Tag Archives: careers

Oppositional Thoughts…Volume 4

Here is Volume 4 of my Oppositional Thoughts…They are designed to gently puncture some of the slightly precious life advice out there, and to complexify overly simplistic homilies, that make life appear a lot simpler than it is in reality.

You can find Volume 3 here and Volume 2 here and Volume 1 here

Oppositional thoughts…There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you..never read Dan Brown obviously….

Oppositional thoughts…if you enrol in a stunt academy do they put you on a decelerated learning program?

Oppositional thoughts…Life has no limitations, except the ones you make…so if I jumped off a building I could fly if I tried hard?

Oppositional thoughts…Letting go of your dreams results in mediocrity….not if you had the dreams I’ve been having….

Oppositional thoughts… Why do I feel like I need a stiff drink after hearing a “sobering account”?

Oppositional Thoughts.Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.sorry, what was that again?

Oppositional thoughts…Let go and it will be yours forever…I let one go and it’s true, it hung around forever…

Oppositional thoughts…Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter…unless they are the police or a judge….

Oppositional thoughts…”Arrogance, immaturity & lack of experience are unattractive at work”..so presumably save all that for your friends

Oppositional thoughts…procrastination explained…later, perhaps tomorrow

Oppositional thoughts…I don’t have a career story, actually it is just a sentence. I got life….

Oppositional thoughts… Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools. -Napoleon Bonaparte” ..before lose & Waterloo

Oppositional thoughts…flash mobs are all very entertaining, but I wish they would stop flash flooding

Oppositional thoughts..I was sitting in my underpants when I opened the job offer letter. I was so excited, they asked me to get off the bus

Oppositional thoughts…I saw this man with the worst wig ever, I was so helpless with laughter, that the panel terminated my interview

Oppositional thoughts…you know when a job interview is going badly when they tell you to put them back on….

Oppositional thoughts…when I read that reality is perception I could not believe my eyes

Oppositional thoughts…I was busy completing an online job application, when my supervisor interrupted to continue my 1st day induction…

Oppositional thoughts..I was doing a stress imagery exercise at work with my eyes shut. It failed when my fare grabbed the steering wheel

Oppositional thoughts…@davidawinter #question yourself..why does he want me to question myself, can’t he be bothered asking me questions?

Oppositional thoughts… After six hours of questioning myself I reluctantly had to let myself go due to a lack of evidence or witnesses

Oppositional thoughts… what if I did it all because the lady loves milk tray, and then I discover it was all a Twix?

Oppositional thoughts…after my marathon effort all I heard was snickers and wispas. It mars my efforts to Hershey said I was fruit and nut

Oppositional thoughts…only a fool tries to climb the corporate ladder.  Smarter folks take the stairs, and the smartest take the elevator

Oppositional thoughts…employee engagement is just intention, but employee marriage is commitment. Is your employer prepared to do it?

Oppositional Thoughts…In life you are either a passenger or a pilot, it’s your choice…but on a plane, one of those is called hijacking

Oppositional Thoughts…the harder it is to get into a school the better it is…Mine must have been brilliant, I needed a Judge to send me.

Oppositional thoughts…authenticity is essential for professional speakers and that goes double for the ghost writers of their books…

Oppositional thoughts…There are no mistakes in life, just lessons…but what if your life has been one long playtime (trans: recess)?

Oppositional thoughts…be thankful for what you have…but I have deeply ingrained ingratitude, should I be grateful for that?

Oppositional thoughts…Life is 2 short 4 U 2 B pulled down by negative, jealous, cynical people…so how long would be about right?

Oppositional thoughts…live badly today, for tomorrow it will become your past and make the present seem better than what went before…

Oppositional thoughts…there’s always a way if you are committed…Well first I got myself committed, but there was no way out after that

Oppositional thoughts…to succeed at work try something new each day, and if that fails you can always try actually working

Oppositional thoughts…I tried it out, but was told by a policeman to put it away or risk getting arrested…

Oppositonal thoughts… It is never a good idea to have your work spread over many fields lest people confuse it for manure….

