Career Courage - Learn to be Imperfect: Move Forward with Your Goals!


  • Do you feel stuck, trapped and confused about your career direction?
  • Are you running out of career ideas and job postings to explore?
  • Keep blaming yourself for past decisions, and wondering what if?
  • Feel fearful about the future?
Read on to learn about Adler's Psychological Theory of Courage. Get Unstuck!

I loved learning about the psychological theories of Alfred Adler, while I was a Graduate student at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. Unlike many other paradigms of Psychology which begin and end with the individual, Adlerian Psychologists also analyze the social milieau of an individual.

The concepts of belonging, social responsibility and social embeddedness really resonated with me.  Alfred Adler (1870–1937) was a Social Psychologist and one of the founding members of the Psychoanalytical Society of Vienna. He was a contemporary of Freud, not a pupil of Freud. However, Freud was excellent at marketing and self promotion. Hence, Freud is still famous today though most of his theories have been discarded. Alternately, Adler focused on his patients not on himself. In fact, during his lifetime, Alfred Adler never wrote a single book about his theories. Post-humously, his adherents began to gather and consolidate the body of his work. His ideas were so ahead of his time that they are still fresh 100 years later. His theories have formed the basis of modern, Psychology. In the business world a buzzword is "corporate social responsibility" however, this concept was posited a 100 years ago by Adler.

One area of Adlerian Psychology I'd like to share with you is his concept of courage and his phrase "the courage to be imperfect." He defined courage as the willingness to take risks when you don’t know the consequences or when you think the consequences may be negative. The willingness or the courage to be imperfect is what moves us towards growth.

When someone is discouraged in the Adlerian sense, they may freeze due to fear or they may feel stuck. Instead of taking action, they complain, blame, make excuses or defend their choices. Over time, they may convince themselves that inaction is the best course of action. Adlerian Psychologists posit that a lack of courage underlies all neuroses and problems which individuals and societies experience. He encouraged people to strive towards goals even though they weren’t perfect individuals and the conditions weren’t perfect.

In the shifting realities of a modern career, it is easy to become fearful, lack courage and even become discouraged about the future. Navigating a career path is more complex today than ever before. We no longer are expected to, nor do we necessarily want to, follow in our parents' career footsteps. There is a baffling array of career choices, career challenges and even job titles. According to the 2 primary employment directories for job categories; O’Net (USA) and NOC (Canada) there are over 10,000 primary categories of jobs! Additionally, with technological advances and globalization, new categories of jobs are continually being created. In fact, there are jobs today – which didn't exist 6 months ago. Thus, as a career counselor my role is to encourage and educate my clients and help them persevere despite adversity in their personal or professional lives.

One of the most common job search errors is not researching job categories. Often my clients come to me frustrated, since they have only searched for a handful of potential job titles or roles and have run out of ideas. Don't narrow your job search too quickly. Most people who are not in the career field, only utilize 5-10% of the total types of jobs, which they are eligible for. They just don’t know what is out there or how to position themselves for a career transition. This is where thorough, self exploration, guided exploration with a counselor and even formal career testing is essential.

Remember, each job will position you for the next job. However, it is of paramount importance to accept yourself and do the best you can. Work towards your goals with courage and self-reliance and you are more likely to reach your goals. At least will have tried and will have a sense of progress. When performing a self-assessment, I help guide my clients through a process of exploration. Below are some preliminary questions to consider as you begin your career exploration process.

Questions to help you get unstuck in your career exploration?

1. What activities do you enjoy?
2. How do you like to spend your time?
3. What do you feel are your talents, skills and abilities?
4. What experience can you draw upon for a new career position?
5. What makes you unique?
6. What characteristics of a job are needed to provide you with long-term energy and motivation?
7. What elements of your work and career do you value most?

Have the courage to explore other career options and if needed, face a career transition!

Here are my other related posts about Career Transition and Career Exploration
Career Transition Action Plan
Career Transition Confusion? 7 Types of Psychological Motivation
Career Transition And 4 Stage Career Planning: Bitten Off More Than You Can Chew?

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 Author: © 2010 - All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen, MA, Counseling Psychology,CPRP. Licensed Counselor. Virtual Career Counselor and Career Transition Specialist.

"Virtual Career Counseling: helping business professionals, reach their career potential!"

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