Knowledge-Base: Most Frequently Asked Questions
Sparketype is really just a fun way of saying the archetypes for work that sparks you.
Sparketypes are the source code level driver of work that makes you come alive. They are the imprints or affinities - those intrinsic impulses to do the work that we feel called to do for no other reason than the feeling it gives us. . Wrapped around each of these impulses are common, mappable behaviors, tendencies, and preferences that form archetypes, thus the “Sparketypes!”
For most people, discovering your Sparketype is like meeting your true self. There is an immediate, intuitive knowing - an undeniable truth that explains so many past choices and outcomes. You feel seen. This is the word that is shared with us, over and over. It empowers you to not only understand who you are and why you do what you do, but also how you contribute to the world on a very different, more intentional and fulfilling level.
Where does this impulse come from? Short answer - there is no easy answer. We don’t know if it’s genetic, environmental, behavior, ordained, or some blend. And, it would be nearly impossible to empirically test it’s origin. What we do know is that it tends to show up in the earlier parts of life, though it may not reveal itself in an observable way (and may even be stifled for various cultural or behavioral reasons).
The Sparketypes originated from the decades-long experience of award-winning author, teacher, wellness-industry innovator, founder, and business advisor, Jonathan Fields. In addition to his own extensive experimentation, Jonathan has worked with thousands of individuals, founders and organizations exploring the drivers of purpose, meaning, expression, happiness, and engagement. Over those same years, as the executive producer and host of one of the world’s top-ranked podcasts, Good Life Project, Jonathan has had rare access to many of the world’s leading voices in the fields of social science, positive psychology, business, performance psychology, career development, human performance, spirituality and beyond.
Over the years, Jonathan’s quest to understand human flourishing and “what it means to live a good life” narrowed to a focus of the domain of work. He became fascinated by the nature of work that makes people come alive, which he defines as the intersection between:
- Excitement & Energy
- Expressed Potential, and
He began to explore how different jobs, roles, titles, devotions, activities - really anything that required you to exert effort - made different people feel different things. And, he wondered whether there existed a universal set of impulses for effort that existed underneath all these surface-level expressions of work that made people come alive. He began to deconstruct the fundamental ways people exert themselves across nearly every domain and, over time, was able to identify 10 unique impulses or imprints for effort that would eventually become the basis of the Sparketypes.
Seeking to learn more, Jonathan began sharing these imprints with people and teams, soliciting feedback, and refining them. Then, seeking a vastly larger data-set, he worked to develop the Sparketype Assessment, which served two roles: test the ideas at scale and generate vastly more data and nuanced intel, and be able to offer a publicly-available tool to help people discover their Sparketype profiles.
The Sparketype Assessment moved out of beta at the end of 2018. Since then, nearly 600,000 people have completed the assessment, generating close to 30-million data points, and a giant, rapidly-growing inventory of stories, use-cases, and applications that have helped to not only validate, but refine the understanding of each Sparketype and add depth, clarity, and nuance. Building on this, the Spark Endeavors team conducted a preliminary Phase II Insight Study to elicit more detailed information about both the accuracy and value of the Sparketypes, as well as the relationship between doing the work of your Sparketype and more defined markers for meaning, engagement, purpose in life, expression, retention and flow. The results of this survey not only confirmed but greatly strengthened both our working hypotheses, as well as the wealth of experiential and anecdotal evidence. According to this preliminary data, 92% of people completing the assessment report that their Sparketype is “very to extremely” accurate. Similar to assessments that seek to measure highly-subjective markers like happiness or meaningfulness, we rely on the individual determination of accuracy in the context of study participants’ own, highly-subjective understanding of themselves and their own personal experiences of work and life. This data also revealed strong correlations (r-values of .5-.8) with doing the work of your Sparketype and markers for meaning, purpose-in-life, flow, performance, and engagement.
This is, and will likely always be a dynamic, evolving body-of-work, as we continue to deepen into the massive, fast-growing data-set and mounting archive of stories, and applications, both for individuals and organizations. We’re already planning additional research and look forward to sharing deeper insights as we learn more. We hope this helps you understand more about the origin of the Sparketype and continuing explorations. We continue to develop and refine the ideas and tools, and we are incredibly excited about the strength of real-world and data-driven validation and insights arising out of this work.
Being Sparked exists at the sweet-spot of 5 domains:
In preliminary data from a Phase II survey, we’ve identified strong correlations with doing the work of your Sparketype and markers for flow, meaning, purpose, engagement, and performance. The correlation-coefficients or “r-values” range from +0.5 to +0.8.