Oppositional thoughts…I have been described as the superglue of our team..not to be trusted near lavatory seats and always the sticking PT

Oppositional thoughts…getting into medicine: careers seminar. . ? It is simple to get into medicine, just push down and twist the cap

Oppositional thoughts…I worked hard to get my team engaged, but now I am, having second thoughts about marrying them? Big of me or bigamy?

Oppositional thoughts..Work on what you love and it won’t feel like work.. I used my life partner as my desk, but the pens kept rolling off

Oppositional thoughts…Just because there is a screen between us doesn’t mean you, or I, are less human.. just that one of is incarcerated.

Oppositional thoughts…”If we don’t start, it’s certain we can’t finish.” Not True. I didn’t start and the boss said I was finished!

Oppositional thoughts..if you believe you can do it, the odds go way up..True.  I believe I can fly: odds of me being an idiot went way up

Oppositional thoughts…do you remember how unique you once were?…true everyone was unique once except me…..

Oppositional Thoughts…be nice to the people you meet on the way to the top…if you are not serious about getting to the top that is.

Oppositional Thoughts…SWOT – Silly Way Of Trying…to convince everyone that the future is less complex and more ordered than it really is

Oppositional thoughts…to be a good singer you need to be able to hold a note, but the only ones I held were to ransom….

Oppositional Thoughts…I finally found myself, but when I found out what I was doing, I wish I hadn’t bothered.

Oppositional Thoughts…I thought I’d found myself, but I was unable to pick myself out at the identity parade

Oppositional thoughts…Identity Parade…is that like a Mardi Gras parade for people with multiple personalities?

Working with a terminal illness

My late Aunt Sylvia Cox was an inspiration to me. She was not only my Aunt, she was a teacher at my High School.  Her enthusiasm for life and her naturally exclamatory style engendered a sense of fun and a sense of the possible in those around her.  Whether it was taking us for “puddle rides” in her ancient Morris Minor Traveller which involved swerving alarmingly across country lanes to hit puddles of water that would splash up through the hole in the floor of the car, or fitting 3 adults and 2 children into a Lancia Fulvia 2+2 sports car for a 3 hour drive to the Pleasure Beach at Blackpool, she was always innovative and fun.

When soon after retiring she was diagnosed with cancer she decided to keep in touch with her friends and family around the world using Skype.  She was the person who introduced Skype to me when she called me on it and told me!  She also used Skype to keep us all informed of her progress, which may have been difficult for her, but was something I was very grateful for. I am proud that a techboy like me was introduced to a new technology by his retired and ill Aunt.  It spoke volumes about her attitude to her terminal illness.

In many ways the passing of Steve Jobs reminded me of the similarities between my Aunt and the CEO of Apple.  They both faced questions of who to tell and when and how about their condition.  And they both used I.T. as part of that communication strategy.  I never thought my memories of my Aunt would be modified or linked in any way with Steve Jobs, which just goes to show how a person’s memory and life continues to grow and inspire one years after their passing.

For those still in the workplace living with a diagnosis of a terminal or chronic condition, not only do they have to deal with their emotional response to their condition, they have the very real dilemma of deciding what to tell their boss and work colleagues. Not everyone will want to be as open as my Aunt was with her colleagues, friends and family.

There are two ways of looking at this situation, the formal or legal one, and the career development approach. I have no ?legal training and so what I can say about this from a formal perspective is limited and readers are strongly advised to take advice from appropriately qualified independent legal advisors. If you are a member of a union, they should be able to assist.

The first point to make is that you have a duty to notify promptly your employer of your illness or incapacity and of the estimated duration of the absence as a condition of any sick leave you are going to take. Employers have a right to demand an explanation for unexplained absences from work, indeed I am told by lawyers that it could be argued that under Occupational Health and Safety laws employers who do not inquire into absences may be abdicating their duty of care to their employees. Consequently you should expect management to request information about any absences.

