a.k.a. Mentor, Helper, Guardian, Protector, Supporter
Path to create value: Missionary
Missionary is an individual whose biggest drive is to help others directly. Most missionaries are highly empathic, have a strong personal sense of mission (as the name suggests!) and are eager to compromise on their level of comfort or sacrifice a large portion of their free time to serve others.
Missionaries feel the happiest when they see the smile on the face of the person whom they have just helped. They highly value non-material qualities at work, such as integrity, equality, and diversity.
Missionaries work in all circles of the society: at schools, hospitals, non-governmental organizations, as freelancing handymen and experts—but not only. You can also find professionals with a missionary mindset in the corporate world as they can build special bonds with strategic clients.
STRENGTHS AT WORKPLACE
Missionaries have a personal credo and inner sense of motivation that their employers don’t need to worry about. For the missionary, the positive feedback from the beneficiaries of their work is always the best motivation to keep on working. Therefore, in the eyes of their employers, missionaries are easy-going, self-sufficient, and low maintenance employees. They are not attention-seekers, they don’t play strategic games at work.
Instead, they focus on merit, which is highly appreciated by their superiors. For this reason, missionaries often receive the credit of trust, a lot of personal space at work, and a free hand to arrange their workplace and working schedule their way.
Natural Happiness at Work
Missionaries are not materialistic. They don’t focus on the salary and working benefits at work as much as on developing the everyday sense of satisfaction. They also develop reasonable expectations towards their bosses and the rest of their environment, and don’t expert fireworks. When they think, “career,” they primarily think about their clients’ smiling faces—rather than about professionals titles, standing on stage and talking to thousands of people, or money piling up on their bank account.
They reach out for happiness every single day and enjoy the moment of serving another person. Missionaries don’t torture themselves with constant questions such as, “What is the logical next step in my career?”, “How can I get promoted right now?”, or “Does my boss see how much I contribute?” They can chill and trust that they are on the right track—just because their clients tell them so. This attitude makes them naturally happy at work.
The Ability to Understand the Client
Missionaries are empathic and relation-oriented. They aim to understand other points of view and read the specific needs of their clients and colleagues. Therefore, they usually develop good, deep, long-lasting relations with the beneficiaries of their work. They are the happiest when they see a client coming back to order service from them once again—for a missionary, it is a sign that correctly identified the client’s needs, and that their work reached the expected standards. The happy look on the client’s face means much more to them than a salary raise or a handshake from the boss.
The Ability to Build Bonds
Trust is the currency of the future—it’s what all leaders and company owners understand today. In general, it is much harder to regain a customer whom you once lost, than to attract a new customer. This is also the very reason why companies and organizations care about their public relations and public image, and why they invest in communication with their consumers and a broad range of charity activities. This is also the reason why companies prefer to hire candidates who are naturally oriented to the clients’ needs.
Missionaries are priceless in their environment because they can build trust effortlessly, and without any incentives to do so. Developing a relationship based on mutual trust is a priority to them, and they are genuine in their intentions—which their clients can smell and appreciate. Therefore, employers value them and eagerly put them on the frontline of customer relations.
Precision and Diligence
Missionaries aim to amaze their clients with their work. The imagination of a happy client’s face motivates them to do their diligence and deliver flawless projects. They can spend extensive amounts of time and effort polishing all the details before presenting the outcome of their work to the recipients.
They have a desire to beat their own performance every single day. In the long run, their sustained effort yields substantial improvement to the quality of their work: they become indispensable, irreplaceable experts in their discipline.
Missionaries usually don’t need much guidance and micromanagement from their bosses. They know their goals and are self-sufficient at work. Whenever they encounter a bottleneck, they first attempt to deal with the obstacle on their own and without assistance—and only ask for help when they absolutely need to.
For this reason, they often come up with new solutions and little life hacks at work and rarely bother their bosses without necessity. As independent thinkers, missionaries also don’t tend to build too strong bonds with their bosses. If their boss doesn’t fulfill their expectations, or they find their working environment dysfunctional, they don’t hesitate to apply for another job elsewhere. After all, they fully focus on serving the client and there are many paths to fulfill this mission, not just one.
The Opportunity To Start an Independent Practice
Many missionaries work as independent professionals, namely as freelancers and entrepreneurs. However, you can also meet missionaries working at public institutions and private companies. If you are one of those missionaries-employees, then the good news is: by building bonds with your clients, you also open new possibilities for your future career. Namely, one efficient and safe way of launching a small business is to ship relations with clients beyond your current workplace and open a new, independent practice.
