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Do genes influence our careers?

We know today that genetics have a profound influence on one's career choices and work life. From academic paths, educational achievements to job satisfaction, your genetic makeup directs multidimensional aspects of your work life. The blog dives deep into these aspects and how you can use them to create a rewarding career. 


What you will learn - 

    • The relationship between one's DNA and the choices you make for your career 
    • ‘Genetics vs. the environment’ in the making of your career
    • How genetics impacts your academic and work success at different stages in life
    • The influence of genetics on workplace and job satisfaction
    • The relationship between genetics and learning capabilities
    • How genetics impacts your need for autonomy at work and what that means for you 


"At the most basic level, you probably believe that being tall is important to becoming a professional basketball player, and you might even blame your height for the fact that you don’t currently play for the New York Knicks.  …[Y]ou probably have a gut sense that your DNA is at least partially responsible for your failure to get drafted into the NBA.”, Scott Shane starts his book Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders with this interesting inquiry.

Have you ever wondered if your career options are determined by your DNA? Why do some people find themselves in creative job roles, while others thrive in positions that require working with numbers? Genetics, at least partly influences career choices in individuals, as observed in multiple studies. There may not be specific genes responsible for our career choices or work habits, but genetics predisposes individuals to personality traits and interests that can lead them to their chosen career paths.


It's all in the cells (and the environment)

It may come as a surprise, but almost all of our personality traits can be traced back to our genetic makeup. When it comes to our work life and career, the impact of genetics is far more than we account for, determining factors such as job satisfaction, career choices, work values, learning and performance, work behaviours and attitudes, and a lot more! 

However, it is important to note that our environment plays a significant role in how our genes are expressed and which genes are 'activated' in a particular situation. Our workplace environment is dynamic and can influence our genes to derive distinct work performance outcomes. Both genes and environment work together to influence an individual’s career options and need to be accounted for when trying to make crucial work-related decisions. 

Let's delve deeper into all the ways genetics impact our work life -

Genetics and success

Studies have uncovered some astounding associations between genetics and success in life. As much as 70 percent of a child's success in school can be attributed to genetics In another study by Professor Daniel Belsky, they found that "those who carried certain genetic variants—ones that had already been linked to educational attainment in other studies—hit developmental benchmarks earlier as children and held higher aspirations as teenagers."

Our success at school, be it primary, high school, or college, is 50% heritable, which is a pivotal insight into the role that genes play in academic success and the career options available to us. This leads us to the degree of genetic influence on work success. If genes have a significant impact on our success and performance, we may need to reorient the way we look at rewards/incentives at the workplace. Incentives are planned on the assumption that all employees are equal in their capabilities to achieve work outcomes. If genetics makes some people naturally adept at skills like leadership potential, then they stand a better chance of outperforming others.

However, it is important to note that genetics alone cannot and does not determine our success or limit our career options. In an identical twin study, it was found that 70% of the stability in achievement can be attributed to genetic factors, while 25% is determined by the twins’ shared environment, such as growing up in the same family or attending the same school. Environment and genes work cohesively to determine an individual's success at work, including workplace dynamics and working conditions. 


Genetics and job satisfaction 

Job or workplace satisfaction is associated with genetics, and is upto 30 percent heritable. Our genes determine how content and satisfied we are with our work and career. Job satisfaction, however, is also a function of our individual happiness, upto 50% of which is inherited! Factors like work values, leadership capabilities, interpersonal communication, and more can all be traced back to genetics. 

Of course, understanding the workplace dynamic and environment is just as important, if not more. Decoding job satisfaction is far more complicated than simply relying on your genetic information. If you happen to have a job that is mentally and emotionally demanding, or if you have an unhealthy work environment, it is far more likely for you to be frustrated with your job than be content with it. 


Genetics and learning

Our success at work and in life is largely dependent on our ability to grasp, absorb and apply novel, useful information and utilise our capabilities throughout the length of our careers to make consistent progress. Researchers have found that our learning capabilities may also be affected by our genetic makeup. Genetic differences in children affect performance and the joy children experience while learning.

Learning also impacts the level of engagement that an individual exhibits at work. Genetics impacts the academic subjects we choose to study. In fact, genetics accounts for about 36% of the difference in whether we are attracted to finance


Genetics and need for autonomy

Genes influence the desire to experience freedom and autonomy in one's job, driving people to pursue careers, such as entrepreneurships. Preference for autonomy is an important marker that can be linked to multiple heritable traits, such as craving adventures, liking numbers, being consistent and driven, and more. While genes may not directly predispose you to choosing an entrepreneurial career, several psychological characteristics associated with entrepreneurship have genetic influence - 

Genetics and environment work together in mysterious ways to influence distinct aspects of our work lives - from career choices to whether we enjoy learning to even how happy we are at work. 

Gaining access to important information encoded in our genes combined with our environment can help us unlock our tremendous potential. Powerful tools like Genleap help individuals discover their innate gifts by combining the knowledge gained from the trifecta of Genetics, Astromancy, and Psychometrics.

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