Ok, so much for the formalities, how in practice can you maximise the chances of keeping your job while at the same time dealing with the emotional shock and upheavals that accompany a diagnosis of a chronic or terminal condition??The first point hardly needs making it is so obvious, but you are likely to be in a highly emotionally charged state around the time of medical investigations and diagnosis. When under such stress, we do not make the best decisions, and understandably our focus is on ourselves, our well-being and our loved ones. The employer generally ranks very low?in our priority list, however the remuneration they provide may well rank as important. Consequently you need to give yourself the best chance possible of communicating clearly with your employer. Try writing out or talking out with a sensible friend, what you want to tell your employer. This will help you collect your thoughts and communicate?more coherently when the time comes. Take a little time to gather your thoughts about work and to decide on your strategy.

Do not be tempted to quit in an emotional state. Think through your actions. If you are going to require the financial support of a regular income during the course of your illness, the stresses of continuing to work need to be balanced against the stresses of being unemployed and being financially insecure. Even if you do not need to work?for the money, think very carefully about the sense of social support, recognition and social contribution that can accompany work. Do not throw away such things lightly.

Despite your personal circumstances, the reality is that work goes on for your employer, and they have a responsibility to their other employees, customers and shareholders. Consequently, you might want to consider framing your discussions with your employer in terms of how you are going to continue to meet performance expectations. Do not be tempted to personalise the situation or become resentful if the employer seems to be coldly indifferent to your circumstances. If your goal is to continue to make a professional contribution, then you need to behave professionally. You are likely to be treated a whole lot better if you maintain a dignified and supportive approach to your colleagues and boss, than if you simply “trade” on your illness.

Openness in communication with your manager is an essential for most people at work. Understand the nature and course of your diagnosis and ask your medical advisors about how your illness and treatment is likely to affect your performance at work. Test yourself so that you are fully confident you know as much about the impact of your illness as possible and remember there are no stupid questions if you do not know ask your doctor and ask again for clarification it is part of their job. When you fully understand the nature of your illness, plan out how you see this translating into your work situation. How long realistically will you be able to continue with your duties? What modifications to your duties or workplace will be required, when and for how long? What are the realistic best and worst case scenarios relating to?work? Once you have set out these parameters you are in a good position to have a meeting with your manager, where you can set out all of this information for them.

If your condition is one that is not likely to impact upon your work or your work colleagues, or not for a long time, then your condition is not a work-related issue at this stage and there is no obvious reason to inform your managers about it. However if your condition is going to impact upon your work, or is going to be plainly obvious to your managers and colleagues you should not delay in discussing the matter with your boss.

You need to decide on a preferred “communications policy”. In other words, you need to decide who you want to share?your diagnosis with. Some people will prefer to limit knowledge of their condition to a manager and no one else, whereas others will want the information disseminated more broadly. You need to discuss this with your manager and make it very clear what your preference is. Remember your manager may well have an obligation to report your case?to their superiors and so on.

Even if you have close friends in the workplace, your boss should still be the first (or a very close second) work colleague you inform. The last thing you want are rumours starting and your boss hearing second- hand. Your goal is to get your boss on-side as a supporter. Schedule a meeting at a quiet time, such as the end of the day or early morning when there is less chance of interruptions. Indicate that you want to discuss something of importance, and that you will need at least 30 mins to an hour. Indicate that you need to see them reasonably urgently. After the meeting, follow up with an email, or a note (keep copies of either), politely thanking them for their time and setting out briefly your understanding of what was discussed and what was agreed.

My golden rule of all communications is to get it in writing. Keep a dated written record of all meetings, and communications with people at work. Write up notes as soon as possible after face-to-face meetings or even?corridor conversations, and date them. Keep the records up to date and limit your entry to the facts of what occurred do not include any defamatory opinions or reflections. If someone reduced you to tears, say so, but do not write down a lot of personal attacks about the other person. Why go to all this trouble? Simply to cover yourself in the?event that the employer becomes unreasonable or reneges on an agreement.

If you fear that being open with your boss is likely to result in your sacking, it is likely that your boss would also sack you for any regular or long absences for treatment, so unless the impact of your illness is not going to impact on your work, you have little to lose in informing your boss (and lots to gain, because you are actually helping your boss to manage you better).