Yes, missionaries can freelance too! They just need to first make sure that they have enough potential clients—people who benefitted from their services before and are willing to come back—as they are as big on sales and self-promotion as linchpins.
Some employers try to prevent themselves from this scenario by structuring the contracts in a specific way. For instance, they include a clause that forbids employees from starting a new practice in the same field for a few years after the contract comes to the end.
However, many companies and the vast majority of public institutions don’t do that— they feel that their position in the market is secure, and they don’t want to have bad blood with former employees. If you work for a public institution, it can even happen that they will encourage you and agree to pay for your professional courses, once you decide to make a major move in your professional development and start your own initiative.
WEAKNESSES AT WORKPLACE AND CAREER PITFALLS
The Need to Meet the Beneficiary
Missionaries cannot feel fully satisfied from work as long as they are not in touch with their beneficiaries. It can become an issue when the nature of the job doesn’t allow missionaries to get in direct contact with their clients, or when their working conditions suddenly change so that they lose this contact.
For instance, in the times of the corona crisis, lots of freelance writers, coaches, and other experts had to seek employment—as the new conditions changed the whole game for them. Many freshly employed writers had previously served directly to their clients and had closely collaborated on the purpose and content of every piece of writing. Now, once they found employment in large companies writing massive commercial pieces such as international grant applications, they were given small chunks of the work and got instructed to report to the head of the team rather than to the client.
In these new conditions, many professional writers lost overall satisfaction from work or even got depressed. They just could not adapt to this working style despite good working benefits and the sense of working stability.
Sometimes, Lack of Compromise with the Boss
Between two types of relations at work, namely employer-employee, and client-provider, missionaries have a clear preference for the latter. They aim to form bonds with the persons whom they serve and do not focus as much on building bonds with their superiors. They are also conscious that in their domain, they are the experts with more in-depth knowledge than their boss would ever have. Although there are exceptions, for most missionaries, the boss is only a figure responsible for logistics and assessment of their work. They rarely treat their boss as an authority, a role model, or a friend.
This approach can backfire when it comes to promotions and building careers in the traditional sense of the word. In the real world, it often happens that professionals get acknowledged not because they are the best specialists in their field, but rather because they are capable and they can promote themselves and their work best.
Lack of Self-Navigation Skills
For the same reason, missionaries often feel lost in the job market. Although they are wonderful providers of value, they can get difficulties with steering themselves in the open market, especially in critical situations, e.g., when all of a sudden they lose the employer whom they used to work with for many years.
In general, missionaries don’t focus on building a resume in their professional lives. Therefore, after many years of working in one place and building relations with their clients without thinking about professional certifications, building an online presence, or looking for influential mentors in their field, they might feel that their resumes are empty and unattractive. They might also feel alone and isolated in the job market. In the end, they often feel undervalued as professionals—they feel that they don’t get as much recognition for their work and as many opportunities as they deserve. And, it is often true.
Most missionaries are introverts who despise public presentations more than anything in the world. Introverts have as much competitive advantage in the job market as extraverts—but only those who know when to push themselves and who can get out of their comfort zone once in a while.
You need to remember that today’s world doesn’t favor hiding behind an avatar on the Internet and running from public presentations “in real life”. Even as an introvert, you need to invest in at least basic presentation skills. Luckily, practically any skill in the world can be acquired by nurture, including public presentations! So, invest in yourself and you will see that this investment will quickly pay back.
Lack of Capitalistic Thinking
Missionaries are masters of building long-lasting bonds—which is, in general, a positive trait at work. However, this preference can also backfire on them as building bonds takes time. For employers, time is money, and they aim for optimizing the revenue of the company by finding the best tradeoff between the spent on building long-lasting relations with clients and time spent on finding new clients. For them, employees with the missionary mindset might seem slow and detached from reality.
It is often true especially in business, where the Pareto principle (also known as the “80-20 rule”) is one of the main pillars of development. Namely, most startup founders prefer to launch their products and services in a lean fashion: first get traction by quickly launching suboptimal and half-baked projects, and then bootstrap the company by reinvesting initial gains into gradually improving the products. For employers with such a mentality, a person who is primarily focused on delivering top-notch, personalized service might be a terrible match.
