What Color Is Your Parachute? Quotes to Know

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "What Color Is Your Parachute?" by Richard N. Bolles. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the best What Color Is Your Parachute? quotes? How can Richard Bolles quotes inspire your job hunt?

These What Color Is Your Parachute? quotes cover the things that motivate and impede you. These quotes focus on some of the key messages in the book.

Keep reading for three important What Color Is Your Parachute? quotes and their context in the book.

3 What Color Is Your Parachute? Quotes

“Always define WHAT you want to do with your life and WHAT you have to offer to the world, in terms of your favorite talents/gifts/skills-not in terms of a job-title.”

The first of the What Color Is Your Parachute? quotes asks you to think about what you can offer. So, what is a skill? “Skill” is a commonly misdefined word, even among employers and HR departments. There are three kinds of skills, according to Sidney Fine:

  • Functional. These skills are things you can do and usually take the form of verbs, for example, singing, teaching, and so on. They’re the basis of any job you take. There are three further categories of functional skills:
    • People skills. For example, mentoring and speaking are skills you apply to people. 
    • Information skills. For example, comparing and synthesizing are skills you apply to information.
    • Thing skills. For example, operating or setting up inanimate objects are skills you apply to things.
  • Knowledge-based. These skills are things you know about and usually take the form of nouns, for example, computer programming, speaking Italian, and so on.
  • Traits. These skills are ways you act and usually take the form of adverbs or adjectives, for example, punctual, passionately, and so on.

“We want to find that special joy, that no one can take from us, which comes from having a sense of Mission in our life.”

The second of the What Color Is Your Parachute? quotes focuses on your mission. Your beliefs contribute to who you are and what makes you unique, so it’s important to consider them as you self-assess. The author believes that our purpose is inherently related to God⁠—a “mission” is something you feel called to do, and this call comes from God. If you’re not Christian, you can translate the following ideas into whatever’s meaningful for you.

Beyond the second of the What Color Is Your Parachute? quotes, the author further elaborates on a mission. He has divided finding your mission into three stages:

1. Get to know God. Everyone on the planet shares this mission, but the way in which you pursue it is unique to you. The second of the Richard Bolles quotes speaks to the mission, but there’s a faith-based component to the mission in the book. During this stage, keep in mind:

  • Your mission isn’t to do something, it’s to be the kind of person who reflects God’s image. 
  • We have a relationship with God whether we acknowledge it or not because we were created by and will return to him. When we’re born, we forget what came before⁠—you can think of being born into a physical body like getting amnesia and think of religion as remembering what you once knew.
  • Some part of ourselves will want to ignore God. This will be a barrier to achieving our mission.
  • We’re unique and special because God thinks so, not because there’s anything particular about our own being.
  • The physical aspects of our lives, such as interacting with nature, are important, but we also must consider spiritual aspects.

2. Improve the world. Again, everyone on the planet shares this mission, but the way in which you pursue it is unique to you. During this stage, keep in mind:

  • Every time you have a choice, no matter how small, choose the option that improves the world. 
    • For example, if you’re driving in rush hour and someone signals to move into your lane, make space for them instead of cutting them off.
  • Every small decision is part of improving the world. If you only look for big-picture choices, you’ll miss opportunities.
  • Even if you don’t understand the big picture of the mission, follow God’s guidance.
  • God won’t give you any more information about the big picture until you’ve used all the information you already have.
  • The small things aren’t just practice⁠—they’re meaningful and they contribute to a larger mission.

3. Use your talents in a setting you enjoy in order to do things God needs done. During this stage, keep in mind:

  • God gives us free will, so we can choose how to fulfill this stage of our mission.
  • Your achievements don’t have to be public or obvious. In some cases, even you yourself might not know what contributions you’ve made if they don’t take effect until after your death.
  • Whatever you achieve, you and God achieve together. You accomplish nothing alone.
  • Some of us look for specific, direct instructions during this stage of the mission. However, you already have all the information you need⁠—you know what you’re good at and you know what you like doing.
  • Career counseling is actually better at this part of the mission than religion. 
  • You might imagine that when God created your soul, you had a conversation about what your mission was and what talents you needed for it, and you’ve only forgotten because of earthly amnesia.
  • Your mission will probably have something to do with truth, beauty, service, or a combination of all three.
  • Now that you know you have a mission, you don’t need to worry about your lifespan. God will leave you on the earth until you complete your mission or a more important mission comes up elsewhere. Pay attention to your health and death, but don’t worry about either.

If you keep your mission in mind while job searching, you’ll not only end up with a career you like, but you’ll also understand the point of your life.

“Call it anything else if you will—fear, anxiety, nervousness, sweating
—but “shyness” is the historic word for it.”

The final of the What Color Is Your Parachute? quotes Shyness is the second major impediment to a job hunt and affects a lot of us. Culturally, we’re trained not to be egotistical, so we sometimes tend too hard in the opposite direction. This can lead to coming across as ungrateful⁠—we don’t care about our skills and gifts. You can find the balance by paying attention to others⁠—when you notice your own skills, also notice those of others.

Career counselor John Crystal says that the cure for shyness is having fun. This is because when you’re enthusiastic and excited about something, you forget to be shy. Therefore, only have conversations and look for jobs you’re really excited about.

There’s a three-step process to curing shyness, started by John Crystal and finessed by Daniel Porot. It’s called PIE and involves practicing the three types of interviews: practice/pleasure, informational, and employment. The third of the Richard Bolles quotes identifies the issue, but it can be addressed.

Practice or pleasure interviews are conversations with people about subjects you’re passionate about. To practice these, choose a topic that’s unrelated to work and try to talk with people you don’t know. For example, if you love to dance, try talking to a dance instructor. Questions will probably come naturally for you if you’re enthusiastic about a subject, but if they don’t, try asking how the person became involved with the topic, what they like most and least, who else you should talk to about it, and if they’ll introduce you to those people. You can bring a friend to a practice interview if you like.

Informational interviews are conversations with employees or experts who know a lot about the job or industry you’re interested in. See Chapter 3 for more details.

Employment interviews are conversations with employers, ideally, the people who will hire you rather than people who work in HR. For more detail on this kind of interview, see Chapter 4.

What Color Is Your Parachute? Quotes to Know

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  • How to not just find a job, but find a job you love
  • Why traditional resumes don’t find you the right job
  • The 7 steps to identifying your ideal career

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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