Finally, I have known cases where the most irritating, anti-establishment employees who were convinced their boss hated their guts, found after diagnosis of a terminal illness that the boss became their greatest supporter. Most people (and that includes most bosses!) are compassionate, reasonable people, but like most people, they can be cold-hearted or unreasonable if approached in the wrong way. Be honest, be proud and be positive. Nobody and no employer could ask for more.

(Dedicated to the memory of my Aunt Sylvia Cox)

Career development better than sex or an alternative?

Career development has a yearly low point about June, but the good news is we are on an upward curve, until about September.  After that, if you are a Career Development professional or careers author looking at launching a book, forget about it and take a long vacation till January.  I am basing my advice on the number of people who are searching on Google using the terms Career Development.  I have been playing with Google trends, one of their analytic services that provides information on the volumes of searches on certain keywords over time.  The trend pattern for the search term “Career Development” is in the first graphic below.

The pattern is interesting because it repeats more or less in the same fashion every year since 2004 (the earliest that Google Trends presents).  Within each calendar year, searches peak in the Jan- March quarter and tail off to a low around mid-year.  They then build again in the third quarter before collapsing catastrophically in December.

Looking at the graph, it is interesting that major events such as the global financial crisis do not show up in terms increased search activity.  It suggests that “career development” is a search that people make irrespective of global financial conditions, but not irrespective of personal concerns – for instance swopping career planning for Christmas shopping in December.

The figures are largely dominated as you’d expect by US searches.  The data for other countries is generally so small and incomplete that it shows no sensible pattern.  So the other possible “story” in this data could be that career development searches peak after major holiday times.  I.e. straight after Christmas, after Easter, and at the end of the long summer vacation and do I detect a small peak around Thanksgiving (towards the end of November) as well?  Well it is hardly news that newspapers are full of “New Years” resolutions and life planning type articles, but the other periods of peaks are less obvious.  Do we need this time away from work to reflect on where we are going?  Is it breathing space that creates the demand for career development ideas?

The second point about these trends that is clear is that the term “career development” is being searched less and less each year.  The downward trend is unmissable, but what is causing it?

Maybe the term “Career Development” is less resonant than it was half a decade ago.  If that is the case, it is ironic given that some professional groups such as the Career Development Association of Australia recently changed their name to include this term.   Equally another group I belong to, the National Career Development Association in the US, may want to take note.  When we compare the search pattern on the simpler term “Careers” we see a very different and more positive story.

Firstly the term is being searched more often than it was.  Are we ready to rebadge as Careers Professionals or CIs – “Careers International” members, which captures the increasingly popular term and takes it global.  Furthermore this search term does seem to be sensitive to world events showing the strong upward trend coinciding with the worldwide economic deterioration.

The term is also more consistently searched throughout the year and does not appear to be as subject to the seasonal variations of the “Career development term”, other than it shows the characteristic terminal drop coinciding with Christmas.  Honestly it’s almost enough to make you an atheist!!

One possibility is that the term “careers” is more closely associated with “jobs” and “employment” whereas “career development” might be seen as a more disconnected, reflective activity. Some support for this hypothesis can be seen in the trend graph for “jobs” which resembles the “careers” search trend graph more than the “career development” search graph.

The term “coaching” also displays seasonal variation and something of a slight decline over the last five years. If anything, the interesting aspect of the coaching search pattern is the apparent peak just before Christmas evident in most years, as well as the mid year slump and end of year shut down.  Not sure what to make of that.  Perhaps people seek coaching to improve their performance in a role they are struggling to stay motivated in.  Then if and when that fails to address their malaise, they look not to stay in the role, but to change careers, and hence they then seek career development.  Just a wild stab in the dark.

And talking of wild stabs in the dark, the last graph throws up a somewhat unexpected relationship between Career Development and Sex.

“Sex” searches have definitely drooped since the Global Financial Crisis making them more labile than “career development” but they do show a cyclic pattern.  If you look at the trends for searches on “sex” it seems to show almost the opposite of what is happening with searches for “career development”.  Thus “sex” searches peak when “career development” searches wilt.  In other words, when a person is not thinking about career development, their thoughts turn in a very different direction!  I am really not sure what the implications of this are for those of us who proclaim a passion and enduring interest in career development. You might think it, but I could not possibly say….