When exploring these connections, we offer the following definitions to add clarity to what we’re actually measuring:
Purpose: Knowing you’re moving toward something you believe in.
Excitement: Engagement, energy, and enthusiasm for the pursuit of that something.
Meaningfulness: The feeling that what you do and who you are matters.
Expressed Potential: The sensation of being fully you, and not having to hide, bringing all of your potential to the experience, and leaving nothing untapped.
Flow: The blissful experience of getting lost in an activity, losing time, and becoming absorbed in the task.
These five markers are also what we’ve identified as the five components of the state we call “coming alive” or being Sparked. While the data, to date, is correlational not causative, the numbers are strong enough to infer genuine, measurable relationships between doing the work of your Sparketypes and all five aspects. Because of this, there is clear application not only in the context of individual flourishing, but also to organizational leadership, engagement, and performance.
Your Sparketype and Passion are not the same but they are related.
Our lens on passion is that your passions are the outward, identity-level expressions of your Sparketype.
The words, “passion, purpose, life-purpose” have been used by so many people in so many different ways, often interchangeably, that they’ve become not only confusing, but also, to the extent they once had power, they’ve now become largely generic, watered-down, meaningless platitudes to most people.
Rather than just abandoning these terms, let’s define them in very specific ways, so we can talk about them and understand how they relate to your Sparketype. This way, even if others throw them around loosely, you’ll still be able to relate to them with clarity and power and understand how they interact with your Sparketype.
Passion has been a hot topic over the last decade, and you may have heard the words “find” or “follow” preceding the word (as in “follow your passion”). But passion isn’t some external thing you need to seek out or pursue, it comes from inside you, it’s part of your identity. It’s the difference between saying “I paint” and “I am a painter.” The first would likely be a pursuit or interest, you describe it as something you “do”. The latter would be a passion, you describe it as something that you “are.”
When we talk about your passions, we add one more element, tying it to your Sparketype, so you can easily understand how everything works together. Your Passions, the way we talk about them, are the granular, real-world, identity-level expressions of your Sparketype.
The fact that passions are connected to your Sparketype and you experience them on the level of identity is why we tend to feel our passions so deeply. Because they are conduits, channels of expression, visible, tangible, often palpable manifestations of our Sparketypes. Our source-code.
Simply having an identity-level association with something you devote a substantial amount of time and energy to and have an interest in, in our approach, does not a passion make. The way we use the word, you need the two critical elements for it to be a true passion.
- An outward-expression of your Sparketype
- You must feel compelled to describe it with identity-level language
Don’t get motivated, get aligned.
What do we even mean when we use the word motivation? It’s a bit of a made-up word that translates roughly to “the thing that leads you to start and do the work necessary to accomplish a goal.” Usually, there are two components people think about: external (things outside our noggins) and internal (things that happen in our minds).
On the internal side, we’re really talking about the ability to harness “willpower” or, as the social science researchers call it “self-regulation/ego-depletion.” Problem is, willpower happens to be a pretty terrible driver of sustained action. When it works at all, it lasts for a short bit, but then fails at creating sustained energy to do pretty much anything that is not intrinsically enjoyable (I don’t need willpower to eat chocolate every day, but exercise, that’s a whole other story).
Motivation is usually associated with a desire to avoid suffering or attain some gain. But true motivation isn’t about carrots and sticks, it is about aligning with your Sparketype and subtracting barriers to its fullest, least encumbered expression.
Becoming hyper-engaged and working hard for a long time to make something meaningful happen is not about willpower or motivation in the traditional sense of the word, it’s about alignment.
Put another way, where we so often go wrong is that we assign work that is misaligned with Sparketypes, add exogenous mechanisms for motivation that are almost always ineffective, then build an environment that continually stymies the ability to do great work, rather than starting with a process of self inquiry, aligning work with a deeper set of drivers, then doing everything we can to get out of the way.
If you are feeling a complete lack of motivation, hit pause. Chances are pretty good, the problem is a lack of self-knowledge, bundled with an inability or unwillingness to align what you do with who you are and what matters most.
Your Primary Sparketype is the strongest impulse for work that makes you feel excited, inspired and on-purpose. It represents the work that is your truest reason for being. Your core driver of purpose and, healthfully-expressed, catalyst for passion and flow in work and life. It defines both who you are and what fills you up, more than any other.