Lack of Teamwork
As mentioned before, missionaries focus on serving. Sometimes, it can give their environment an impression that they are aloof or bad team players. Indeed, missionaries often have an individualistic personality; they know why they come to work in the morning and focus on doing their job to the best of their ability. They can play well in a team as well; it just often falls out of their focus at work.
EXAMPLES OF ACHIEVERS IN VARIOUS WORKING ENVIRONMENTS
A career in teaching is the most obvious direction for a missionary—as a missionary, you get your satisfaction primarily from observing the beneficiaries of your work. What is more joyful than observing the personal progress of your students? You can get hired in an educational institution or become a private tutor or a coach.
Today, private companies and public institutions also care about educating their employees—every middle-to-large sized company and institution establishes a separate department that handles preparing and/or arranging professional training for their employees. Therefore, with a preference for teaching, you have an almost unlimited number of possibilities for your career development.
Mind that in case you decide to go your own way as a teacher and freelance, you need to be prepared that next to your practice, you will also need to hustle and find clients—which can be (at least initially) hard in case you don’t have a strong network at the start. Even the best private teachers need recommendations at first to get their little business rolling!
Another natural direction for a missionary is medicine. Of course, not everyone can become a doctor of medicine, as it’s an extremely long and demanding process. However, if you are a young person thinking about your study major and if you enjoy learning about (human) biology, perhaps you should consider this type of career.
Freelancer Specialized In Repairing / Prettifying / Taking Care of the Customer’s Belongings Or Business
Many missionaries find their passion working as freelancers, and serving directly to their clients. There are so many options! Gardeners, handymen, photographers, wedding planners, anterior designers, architects, stylists, personal assistants, tax advisors, lawyers—all these professionals focus on building bonds with their clients and making sure that the clients’ needs are met.
Many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) serve directly to people who need help. From massive, international organizations like UNICEF or Amnesty International to small, local charities with no more than 10 employees—there is a wide variety of organizations you can choose to work for. These organizations often send their employees straight to the field, to work on facilities or education/support programs with the locals or refugees who need it.
Some missionaries also do well in sales, although that really depends on the type of sales that they need to perform. Because of their empathic nature, missionaries are particularly strong at one-on-one interactions with clients.
Therefore, they can excel as company representatives working, e.g., with the strategic partners whose opinion is essential to the company’s success. On the other hand, they don’t enjoy sales as a game of numbers, therefore, they won’t be as efficient as linchpins when it comes to, e.g., maximizing outreach or online sales.
Missionary In a Literal Sense
Of course, there is also room for missionaries when it comes to… becoming a missionary.
Although it is not a common profession today, there are still regions of the world that need basic aid and basic education that missionaries provide. If you feel that being a missionary is your calling, you should know that it is an option. Of course, it is more of a lifestyle than just a job, yet, there are still thousands of people who choose this path.
HOW TO DEVELOP A CAREER WITH THIS PROFILE?
How to Start a Career
Missionaries usually have modest beginnings. They focus on how they can best serve others given their natural talents, knowledge, and experience. And then, they find a position or profession where they can fulfill this personal mission. In general, missionaries don’t chase after titles—which doesn’t mean that they cannot climb high in the hierarchy at their workplace in the long run!
Missionaries are trusted as individuals focused on helping and delivering good service rather than political games and climbing the ladder. Paradoxically, this attitude can get them very far as they are often elected as heads of their departments, political representatives, or figures in power to solve conflicts and take care of other employees.
How To Look for Jobs / How To Start Working
As a missionary, you should first ask yourself the question, “What role towards other people do I prefer to play?” Most missionaries play a specific role towards others. It can be teaching, healing others, fixing equipment, solving conflicts, advising or mentoring people, etc. So, do you have a preference to be a mentor, a mediator, a teacher, an advisor, or rather, a creative executor of your clients’ ideas?
As a missionary, you also need to discover and nurture your craft—as it is ideal to combine the preferred role with a suitable background.
As an example, you will be the most efficient teacher if, next to the fact that you can convey your knowledge to your students in an understandable way and motivate them, your knowledge of the discipline is also broad and detailed. For this reason, it is best to think early about your craft and work on developing this craft every day towards becoming a reputable expert in your field.
How To Self-Manage in Daily Life
First of all, as mentioned before, missionaries often don’t pay enough attention to building relations with their superiors. While at the end of the day, you will only be valued in your workplace if your contribution gets noticed and appreciated by your direct manager!