Carole King Tapestry – Albums that speak volumes about careers and life

Carole King Tapestry – Albums that speak volumes about careers and life.

I am always out of step.  I was a huge Elton John Fan, just when his career dipped in the early 1980s and David Bowie was uber cool.   Now a couple of months ago a friend introduced me to the delights of Billy Joel’s Songs from the Attic, recorded during my early 1980s Elton phase, but comprised of songs composed in the early 1970s, I will review that in career terms in another post, but I want to turn to my favourite period, the early 1970s for a classic album that I discovered only a few months ago – Carole King’s Tapestry.  As I said I am always out of step.

It opens with I feel the earth move – which opens like a lovely V8 1970s muscle car. A big bass line to go with earth moving, skies tumbling, and a lovely career word – mellow. The song also talks of our limits of control and our impulsive reactions – good chaos notions.  Have you achieved total mellowness in your career? This was something to aspire to in the late 1960s and early 70s.  I declare a campaign to bring back mellow in the career counseling lexicon – a feeling of quiet contentment, reflective happiness and a lack of anxiety – something many of my clients would like to achieve.

So far away (doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore) – this for me reminds me of the transient nature of work, and the incessant travel involved and the transient relationships one develops.  Carole sings “if I could only work out this life my way” – how often have we felt this or heard this from our clients.   A song about closing our mind to the loneliness of travel – essentially change and how we manage it and maintain stability of relationships and place.

Its too late – a song about depression at the inevitability of change as people grow apart despite their best efforts to hold things together – the notion of slow shift or drift that can leave us feeling disenfranchised, lost and despairing.  “I feel like a fool” – a line reflecting that feeling that there must have been something more that I could have done – a plaintiff attempt at trying to rationalise the limitations on what we can control.

Home Again – “Sometimes I wonder if I am ever going to make it home again it is so far and out of site, I really need someone to talk to” .  The powerful notion of home, being grounded, being with the familiar, in a trusting place with trusting and understanding people – a call for reassurance and the certainties that home represents in the midst of constant change and travel.  It reminds me of the importance of establishing a “home” for people in transition, that amidst change and chance, people need a sense of order, that chaos has both order and change – all change and no order is too much for anyone to deal with.

Beautiful “you’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart and then people are going to treat you better, you are going to find that you are beautiful (yes you are) as you feel”.  I love the optimism of this song, if the injunction is a little too strident!  It captures the essential importance of persistence and the importance of optimism and giving.  Uplifting.  Indeed it captures some of the more important things that we as counselors are trying to achieve.

Way over yonder “…is a place that I know, where I can find shelter, from a hunger and cold, …that’s where I’m bound”.  Another song about home, security, a safe place, a happier place.  It is a song about aspiration, self-improvement, about the benefits of being able to stand proudly in “true piece of mind”.  For me this can seen as occupational daydreams, thinking optimistically about what things will be like if all goes well.

You’ve got a friend – “when you are down and troubled and you need some living care, and nothing, nothing is going right, close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there, to brighten up even your darkest night, you just call out my name and I you know wherever I am I’ll come running to see you again, Winter, Spring Summer or Fall, all you have to do is call”  –  Well I could cynically say this sounds like the advertising speil of a telephone counseling service!  Less cynically, at face value, I just love the sense of service, connection and reaching out that this song expresses.  Given recent UK surveys have suggested a startling number of 30 and 40 somethings feel lonely, disconnected and unhappy in their work, maybe we need to give more time to the notion of loneliness and work’s contribution to it.

Where you lead – “I would go to the ends of the earth.. where you lead I will follow, anywhere that you tell me to, if you need me to be with you…”  Again this could be the stalkers refrain, but again it is a song about support and connectedness.  It is making the statement that I will compromise, and that what I thought I wanted and what it turns out makes me happy are different things.