When you align the work you do in the world with your Primary Sparketype, whether it is the thing you get paid for, your central role or devotion, or simply the work you do “on the side” because it is so deeply nourishing, you feel most alive. You become sparked. Lit up! Things aren’t necessarily easier, but you feel like even if they’re hard, you’re filled with a deeply-convicted and sustained sense of purpose, your identity and capabilities are being fully-expressed, you spend more time in flow and know that you’re standing in your true potential.
Your Shadow Sparketype is also a big part of you but it is not your one true thing, though we often mistake it for that. It’s often work that you enjoy, may be very skilled at, and even feel a strong innate impulse to explore. It’s easy to think of your Shadow Sparketype as your “runner-up” Sparketype. Your close second. And, it may be a very close second. But, while there is a lot of truth to that, for most people, there’s a more nuanced relationship with your Primary.
Your Shadow Sparketype is often the work you do in order to be able to do the work of your Primary at a higher level. It’s like a Primary Sparketype amplifier.
Your Anti Sparketype represents the type of work that is the heaviest lift for you. It takes the most out of you, and requires the greatest amount of recovery even if, objectively, it's not that hard. It is not indicative of work you are incapable of doing, some find they have become quite skilled at the work of their Anti Sparketype, but doing this work comes at a cost. It is work that leaves you empty rather than making you come alive. Focusing all your efforts here without leaning into the work of your Primary or Shadow is a fast-pass to burnout.
That said, simply because a certain kind of work is your Anti Sparketype, that doesn’t mean you don’t ever have to do it. You may have a strong value around that work, for example, your Anti-Sparketype might be the Advocate, but if you have a strong value around advocacy, you’ll still find yourself engaging in that work. You derive meaning from it, because it is values-aligned, even though it feels like a heavier lift and requires more recovery. Your values won’t let you off the hook simply because it takes more out of you than it might take out of someone else.
Similarly, the work of your Anti Sparketype may still be a part of the larger job or role you’ve said yes to. It’s rare that anyone gets to opt 100% out of the work of the Anti, though you may be able to craft your work to either minimize or delegate that work as much as possible.
Finally, if your Anti Sparketype lies strongly on the service-side of the Satisfaction Spectrum - for example, the Nurturer, the fact that this work does not come easily to you does not make you a bad person, nor does it mean you don’t care about others. It just means that, because of the way you’re wired, it takes more out of you than others, requires more recovery and, often, more external motivation to make it happen. Even when it’s values-aligned.
We’re taught from the earliest age, success is accomplishment. In school, that looks like striving for A’s, being on a winning team, getting more done than the next person. As we move into life and then adult work, it turns into the ability to outwork those around you, stay at the office longer, check more boxes off your list, rise up a ladder faster, land more deals, sales, promotions, possessions and on and on and on.
We are, in fact, wired to a certain extent to aspire to achievement. Checking items off of lists does feel good, it provides energy for us to keep doing the work, so we can check more items off until we get to the end of the list where we can say “sweet, mission accomplished!”
But, there’s a problem. Unless that mission genuinely matters to us, eventually we realize we’ve spent the vast majority of our waking hours becoming massively accomplished at things we care little about. All that checking, it turns out, has a cost to it. And, that cost is all the things we could have been doing instead that did matter - that were true, aligned, outward-expressions of our Sparketype.
This is one of the greatest fallacies in work and life. Being accomplished CAN make you feel deeply fulfilled, BUT only if your accomplishments align with your Sparketype.
If they do, then everything you accomplish deepens you into purpose and allows your identity and competence to be expressed on fuller and fuller levels and opens the gates for flow.
That keeps fanning the flames of meaning and joy. It leaves you perpetually and increasingly Sparked. In that case, the more accomplished you are, the more Sparked you become.
The quest for accomplishment without reference to your Sparketype may lead to momentary hits of feeling okay, but it does not lead to a deep and enduring sense of meaning, fulfillment and the joy of knowing you are living your reason-for-being. At the end of the day, week, month or year, you always find yourself sliding back into that empty place of yearning and wondering “what ELSE must I do to feel the way I want to feel? To know, deep inside, what I do matters and all of me is being validated and used.”
You can’t work harder. You can’t accomplish more. You’re giving everything you’ve got. But, you’re giving from the wrong place, in the wrong way, to the wrong thing.
Simple answer, accept the reality that accomplishment alone will not get you where you want to go. Stop chasing accomplishment for accomplishment’s sake, and start pursuing accomplishment in a way that is fiercely aligned with the expression of your Sparketype.
The honest answer is, it depends. To be good or skilled at anything requires some level of investment, of time, energy, practice regardless of our natural inclination towards the activity. A skill is something that is learned, it is not innate.
