Be a Quester – Adapt a New Attitude to Succeed

March 18, 2019
Be a Quester: Adapt a New Attitude to Succeed

Who are Questers?

What personality traits enable them to succeed? What gives them inspiration and courage to pursue causes important to them? Could you do the same? 

Are you a Quester? Take the Quester Quiz:

Questers, who have been around for centuries, represent all ages and backgrounds. They’re not perfect, but possess many characteristics needed to succeed in uncertain times.

My research on lifelong career change and empowerment, described in Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life, illustrates people with Quester qualities. 

Questers are authentic, have a sense of purpose, courage to risk, and take charge of their lives. They’re confident, resilient, and value intrinsic rewards such as autonomy, challenge, and growth more than external rewards like status, money, and security.

Optimistic, creative, and inner-directed, they view failure as learning experiences and measure success by internal standards. Periodically, they reevaluate goals and make needed modifications to maintain congruence between who they are and what they do.

Individuals, who take a more conventional approach to their careers, are called Traditionalists. Committed to organizational careers, they value external rewards and measure success by how their careers measure up against the approved timetable. Although they may achieve temporary security, future options are limited. In a world of continuous change, security must come from within.

The differences between the types lie on a continuum. Everybody needs some security, growth, and challenge, but the types have different priorities. Quester qualities are healthy and enable us to adapt to change. Questers report higher levels of self awareness, job and life satisfaction, health and longevity than Traditionalists.

Questers create work in harmony with their purpose and move up or down the occupational prestige ladder to achieve fulfillment and growth. Career advancement, to them, means growth of the whole person.

Fred studied mechanical engineering because he loved “fixing things.” He enjoyed his early work but not senior management. Therefore, he created a maintenance position in an apartment complex that enabled him to fix things. “If you’re doing what you like, it’s not work,” he shares. 

Jasmine came to North America from the Philippines when she was 28. She wanted to “learn about the world.” Jasmine took various odd jobs while studying English and software development. For seven years she worked for a software development firm. Now Jasmine is in the process of moving to Saudi Arabia where she can teach her software development skills at an educational institution and learn Arabic. Reflecting on her moves, Jasmine says, “It is challenging, but I feel confident knowing I can do things!”

Attuned to changes within and around them, Questers anticipate layoffs. While his colleagues worried about being laid off, Chen upgraded his skills and contacted employers. He was offered a job the day he received the pink slip.

Some Questers find innovative ways of expressing themselves in large conventional organizations. Curtis, a senior quality assurance manager, began his career as an hourly files inspector with an aerospace organization, 30 years ago. He took leadership and other training which enabled him to advance his career.  Flexible and innovative, Curtis says, “I use intuitive cues and constantly try to do better…”

Questers, ahead of their times may have to buck societal standards. Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer and physicist, was considered a revolutionary by the Church. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. both risked going against the tide of popular opinion to defend causes important to them.

The literature on creativity, self actualization, entrepreneurs, and people who live long, healthy happy productive lives all demonstrate that these individuals possess traits similar to those of the Questers.

Famous Questers who have contributed to humankind include Plato, Galileo Galilei, Thomas Edison, Marie Currie, Albert Einstein, Florence Nightingale, Steven Spielberg, JK Rowling, Nelson Mandela, Usain Bolt, Jesse Owens, and John Glenn.

Few Questers think of “retirement,” but continue involvement in meaningful paid or unpaid activities that give them purpose, direction, and continuing growth. Dr. Ephraim P. Engleman, a pioneering rheumatologist, continued his medical practice and instructed part time at University of California San Francisco, until his death at 104.

Some Quester centenarians are attending school for the first time providing more proof you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Ma Xiuxian, an 102-yer old Chinese woman who never had the opportunity to attend school as a child is making up for that. Ma attends school with her primary grade school class mates. They all enjoy each others friendships and support.

Jeanne Calmet, a French actress, was riding a bicycle at 100 and appeared in the film, Vincent and Me, making her the world's oldest actress. Calment died at 122.

We’re all born Questers, but as we grow older, we lose the excitement for learning. We forget the good feelings that come from mastering challenging tasks. Reprimands, don’ts, and shames result in fear of trying. We set up barriers to growth manifested in expressions of resistance including fear, denial, delay, and low confidence.

Fortunately, we retain Quester qualities within that can be strengthened. Sometimes, crises such as layoffs, illness, and divorce precipitate self-evaluation and growth.
Strengthening Quester traits
-  Clarify purpose. Identify themes: absorbing childhood activities, proud accomplishments, when you feel very energetic, a favorite Halloween costume. 
-  Be authentic. Do what’s right for you. Ensure actions are consistent with thoughts and feeling. Set goals in harmony with your purpose. 
-  Believe in yourself.  Focus on positive qualities. Avoid, "I can't."  Don’t compare yourself with others. Judge accomplishments against personal standards and strive for excellence.
- Continue to learn. Read, take courses, volunteer. Challenge conventional beliefs. Recognize and seize opportunities. Find better ways to do things. Try. Place no limitations on yourself.   
-  Enhance courage to risk. Review three successful risks taken. Note what made these successful. Identify perceived barriers for taking another risk and explore ways to overcome these. 
-  Manage fear.  Identify worrisome issues. Minimize these researching relevant information and resources. Live in the present. Let go of "attachments." Form a support system. 
- Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Your Life provides additional tips to strengthen Quester qualities and attain desired goals.

Author Bio: Carole Kanchier, PhD, is an internationally recognized newspaper/digital columnist, educator, registered psychologist and author of the award-winning, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life and the forthcoming Arouse the Force Within You!  Dr. Kanchier has taught at University of California, Berkeley and Santa Cruz and University of Alberta, and served as visiting fellow at Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, and other institutions of higher learning. Carole Kanchier is known for her pioneering, interdisciplinary approach to human potential.