on this summer, three related and important ideas came to mind:
People Do Not Change
I was reading (yet another!) book on management, and this lesson was explicitly cited by the authors as one for which great managers and poor ones disagree. The argument being that if people do not change, then the job of a manager is to draw out of the employee their natural talents and find ways for those to be put to use. Of course, employees should continue to learn new skills; however, fundamental personality traits are essentially immutable. Hence it is futile to try and change them.
Find People Who Support You As You Are
If I do not change, a natural corollary is if I want to enjoy being in the place where I am working, then I need to find places which have people who support me as I am. Because to do otherwise puts my colleagues in a position of potentially trying to change something about me which cannot be changed, and that only makes them (and me!) frustrated. Thus it is far better to go to those places where I can make a meaningful contribution by being the kind of person I already am.
If You Cannot Support People As They Are, Try Not To Be Around Them
This one kind of surprised me a bit. I think it tells me that if people do not change and if I cannot support them as they are, then what good is it for me to be around them? More likely than not I will slip into trying to change them. Which will frustrate both of us.
Of course, there’s definitely some subtleties regarding what it means for people “to change”, and what qualities about people might be immutable. I suppose personality characteristics - some enjoy big groups of people, while others prefer more solitude, for instance. Essentially, I think we should ask “What kinds of things would I do not only because I am good at them, but for which I also enjoy the challenge of getting better at them?”. Those are probably traits which will not change too much.