Are You a Promoter or a Preventer?

How much risk are you willing to take? (courtesy of Condominium Insurance Review)

In life and at work, there are two kinds of people. That is, if you believe psychologists Heidi Grant Halvorson and E. Tory Higgins in their fascinating article in HBR.

The first, promotion-focused people, see their goals as a way to advance forward. They zoom in on the rewards that can be realised when goals are achieved. Eager to "play to win", they like to dream big and stretch their imaginations in whatever they do.

Risk takers and gamblers, promotion-focused folks like to do stuff quickly. Action oriented, they love to let their momentum carry them forward, and are buoyantly optimistic about their chances of success.

Unfortunately, all that enthusiastic entrepreneurial fervour also means that these guys are less likely to have a contingency plan. If the sh*t hits the fan, they're going to be rained out of their parade. For them, this is the price that they need to pay.

On the other side of the fence, we have the prevention-focused folks. Seeing their goals as responsibilities, they prefer to stay on the bright side of the tried-and-tested road.

Worrying about the worst case scenarios, prevention-focused guys are often careful, methodical and meticulous. They ensure that they do not lose what they have, and work towards maintaining the status quo. Often, they keep a careful watch over what they do, and are great with details.

Risk adverse, analytical and problem solvers by nature, prevention-focused people are better students of experience. They are pessimists who prefer to go through each activity with a fine-toothed comb.

Naturally, we all fall somewhere along the spectrum of promotion-prevention.

Some of us are more gung-ho about starting new businesses or embarking on fresh projects. We are willing to brave the winds to invest money, time and energy in risky endeavours.

Others, however, prefer to take the tried and tested path to success. We prefer to work in large and stable organisations, and are more comfortable following clear and established career paths en route to climbing the corporate ladder.

Profession-wise, there is a distinct divide between the two personality and psychological profile types.

If you're the promoter-focused sort of person, you're probably better off in jobs like marketing, advertising, design, video production, art curation, sales, and business development. On the other hand, if you're the prevention-focused sort of person, jobs in accounting, finance, tax consulting, security, emergency services, and healthcare may be more appropriate.

Do you prefer to win or not to lose? Which role would suit you better?

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