Will you love me tomorrow – A gentle song about insecurity, again a refrain about the inevitability of change – is this a transient thing or something longer lasting. It reflects the caution that wisdom dictates from bitter experience of having our commitment dishonored.

Smackwater Jack – A cautionary tale of a frustrated man who takes it out on others with his shotman “you cant talk to a man when he don’t want to understand”   – this is the line that resonates with me, thinking about some of those uncooperative or even gung ho clients, who really do not want to be there, or only want to be with you as long as you agree and validate all their ideas, which may not be appropriate.  We have to find ways of taking the shotgun from them, to disarm them before we can make any progress.

Tapestry – “an everlasting vision of the ever changing view…impossible to hold…he moved with some uncertainty as if he didn’t know” If this isn’t a song about complexity and chaos I do not know what is.  Change, uncertainty, complexity, chance events, limitations, it is all here!

(You make me feel) like a natural woman – “I used to feel uninspired and when I knew I had to face another day, lord it made me feel so tired” – I beautiful song about completion, an optimistic song about sudden and unexpected change transforming a person – the Chaos Theory idea of the Phase Shift.

I know it is a risk to over analyse anything, let alone a work of art the Tapestry represents, but rather for me it is an inspiration  see Beyond Personal Mastery ® model for more details (http://tiny.cc/mastery).

There are lot of ideas in this album that apply to our lives and careers and in there I can see a lot of messages about change, complexity, phase shifts and much more besides.  Ultimately I love the optimistic note of much of it, as well as the wisdom and recognition of limitations and uncertainty.  All in all, some useful ideas for being “mellow”. What do you think?

Using Chaos Theory of Careers in Counseling

I have just contributed a blog on the Careers in Theory site outlining step by step how I use the Chaos Theory of Careers in Counseling. Check it out here Applied Chaos: Jim Bright on putting the theory into practice http://wp.me/pCwmV-oI

Chaos theory of careers tutorial: Using the Change Perception Index

Chaos theory of careers tutorial: Using the Change Perception index CPI


The CPI is a short online inventory that is designed for use with individual clients or teams to measure reactions to change.  It can be useful when helping individuals with career, personal or organisational change.

The CPI addresses ten key factors that can significantly facilitate or impair people or teams capitalizing on change.  It is based on the Chaos Theory of Careers that states that:

  • Change is inevitable
  • People and circumstances are subject to a complex array of influences that are also changing…
  • …which means change can be unpredictable and we cannot control everything
  • We cannot always know in advance what will happen and thus we have to be comfortable with ambiguity
  • Change can be non linear – sometimes small steps lead to disproportional outcomes and vice versa
  • There is always the potential for things to change out of all recognition

An acknowledgement of these realities is an important predictor to how people will respond to change.  Failure to see these realities is likely to result in resistance, denial, stress, obstructive and destructive behavior.

Individual responses

People and groups can use four different drivers to address change and ambiguity. They are:

  • The Goal driver.  Setting goals has the effect of focussing on one point and ignoring all other sources of complexity and change.  In rapidly changing, unpredictable or far horizon situations over-reliance on this driver can lead to inflexibility and a lack of opportunity awareness.
  • The Role driver.  Dealing with change or complexity by dividing things into two simpler black and white categories can under-estimate or ignore important information, options or possibilities.  Over-reliance on this driver can lead to inflexible ‘with us or against us’ , ‘either or or’ and overly narrow options.
  • The Routine driver.  Dealing with change or complexity by establishing strict rules, routines, policies and procedures.  Over-reliance or strict adherence to this driver can lead to inflexible and unresponsive reactions to changing circumstances and exceptions to the rules, policies and procedures.
  • The Change driver.  Dealing with change by continual revision, experimentation, trial and error, pilot projects, learning, feedback, and openness to new ideas,  new market or organisational or personal conditions.