You can be incredibly proficient, skilled, even top of your class in something and derive little to no energy or sense of fulfillment from the task. It might even be the thing that fills you with dread and depletes you more than anything else. This tends to happen when we’re young and find ourselves devoting large amounts of energy to certain pursuits that are not intrinsically rewarding, but serve as gateways to belonging, acclaim, and acceptance.
Conversely, you can be interested, actively engaged, and lose all sense of time while performing a task or activity where you have developed no skill whatsoever. All you know is you enjoy it and want to do more of it.
Becoming highly skilled at something can even become a trap. Sometimes, the simple fact that we’ve become pretty good at something deludes us into thinking it’s the thing we should devote our lives to. Or others see we are good at something, celebrate it, and well-meaningly encourage us to do more of it.
Your Sparketype isn’t about what you’ve trained yourself to do well or what you have to do to get the job done or earn the living you want to earn.
It’s about what, given the opportunity, you can’t not do. What you would spend all your time doing if you had the ability to farm everything else out. What are the things that make you feel most alive, lose track of time, and you never want it to end? These are the areas worth becoming skilled in.
It’s nearly impossible to definitively answer when the underlying impulses for our Sparketypes form and whether they stay stable or fixed for life, or evolve over time. This is, in no small part, because we are not easily able to get data for any one person that spans a lifetime, let alone a vast enough data-set to draw absolute conclusions.
Many signals and anecdotes, however, point to the observation that your Sparketype imprints are there from an early age and, for most people, barring experiences of profound trauma, awakening or brain injury, stay relatively stable over time.
Why, then, might you take the assessment at different times and get a different result? In a smaller-pool follow-up survey, we’ve learned that some 92% of respondents said their Sparketype Assessment results were very to extremely accurate. That said, any assessment or typing tool, whether the Sparketype Assessment, Strengthsfinder®, MBTI®, or any other major assessment-driven body-of-work, will always have certain inherent limitations.
The accuracy of any one result will always be constrained by an individual’s ability to respond to the prompts in a way that truly discerns and reflects their unique impulses, preferences, feelings, and thoughts. And, that will always be constrained by the breadth and depth of their experiences and interactions, their level of self-awareness, and also any judgment, desire, bias, or tendency about how they want to see themselves and be seen that they may bring consciously or unconsciously to the process.
In the case of the Sparketypes, it is our view that changes in results in the assessment over time are less about genuine evolution and more about revelation. In other words, it more likely that the impulses that drive effort have remained the same, but the nature of the experiences and interactions, and depth of self-discovery and awareness may have changed or expanded the "inner-data" you're able to draw upon to discern, in a more nuanced and potentially accurate way, your responses to the prompts in the assessment. And that may lead not so much to a change in the deeper impulse or Sparketype, but rather to your ability to answer in a way that provides "better input" and, in turn, leads to what feels like a changed "result."
So, when you take the Sparketypes Assessment and get different results over time, it's likely less about a genuine shift in your imprint, and more about you coming to the process in a different state (rushed through the first time, because you didn't take it seriously and answer in a truly discerning way) and/or accessing an often more expanded or nuanced "inner data-set" in the process (which almost always takes time and experience to accumulate).
At first glance these might look like two different questions, and are, but we often find they are linked. Let’s explore each scenario.
What if you don’t agree with your Sparketype?
Similar to every other personality or identity-based assessment, the information you get can and is often very useful, but it is also understandably limited. It’s amazing what you can discover about a person in a relatively small number of questions and about 15-minutes. But, it also should always be taken in the context of your own experience of life, and the larger process of self-discovery and knowledge. It is, as they say, one data-point in a universe of many.
Hopefully, it is an important and valuable data-point that helps you know yourself just a bit better and understand how to make more informed choices. Still, as with any assessment, look at it in the context of the bigger body of self-knowledge. If you sit with it, and it lands as being true and valuable, then work with it, build upon it. If not, if every fiber of your being is saying this isn’t accurate on any level that is helpful, then listen to that voice. Your own intuition, once you’ve created the stillness for it to emerge, can be the source of genuine wisdom.
A fantastic check on the results offered by the Sparketype Assessment comes in the form of Jonathan Fields’ book, SPARKED: Discover Your Unique Imprint for Work That Makes You Come Alive. This book delivers 10 in-depth chapters, one per Sparketype, that reveals a level of depth, nuance, stories, insights, and intel that may serve as a more immersive way to help discern which Sparktype feels most aligned.
