Find your hybrid professional identities

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Hybrid professionals are individuals who have figured out how to add their professional identities together and work from the intersections.  Not only have they discovered points of integration between their identities, they’re able to access these integrations and use them to their advantage.  This can appear as unique skills, ideas, habits, approaches, and insights that others do not typically have.  Oftentimes, these qualities are what make a hybrid more effective or valuable at their work.

While many people move from one career to another, acquiring a list of jobs and job titles, the difference with hybrids is they combine job experiences together.  For instance I know an office manager who decided to leave his job, go to cooking school for fun, and afterwards became a life coach. He is a hybrid because he applies a culinary mindset with office management to create easy to follow “life recipes” for his clients.  I’ve also met a lawyer with an MBA who has an appetite for adventure and outdoor expeditions.  He spends his time consulting with entrepreneurs but uses extensive outdoor analogies to help them understand how to solve business problems.

Instead of a string of past roles and responsibilities, hybrids are masters of combining multiple professional identities together into a robust recipe.  Whereas non-hybrids are a list of ingredients, hybrids are a dish full of flavors that meld together.

Here’s how to find your hybrid professional identities.  It’s a simple equation:

First, identify your primary professional identities.  These are the ones that are core to you and appear the majority of time in your work (narrow it down to three or four max).  Even if you have a singular job title (like Director of Marketing) think of the major roles you play within that title.  Or, if you are a freelancer or independent contractor, think of the primary identities you promote or want to be known for with your clients.

Second, create a Venn diagram, and list one professional identity per circle.

Third, begin to add each circle together.  Identity A + Identity B= Identity AB and so forth.

Last, notice what’s in the middle.  What do you get when you mix identities A, B, and C together?

Notice that you have four hybrid identities in the intersections if you have three primary professional identities- AB, AC, BC, and ABC (and nine hybrid identities if you have four primary professional identities).  Surprised?  Some of these might feel more solid than others, and that's okay.  Pay attention to the ones that feel strong in your work and the ones that don't.  Just because the combinations are possible doesn't mean you're using them all.

This is an art more than a science.  Have fun examining and playing with the combinations as they’re revealed. Feel free to rename them (for instance, Director of Solving Complaints or Chief Fun Enforcer).  The purpose of this exercise is both to identify who you really are in your work (your primary professional identities), and to become more aware of the unique things you’re capable of (that you may or may not already be aware of). 

Hybridity can change and evolve over time, so revisit it as you progress in your career.  And, be sure to showcase and discuss your hybrid talents with your team, employer, clients, and colleagues.  You might be surprised by where the conversation goes.