Polarity and Your Career

March 5th, 2007 by Steve Pavlina

As a follow-up to the Polarity and Polarization articles, let’s explore some practical applications of polarity-based thinking with respect to your career choices.

Better decision-making

The significance of polarity is that it can serve as a powerful decision-making tool.  It helps you cut through the fog of indecision to reach a new level of clarity.  When you look at a decision from the polarities of love and fear, the right decision for you will often become clear.  So the whole point of understanding polarity is to make more accurate decisions leading to more desirable results.

Your drive and ambition

Your own position on the polarity spectrum will play a huge part in determining the kind of effort and energy you invest in your career or business.  As a general rule, polarized people are far more ambitious and driven than non-polarized people.

A lightworker’s source of motivation is love.  The “love conquers all” expression has some truth to it.  The more deeply you love, the more you’ll be driven to act.  Lightworkers have such infinite stores of love within them that they can’t help but express it.  The drive to create and contribute is undeniable.  There is a joyful compulsion to give.

A darkworker’s source of motivation is fear.  Whereas a lightworker transcends fear by recognizing fear as pure illusion, a darkworker faces his/her fear as if it were a beast to be slain, taming it and using it as fuel.  This primal fuel burns as a passionate lust for power, control, and dominance.

When you see someone lacking ambition and drive in their career, it’s a safe bet they haven’t polarized yet.  But it’s an equally safe bet they’ll be working for someone who is fairly well polarized.

Deciding to polarize is not remotely easy.  It’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make.  But you’ll never tap into your deepest levels of drive and ambition until you do.  You’ll just remain stuck on the sidelines.

Making intelligent career choices 

If you polarize with love, you’ll build a career based on where you can make the best contribution.  You’ll want to work where your strengths and talents can be put to use serving the greater good.  Your top considerations are service, creativity, and contribution, and you’ll evaluate your career choices based on how well they meet those criteria.  Things like salary, job title, and benefits are still relevant, but they’re only important to the degree they enhance your ability to serve.

If you polarize with fear, you’ll build a career based on acquiring money, status, and power.  Recognition and advancement are extremely important.  You want to climb the ladder of success as far as you can go.  If you end up contributing along the way, so be it, but that isn’t your primary concern.  Making a contribution is only relevant to the extent it increases your power.

Your polarity will affect your major career decisions.  Certain industries have polarity leanings, as do individual companies.  I saw both ends of the spectrum in the computer gaming industry.  On the one hand, there were some highly creative developers who were truly working for the sheer joy of creation.  And on the other hand, I met executives who couldn’t care less about their company’s products or employees and just wanted to sell lots of units.  Internally conflicted companies usually don’t perform well.  The companies I saw do best were those where there was either a company-wide focus on sales or a company-wide focus on producing quality products.  In both cases it’s essential that these companies avoided the traps of lightworker syndrome (going broke creating) and darkworker syndrome (imploding from excessive selfishness).  I’ll explain these concepts later in this article, so keep reading.

You might think that a balanced mindset is more effective than a polarized one, but it just doesn’t work that way in the real world.  The singular focus of polarity produces better results.  A service-based company will still pay attention to sales and profits, but the purpose is to expand it’s creative output.  A profit-driven company will still put effort into its creative output, but only to the extent those efforts increase profits.  Both companies can be very successful, but they’ll operate with very different value systems.

Your polarity will determine what kind of company will be best for you.  It would be torturous for a lightworker to work in a fear-polarized company as well as for a darkworker to work in a love-polarized one.  You’ll learn a lot working for a highly polarized company, but for long term career enjoyment, it’s important to choose a company that matches your own alignment.

You might find it enlightening to rate your previous employers on a scale of -10 (fear) to +10 (love).  Then rate yourself on that same scale, and consider your experiences in light of those ratings.  Do the same for your current employer.  Does this give you more clarity about whether you need a career change?  Do the same for the industries you’ve worked in.  Do you need an industry change?

Dealing with others

Now use that same -10 to +10 scale to rate your co-workers and associates.  Which polarity is most predominant in your work environment?  Do these polarity ratings give you new insights into the nature of your professional relationships?

Knowing someone’s polarity leanings can make your working relationships go much more smoothly.  For instance, if you know someone is a -6, you must appeal to that person’s self interest to motivate him/her.  Offer that person more power, recognition, rewards, money, etc. and you’ll see some good work and cooperation.  These incentives won’t work as well on a +6 person though.  With a +6 you’ll want to emphasize the opportunity for creative work and show how this person will be making a positive difference in the world.

Recently I was reading a passage from an author who’s written more than a dozen books.  He stated very plainly, “It’s all about the money.”  And his books reflect it, with many upsell offers in every chapter.  This author is writing to maximize profits, and he’s shamelessly open about it.  I had lunch with him a few months ago, and he really walks his talk.  He’s wealthy, successful, energetic, motivated, and happy.  His alignment is working for him because he embraces it.

