As Dr. Ann Roe observed about an ideal society…
Perhaps one way of approaching the problem is to think of what might be an ideal situation. If we were writing a science fiction of life on another planet, and we wanted to picture a society in which people and their occupations would be ideally matched, and also ideally fitted into the social order, what would be the necessary conditions?
We shall assume that the inhabitants of this planet are basically humans, that they vary in capacities and interests, and different occupations have different requirements. Perhaps to simplify the problems, we might also assume, this being an ideal society, that there are no social or racial barriers to entrance into any occupation.
What else would we have to assume in order to bring it about that every individual in the culture could find an occupation which was suited to him… for which he was suited… and which he could achieve satisfaction of basic needs? We need not assume that the occupation must satisfy all his basic needs.
We would have to make quite a few further assumptions about the nature of the society. It would have to include a wide range of possible occupations, and a reasonable balancing of them with respect to the total capacities of the population. It would have to be a society in which the dull, uninteresting, personally unrewarding jobs were minimized. Even then, those which remained would have to be differently structured and allocated, perhaps rotated in some way.
It would have to be a society with extremely broad tolerance for individual variations. It would also have to be a society which permitted or encouraged some experimentation, and considerable mobility, geographical and otherwise.
It would have to be one in which education was available in varied forms and without restriction. There would also have to be, either as part of the educational process or otherwise, some means for acquainting everyone in the culture with at least the major features of every available type of occupation, the requirements for the occupation, and even more importantly the subtle features which would determine the potentialities for satisfyingness to different kinds of persons.
With respect the individual, we would also have to assume that he knows himself… at least that the process of growing up includes much more development of full, conscious awareness of himself and his needs and primary satisfiers than our society has ever dreamed of providing. This means not only that he must develop a self-concept in accord with reality, but that it must be acceptable to him as well as known to him.
Perhaps, then, if all these things were true, and doubtless others we have not thought of, it would be possible for each person finally to make an appropriate selection of occupation.
Putting the problem in this form illuminates many phases of it. There is no society on earth, or likely to be in the near future, which even approximates these conditions. There is none in which occupational knowledge and unrestricted training are available to anyone, let alone everyone. Even more important, there is none in which the development of mature self-knowledge and self-acceptance is a matter of direct concern to the society. None, in fact, in which this is not achieved in spite of social pressures when it is achieved at all.
These words were written over fifty years ago, but we as a society have not moved substantially towards this ideal. Today with the power of the internet,and professional networks like Linkedin, we can help achieve the ideal society. We believe that each person has uniqueness and excellence in him/her. Yet almost all of us are trained to take for granted some of our best skills and talents, and even to encourage others to overlook them. For this reason, many people accept the belief no one really knows himself. To this they add, no one can see himself/herself objectively.
The individual who is not afraid to try can get to know herself as a growing, progressing person. She can identify the pattern of her inner motivation. She can identify how she performs This makes it possible for her to take charge of her own life and career development, and, with the help of others, influence the course these will follow.
She can identify her excellence and re-channel its direction. This helps her resolve most problems of career shock that are likely to hit one person in five every year as jobs become obsolete at a faster rate. A person with CAREER FREEDOM knows his/her strengths and how to use them well how to adapt them to meet changing conditions and in what proportion to develop them to enhance job satisfaction and progress. He/she also knows how to communicate what these strengths are to employers and clients in finding opportunity for them to be expressed.