For instance, what often happens in small consultancy companies is that junior consultants get flabbergasted after discovering the rules of the game. Namely, they are sent to the clients’ site, and then, they spend a year or two helping the client company with their projects. And, after the end of their project, they learn that despite their efforts to serve the client to the best of their abilities, and building a deep bond with them, they are not promoted anyway… as they didn’t keep enough contact with their direct manager at the maternal company throughout the project—while some of their colleagues did.
Therefore, regardless of how much you enjoy helping people directly, you need to also learn the rules of the game. Namely, when you sign a new contract or enter a new working environment, you need to take notice of the qualities valued in this new community, and the written and unwritten rules for getting acknowledged and promoted. If you don’t do your diligence, your journey through the job market will be like walking in the dark.
Furthermore, it is good to keep track of how your resume looks. Make sure that you take a look at it and update the text at least once every six months—and possibly more often than that.
Remember that even if you worked for one employer for most of your career, you do have a lot of content to put in the “Work Experience” section! Just mention the most interesting projects and initiatives that you were involved in for all these years (you can add 1-2 sentences explaining the objectives of the project and the role you’ve played in each one of them). If you update and edit your resume regularly, you will be astonished by how well it looks after a few years!
Next, as a missionary, you need to remember about creating a safety net for yourself. In the long run, good relations with clients won’t be enough to become comfortable in the job market—you also need to collaborate with and support other professionals with a similar profile.
Therefore, it is important to join professional associations in your field, attend formal and informal meetups, and make genuine friends with other professionals. These are the important contacts you’ll need to activate when it comes to looking for jobs, or seeking strategic partnerships while building a business.
Lastly, you need to accept that once you are not present online, you just don’t exist. Therefore, regardless of how much you’d prefer to avoid public attention, at some point, you need to take care of your online presence. The good news is, building an online presence doesn’t necessarily need to involve time-consuming activities such as producing creative content through, e.g., blogging or running your own YouTube channel. For most professionals working today, keeping an updated LinkedIn profile and developing a personal landing page that introduces your professional expertise is more than enough to find you online.
EXAMPLES OF FAMOUS MISSIONARIES
A Pakistani activist and author. She advocates for female and children education in Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, and for human rights in general.
She was born and raised in a family that runs a chain of schools in the region. She was inspired by her parents’ charity work on public education. In 2012, she was shot in the head by a Pakistani Taliban in an assassination attempt in revenge for her work as an activist. She was in critical condition at first but then improved enough to be transported to a hospital in Birmingham, UK where she was relatively safe from further assassination attempts.
After recovery, she continued her work, this time as an internationally acclaimed individual. Together with Shiza Shahid, she established the foundation, Malala Fund. In 2013, she wrote the international bestseller entitled “I Am Malala”. In 2014, she was the co-Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize, and at the same time, at the age of 17, as a sophomore high-school student, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in history. In 2020, she graduated with BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford University.
An American educator of Bengali origins. He founded the Khan Academy, a free online education platform that produces 6,500 video classes teaching academic subjects, including mathematics and other sciences. He also created Khan Lab School, an independent school associated with Khan Academy located in Mountain View, California.
Khan graduated with BS and MS in Science specialized in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and another BS in Mathematics. He proceeded to study MBA at the Harvard Business School. Between 2003 and 2009, he was working for Connective Capital Management as a Hedge Fund Analyst. While working there, he started creating his online tutorials.
First, in 2004, Khan began giving online classes to his cousin using Doodle notepad. When other relatives and friends sought his lessons, they advised him to record and move his tutorials to YouTube (2006). The growing popularity of his movies encouraged him to leave his day job and fully focus on online education. He summarized his mission as “to accelerate learning for students of all ages.”
So far, the videos of Khan Academy were watched more than 1.8 billion times. In 2012, Forbes featured an article about Khan Academy under the title “$1 Trillion Opportunity” and with Khan’s face on the cover of the magazine. In 2015, Khan Academy partnered with the College Board to prepare free practice tests for the American final high school exams, SAT. In 2021, Khan was awarded the honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Harvard University.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
A Tibetan spiritual leader and ecumenical figure, believed to be an incarnation of Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. While he has no formal institutional power, he is a symbol of the Tibetan state, representing universal Buddhist values and traditions.