The CPI measures these 4 drivers and the following six:

  • Continual change – degree to which change is acknowledged as inevitable
  • Need for control – degree to which uncertainty is acknowledged
  • Small steps – recognition that small steps/ details can be important
  • Dramatic change – recognition that things may change profoundly
  • Pattern making – comfort with ambiguity and allowing things to emerge
  • Bigger picture – seeing things in terms bigger than personal priorities

The test consists of 50 questions online and is available from Bright and Associates online testing service at http://www.jimbright.com/tests or register to take the test directly here (payment is via paypal’s secure system – use your credit card or paypal account!)

After completing the test online that takes about 20 minutes, an instant interpretive report is generated on screen and is also emailed to the individual or test administrator. ( The test can be purchased instantly online with a credit card or via pay pal. Alternatively bulk administrations can be pre- purchased for immediate access and control over who receives the emailed report).

Figure 1 A profile graph from the CPI online report



Figure 1 shows the graph generated at the end of the interpretative report, summarising the scores on the different factors for a client of mine.  This was a person who enjoyed working overseas.  They had a work history of moving from one assignment to another.  They had a very positive attitude to change as reflected in their high scores for Continuous Change and the Change Driver.  This person had a strong sense of purpose and understood how his work was important to others in his organization, to his clients and more generally.  This is reflected in the Bigger picture score.

There were no challenges in terms of this person understanding the benefits and inevitability of change, counseling focussed around discussion of roles that provided an avenue for meaning and mattering consistent with their Bigger Picture values.

Figure 2 A  person who is very open to change and dislikes routine


Figure 2 is a profile of another person who is exceptionally open to change.  All the relevant scales show very high scores (Continuous Change, Small Steps, Radical Change, Seeing Patterns, Change Driver).   This person can be seen to be a very big picture thinker (consistent with their score on this factor). Their sense of the bigger picture and a relatively lower Need for Control score, probably allows them to be content to see how things emerge over time (Seeing Patterns score high).

In fact this person is so into change, that any attempts to get them to adhere to a routine are likely to be meet with resistance, disengagement, or even attempts to undermine, challenge or change the routine.  In some circumstances, where there is little scope for such change, such a person may be personally frustrated or even destructive.

They are more likely to best at leading change, and inspiring or reassuring others about the benefits of change.

Figure 3 A Goal driven person



Figure 3 shows a client who is open to change, and to some degree understands the uncertain nature of change. However this is counter-balanced by a high score for the Goal Driver indicating that their strong preference is to set goals as a way of managing change and reducing complexity and uncertainty.   Other strategies are less frequently used, leaving the impression of a person who likes to take charge of changeable circumstances.   They are likely to see failure in terms of setting unrealistic goals, or as an opportunity to set new goals.

Comparing the three people illustrated in figures 1 – 3, we can see how the CPI is able to distinguish quite distinct approaches and attitudes to change.  This can be very important in guiding counseling sessions or in considering vocational options and plans.   The first person looks for changing and challenging assignments that are congruent with his values and sense of purpose.  The second person looks to continually change and to avoid routine at all costs, whereas the last person likes to “tame” change though the use of goal setting.

Client 1 might struggle in roles that went against his values, Client 2 might be positively disruptive unless continually stimulated with change, and Client 3, might become rigid and stereotypical in the face of a rapidly changing environment that prevented regular goal attainment.



The Change Perception Index is a practical tool that allows HR professionals, Counselors, Coaches and Change agents to engage clients on some of the most relevant dimensions of change, and to gain insights into their client’s preferences, and responses to change.

The test can be accessed for individual purchase at http://www.jimbright.com/tests or register to take the test directly here (payment is via paypal’s secure system – use your credit card or paypal account!)

Orders of multiple administrations can be arranged by contacting Bright and Associates.

The online version is based upon the earlier pencil and paper Complexity Perception Index.  For information about the reliability and other psychometric properties of this instrument, see Bright & Pryor (2007).


Bright, J.E.H. & Pryor, R.G.L. (2007). Chaotic Careers Assessment: how constructivist and psychometric techniques can be integrated into work and life decision making. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 23 (2), 30-45.

Bright, JEH & Pryor, RGL (2007). The Complexity Perception Manual. Bright & Associates: Sydney

Pryor, RGL & Bright, JEH. (2011). The Chaos Theory of Careers. Routledge. New York.