What Color is YOUR Parachute?..

Are you feeling underwhelmed, bored or stressed in your current line of work?

When was the last time that you took an assessment of your personality?

As esoteric as the whole butterfly metamorphosis metaphor might seem (crawl, cocoon, morph, fly) I cannot think of a more accurate way to describe the virtual molting of the life that I once new.

In the early 90's, I heard about the Myers Briggs personality type indicator while dating a grad-student pursuing career counseling. I was, as she put it, "Off the charts, INFP" the Mediator-type.

A short time prior I had taken a 12 week course based on the popular job-seekers guide "What Color is Your Parachute". During the last class, we all shared our observations of each other. As I stood at the white-board writing down the top careers that everyone saw in me, "Manager at Fred Meyer" was nowhere to be found.

1 - Author of How-to books. I loved the idea, but was too insecure about the anchor of my high school English grades. Creative writing? Straight A's. Grammar?.. Not so much! Still, I loved the idea before dismissing it.

2 - Photographer.  Duh... Next!.. I mean, I loved photography too much to taint with a financial mandate. (a toxic belief I held for 12 years by this time)

3 - Teacher. Sheesh... Whatever! Not going back to school to study about how to stay in school. (teachers, forgive me, but this is where my head was in 1991. In fact, one of my wealthiest friends is a teacher/trainer/coach - so I did wake up)

4 - Architect. (insert "vinyl-record-scratching-noise" here) Apparently my profitable redesign story of the Sixth & Alder Fred Meyer store weighted this. Hmm... "Mike Brady seemed to do pretty well, and made enough to feed six kids and have a maid named Alice"

I was in this class for a reason, so I didn't hesitate to set up information interviews to learn more about career option four.  I learned enough to know that it had little resonance with my imagination.

I carried on, doing what I was doing until one day I nearly snapped. Feeling frustrated by my physiological health as a retail manager, I began to challenge everyone around me. Starting with another manager who seemed completely content in the grocery business. "Do you ever go home and ask yourself why you take dog food and toilet paper so seriously?" His face scrunched with intense contemplation before saying "No."

My chest ached as I resisted the urge to belt out "WHAT THE F### AM I DOING HERE?!!" The writing had been on the walls for years. A prior boss even told me "You're too cerebral, you think too much for this job." If this was a problem then, why am I still here?

An INFP doing an ESTJ job for too long can cause one to become a bit passive-aggressive, and I was nearing that moment. The people-pleasing mediator appeared to be my life. Quiet, introverted, reclusive - pretty much a complete inversion to my role as a retail manager.

"We are pushed by pain until we are pulled by vision." - Michael Beckwith

Long story short, I was both pushed by pain AND pulled by a greater vision for what I wanted from my life. I became frustrated enough to challenge the mind-viruses I carried since I was a kid.

Here are the top three epiphanies that led me to the ledge of leaping into a new life.




Of course I did take an accounting class to make sure I could even communicate with my accountant. Photography sales trend research to measure my risks. Technique classes, print competitions etc. But it all came to me fast and furious. As I pointed my feet in the direction of my dream, all "things" just seemed to flow more easily.

Fast-forward, nearly 20 years as a full-time entrepreneur (disguised as a photographer), I've decided it was time to look behind the curtain once again. The results?.. Notably (dare I say blogably) a large variance.

I'm now in a personality box that would've never thought to look at, with my history of introversion - ENFJ. Apparently 10 years in public speaker training, combined with another eight years exercising it, has led to a version Brian that I am a bit less familiar with.

The one that talks, teaches, speaks and directs. Decades of inner dialogue, processing my observations, has seemingly found its way to my mouth. Somewhere over the past five years, I started depriving my inner-recluse of the private time I still craved. While a full-fledged extrovert is energized by groups of people, my borderline score (I am only 5% into the "Extrovert" ranks) still wants anonymity to recharge.

Just the same, there was a huge breakthrough. What used to take three gin and tonics, to get me in front of a microphone, led to "you'd better have a good reason, for taking the mic away!" (ha - okay, not that bad)

I feel like a wind-up toy that someone spent 45+ years spinning the crank on, whispering...

"You just shut up and notice stuff for a few decades, and we'll tell you when it's okay to share what you see". 

Odd as that might sound, it all seems in perfect alignment with where this phase of my life is headed. Almost the instant that I signed a lease on my new studio, camera-room/classroom serving a duel purpose, all avenues opened up to support this new desire.

I CRAVE an opportunity to share the insights that have simplified my life. By simplify, I don't just mean to strip down, void of "stuff". I mean to truly make life easier.

How you do things. How you view things. How you say things. How to BE!.. As indirect as it might seem that I would start teaching Evernote classes - it is ancillary to making big shifts in your life.

I didn't just pass a baton to my stationary future self. I minimized my risk by maximizing the speed of my future self before I handed over my baton. Now that I've done this multiple times, it seems a natural fit for me to share these processes to smooth the process for others. This organizational architecture gets me as excited as my leap from retail manager to portrait photographer.

I woke up to realize that it wasn't career 1, 2, 3 or 4. It is Writer AND Photographer AND Teacher AND Architect. With any luck, I can soon afford my own Alice.

PLEASE - Add your name to be notified of when the next Evernote class will be. As of today, all have passed, but more are in the hopper!


Brian Geraths

Passionate for nature, life, writing and sharing, this site is mutually dedicated to my three favorite vehicles through life - Photography, Writing and Speaking. As professional photographer I was (and still am) in my favored "Observer" mode. As writer, these observations exposed a deeper understanding into ethics, authenticity and leadership. As speaker, I get to be selfish. In giving we gain - big! By helping you to discover your own authenticity, passion and where you too are a leader, I get a huge pang of fulfillment. Yes, I am a giver - the most selfish sort of person that ever was. (that is, once you realize how great the results of giving truly are)