That said, before you walk away from a Sparketype offered by the assessment, take a moment to be sure you’re not really asking that second question -
What if your Sparketype does ring true, but you don’t want it to?
First ask yourself, “why don’t I like or want this Sparketype?” If it lands as true, that means you’ve learned something powerful and useful about yourself. Something that arms you with the ability to make better decisions, to align your actions and work with what you’re here to do. Objectively, that is all good. So, if it is landing in a way that is making you not want to hear it or wish you were something else, you have to wonder why.
What assumptions might you have about this Sparketype? Do you see it as something that wouldn’t naturally match with your chosen “work” (using the much broader definition of work that goes beyond what you might be paid to do)? Is it challenging the expectations about what you’ve been told or learned is an acceptable path, job, career or way to contribute to the world? Very often, this is at the root of these feelings.
For example, maybe you come from a family or culture where standing as a voice for others let alone yourself is frowned upon, or you’ve learned that you should just be grateful for whatever your circumstance may be and never complain, just stifle your discontent. If your Sparketype is The Advocate, and not only you, but those you seek to give voice to are suffering, this will be a barrier you’ll need to work through in order to fully and healthily express the work of your Sparketype.
Or, maybe you’re a Maker and you’ve also come to know that a deeply nourishing expression is to create physical things with your hands. But, you come from a family or community or educational setting that exalts knowledge work and looks down on any kind of making process, especially something small-scale and physical.
Or, maybe you’ve been taught that the work you associate with your Sparketype is not capable of earning you a sustainable living and you don’t want to live hand-to-mouth for the rest of your life, in the name of expressing yourself.
As you explore your assumptions and the truth behind them you may begin to realize that they are simply the limiting beliefs and artificial constraints of those who’ve come before you, and have been unwilling to test and exceed them.
You may find yourself needing to make tough decisions, face certain truths and make intentional tradeoffs in order to live your Sparketype and, at the same time, live in a way that is sustainable and affords you the ability to honor any commitments you’ve made about providing for others in a way that lets you feel fulfilled. Taking a path that simply ignores your Sparketype may lead to achievement but not fulfillment.
So, if you’re a Maker, then you should look for jobs and titles and industries where it’s all about being creative, like being an artist, designer or builder, right? If you’re a Scientist, you should be working in a research lab or think-tank in an industry that’s driven by R&D, yes?
Your title or profession does not determine whether it is a potential conduit for you to fully express your Sparketype. What you DO within the work of that job, title or career on a daily basis does. And, that is something most people have far more control over than they think.
Truth is, nearly every Sparketype can be expressed in nearly any job, industry or position IF you choose to view it as an opportunity to bring your essence to your work.
For example, if you’re a bread-maker, you might be fueled by the joyful sense of being cared-for that people express when they first bite into a warm loaf of artisan bread, fresh from the oven (Nurturer). Or you might come alive through the potentially years-long experimentation with ingredients and conditions that yield the perfect loaf, with the reactions of those who consume your product valued for little more than data along your quest (Scientist). You might delight in the show of baking in an open kitchen with diners on all sides (Performer). You might obsess over what the perfect visual presentation is (Maker). Or, in teaching young disciples how to do what you do (Sage).
When you know and understand your Sparketype, you become armed to more readily see and understand the possibilities that exist in nearly any job, position, entity or industry to fully-express it and drop into flow. You can look past the stock and rarely inclusive or accurate job description to see the truer, fuller opportunity to come alive. All the while, you go by the same title. You make bread. But, now it’s not just the loaves that rise, it’s you.
Knowing and understanding your Sparketype unlocks so much possibility.
It also gives you options. Among them, to potentially stay in your company or industry or field, but maybe change roles or jobs. Or stay in the same position, but now find yourself armed to do it differently. To shape it into whatever it needs to be. To say yes to what parts that light you up, no to the parts that empty you. And, maybe even take on tasks, projects or activities that lie outside the narrow confines of your J.O.B., but, in so embracing this work, allows you to experience what you do with a far greater sense of ignition.
Your Sparketype also helps show you what work looks and feels like when you are lit-up, and alerts you to major red-flags. And, if you find yourself dipping into that dangerous place, it helps you identify when to intervene, understand when you’re moving into a negative state, then consciously make better choices and shift into a place defined more by an intentional upward spiral, than an autopilot downward spiral.
So, when thinking about building your work around your Sparketype, look less at generic job titles, careers, industries and titles and more at whether any one opportunity holds the possibility for you to do it in a way that allows you to fully-express your Sparketype and leaves you Sparked.