He was incumbent as Dalai Lama in 1940, at the age of 5. In 1950, at the age of 15, he also received political duties after the People’s Republic of China occupied Tibet. During the Tibetan uprising (1959), he escaped to India, where he had lived in exile ever since. He advocates for the political autonomy of Tibet and the protection of Tibetan culture and religion. He is also involved in public discussion about the world economy, the environment, human rights, physical and spiritual health, relations between Buddhism and science, wars and violence, science, and the human mind. He travels around the world, giving Tibetan Buddhist teachings and meeting with world leaders, spiritual leaders, politicians, and researchers. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Pope John Paul II
A Polish spiritual leader, the head of the Catholic Church (1978-2005). He was the first non-Italian pope since the 16th-century and got elected on the third day of the conclave.
While serving a pope, he focused on improving the relations between the Catholic Church and the leaders of other religious movements including Judaism, Islam, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Pope John Paul II also had a strong involvement in world politics. He was an opponent of socialism as a system and contributed to the political transformation in Europe in 1989. He also openly opposed the Iraq War, for which he was nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. In terms of his approach to the Church’s teachings, he was rather conservative towards matters such as abortion, pharmacological contraception, or celibate in the Catholic Church. During his pontificate, he visited 129 countries. He beatified 1,340 and canonized 483 individuals which is a record among all popes in history. In 2014, 9 years after his death, he was canonized.
An Irish Christian missionary and author. She was lived and served in India for 55 years (with no breaks), where she established an orphanage and a mission in the state of Dohnavur. She turned Dohnavur into a sanctuary for over a thousand children.
While living in India, she adopted the local lifestyle and behaved like locals: she dressed in Indian style, dyed her skin with coffee, and traveled long distances on hot, dusty roads. She published about 35 books dedicated to her missionary work. Now, after Carmichael’s death, the Dohnavur Fellowship continues. She is remembered in the Church of England, honored by a commemoration on 18 January every year.
An Indian-American author, teacher, and advocate of alternative medicine.
After graduating from Medicine in India, in 1970, he moved to the United States, where he continued his education in Medicine, including a residency in Internal Medicine and a scholarship in Endocrinology. In 1980, he got enrolled to the staff of the New England Memorial Hospital (NEMH), and he then became the Chief of Staff.
In 1985, he got involved in the Transcendental Meditation movement, which prompted him to leave NEMH and establish the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center. In 1993, he received international attention after giving an interview at the Oprah Winfrey Show. Subsequently, he left the Transcendental Meditation movement, and in 1996, he co-founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. In 2009, he also founded the Chopra Foundation, a tax-exempt charity that raises funds to research and popularize alternative medicine. He believes that a person may attain “perfect health,” which is a state “free from disease, that never feels pain.” According to Chopra, “human aging is fluid and changeable; it can speed up, slow down, stop for a time, and even reverse itself.”
His teachings have been criticized as an example of pseudoscience that can be damaging and a lucrative business rather than a remedy for the disease. However, ever since he was first noticed at Oprah’s show, his teachings and books have been popular among audiences around the world. He also has strong ties with multiple American universities. Today, he serves as an Adjunct Professor in the marketing division at Columbia Business School, and the executive programs division at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Since 2016, Chopra he is serving as a voluntary Full Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Diego. Since 2005, he is also a senior scientist at The Gallup Organization.
An English anthropologist, primatologist, and activist. Her best-known work Goodall is her famous 60-year-long study of social and family interactions between chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.
According to Goodall, women were not accepted in the field of primatology when she started her research in the 1950s. She received public funding that allowed her to study at the Newnham College, Cambridge, obtain a BA and move to Darwin College, Cambridge to obtain a PhD in Ethology. This gave her the credentials necessary to get the edge in the field and start her research. In 1960, she began observing the Kasakela chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.
From the get go, she took a different approach than other researchers. Instead of assigning numbers to the chimpanzees, she named them and observed their unique personalities which was unheard of at a time. She observed many behaviors traditionally viewed as human, such as kissing, petting, hugging, and emotions such as joy or sadness. She studied family and social relationships between chimpanzees and concluded that they develop close, deep bonds. She also observed chimpanzees making and using tools for foraging, and even for fighting against one another.
In 1977, she established the Jane Goodall Institute where she works on protecting animal welfare and protecting chimpanzees and their natural habitats in particular. Among others, she collaborated with NASA to use satellite imagery from the Landsat series to demonstrate the influence of local deforestation on chimpanzees and local people in Western Africa. In 2008, she requested the European Union to stop using medical research on animals. In 2002, she was honored with the title of a United Nations Messenger of Peace.