You needn’t fear a darkworker if you understand how that polarity works.  The nice thing about darkworkers is that you always know where you stand with them.  You know you’re only in their life because they think they can gain something from associating with you.  For this reason I’m more inclined to trust a darkworker than someone who isn’t polarized.  With someone who hasn’t polarized yet, you never know where you stand.  They’re internally conflicted, so their behavior is inconsistent and harder to predict.  But with a darkworker, you know you’re on solid ground as long as you’re feeding their self-interest.  So it’s a fairly safe relationship as long as you maintain the ability to help them get what they want.

Similarly, I love interacting with lightworkers for the same reason.  You know where you stand with them.  You just need to align yourself with their desire to create and contribute.

Now with respect to your own career, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What would I do differently as a committed lightworker?
  2. What would I do differently as a committed darkworker?

Make two separate lists.  The interesting thing is that you may notice some overlap between them, perhaps a great deal of overlap, even though there’s a very different intention behind each list.  Either polarity is more effective than mixing your energies, so the neat thing about polarizing is that you can experience a strong call to action no matter which side you pick.

Avoiding polarity problems

Polarized people focus on cycling their energy flow in a single direction, much like a current flowing through an electrical circuit.  The important thing is to maintain the flow, which requires considering the big picture of the whole circuit.

Lightworker syndrome is what happens when a lightworker focuses on giving to the exclusion of all else, ultimately crippling his/her capacity to give.  These are the people with really big hearts who give, give, give to the point of exhaustion.  They haven’t yet learned the importance of balancing production with production capacity.  Lightworkers must learn to balance their giving with receiving to the degree it increases their capacity to give.  This is a more intelligent form of giving than burning out from giving too much.  But instead of mixing polarities, the true intention is always on increasing one’s capacity to give.  For an intelligent lightworker, even receiving becomes an expression of giving.

In truth a lightworker who fails to receive is using fear energy by mistake.  The inability to take time for themselves is rooted in a fear of being perceived as selfish.  So without knowing it, they’re actually calling upon fear energy, which slowly corrupts the flow of their love energy.  Consequently, lightworker syndrome isn’t caused by excessive love.  It’s caused by the hidden application of fear energy.

Darkworker syndrome is what happens when a darkworker becomes too power-hungry and ends up self-destructing.  The collapse of Enron is a good example… greed to the point of implosion.  Darkworkers must learn to balance their acquisitions with some form of contribution, to the extent that it increases their long-term capacity to gain more power.  A darkworker who only takes and never gives will quickly lose the cooperation of others and will manifest emboldened competition.  Overtly “evil” behavior does not befit an intelligent darkworker.  When a darkworker gives, the true intention remains focused on long-term power gain, so giving is still a completely selfish act.  For a darkworker giving is seen as good PR.

A darkworker who fails to embrace “selfish giving” is using love energy by mistake.  The darkworker who commits too many evil yet unproductive acts secretly wants to self-destruct, so that s/he can finally begin making amends to relieve a guilty conscience.  Guilt has no place in a darkworker’s soul, and its presence is the sign of the hidden application of love energy.

Whichever polarity you choose, it’s important to remain cognizant of your own shadow.  Persistent negative emotions are a sure sign you’re mixing polarities.

Your true intentions

When you look deep within yourself, what do you see staring back at you?  Are you a lightworker in the making, or does the dark side call to you?

While words like light/dark and love/fear obviously have major social conditioning attached to them, it’s best to view each polarity as equally valid and acceptable.  Judging these polarities as good or evil is out of line with their actual practice.  I assert that the good polarity is the one that’s best for you, and the evil polarity is pretending to be something you’re not.  Don’t resist who you really are.

If you’re feeling that being a darkworker would be wrong or evil, consider that a darkworker can end up making a much bigger social contribution than a non-polarized person, even though contribution isn’t his/her primary concern.  So don’t beat yourself up if you feel drawn to this polarity.

While you don’t have to polarize anytime soon, for the best results you should eventually polarize with whichever side you find most attractive.  Which side is more appealing to you?  What kind of life do you want to experience?

Selecting a polarity needn’t be a lifetime commitment.  I suggest you pick whichever polarity seems most natural to you, and give it a 30-day trial.  Do your best to embrace the lightworker or darkworker mindset, and see what it feels like to make polarized decisions.  At the end of the 30 days, decide whether you want to continue with that polarity, or give the opposite polarity a 30-day trial.  Switching polarities isn’t easy, since you’ll have accrued some momentum with your first choice, so you may want to take a week or two to rest in neutrality before tackling the second trial.

If you do take on this trial, I encourage you to share your experiences, observations, and insights in the forums.  It will help others decide which polarity most appeals to them.

As you begin to apply polarized thinking to your career, you’ll begin to see just how useful it is.  You’ll find it easier to relate to your co-workers and associates as you gain an understanding of their position on the polarity spectrum.  And most importantly, you’ll find yourself feeling more motivated and driven to act, either because you’re transcending fear or conquering it.



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