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SPI 537: Finding Your Spark for 2022 with Jonathan Fields

In this, the final episode of 2021, I want you to feel lit up. I want this to be the spark you need going into next year.

Whether or not you’re already an entrepreneur, how do you position yourself for success? Not just with money, or your goals, but how do you wake up every morning excited to do something that sparks you, that lights you up?

To help us answer that question, I’m really excited to introduce our guest today, Jonathan Fields. He’s been on the show before, and he’s here to talk about your Sparketype. The work and research Jonathan is doing is all about helping people understand what truly excites them, and the Sparketype—a combination of “spark” and “archetype”—is his framework for doing that.

I love that word because it’s fun, and for how it conveys the fact that different people get lit up about different things. We each have an amazing opportunity to discover if what we’re doing now actually lights us up, or if there’s some way to unlock more of a spark. And if not, how might we find something that does ignite us?

Jonathan and I talk about the different kinds of Sparketypes—and yes, you’ll hear how both of us scored on the assessment, the pros and cons of each archetype, and what it means for our working styles.

Now you might be thinking, “The Sparketype sounds lot like the Enneagram or StrengthFinders.” And yes, it is similar in a lot of ways. But in my opinion, of all the self-assessment tests out there, this one is the most interesting, and the one that I feel gives you answers that can push you forward.

This is the exact right time for an episode like this as we roll into the new year. So Happy New Year to you and your family! I wish you all the health in the world, and here’s to finding your spark in 2022!

Today’s Guest

Jonathan Fields

Jonathan Fields—the Good Life Guy—delivers insights that spark purpose, possibility, and potential. On a decades-long quest to discover what makes people come fully alive, Jonathan is an award-winning author, Webby-nominated producer, business innovator, and host of one of the world’s top podcasts, Good Life Project. The Wall Street Journal named Good Life Project one of the top self-development podcasts, and Apple featured it on-stage during its legendary annual product event. Jonathan is featured widely in the media, including the New York Times, FastCompany, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNN, the Guardian, O Magazine, SELF, Allure, Outside, Elle, Vogue, Fitness, and thousands of other outlets.

In addition to writing award-winning and bestselling books like his most recent, Sparked: Discover Your Unique Imprint for Work that Makes You Come Alive, How to Live a Good Life, and Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance, Jonathan has founded several companies with a focus on maximizing human potential. The most recent is Spark Endeavors, where he is the chief architect and driving force behind the world’s first purpose, engagement, and flow archetypes–the Sparketypes®. This powerful tool has been tapped by over 500,000 individuals and organizations, generating a rapidly growing, global data-set, and insight-based solutions to help transform how we work, lead and live.

You’ll Learn


SPI 537: Finding Your Spark for 2022

Pat Flynn: Here we are, the final episode of 2021. And I want this episode to light you up. I want it to be the spark that you need going into next year. And so I’m really excited to introduce our guest today. His name is Jonathan Fields. He’s actually been on the show before. He’s been on a while back, but he’s here to talk about your Sparketype. How do you land on something? Whether you are already an entrepreneur or not, how do you figure your way to? How do you position yourself to get success? Not just success with money, success with team, success with whatever goals you might have, but how do you get to a point where you are something that absolutely sparks you, every single morning you wake up and you get so excited to go and do that thing. And what’s really interesting about what Jonathan is doing and the research and the work that he is up to is he’s helping people understand what their Sparketypes are.

Pat Flynn: And I love that word because it sounds like architecture, but spark as in light up and ignite, but also the fact that different people get lit up about different things. So this is an amazing opportunity for all of us too, as we listen to Jonathan speak about these things to discover well, is it true that what we are doing actually lights us up or might there be something in and around that, that we can get even more excited about? Or if not, how might we go find something that ignites us in that way, right? That sparks us. And we’re going to talk about the different kinds of archetypes and I’ll share and reveal mine. Jonathan reveals his. We’ll share what the pros and cons are to each of those. Now you might be thinking that, well this is just similar to like an Enneagram or a StrengthFinders test in a way that it yes, does provide some sort of analysis of you and categorizes us in that sort of way.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, but of all the different kinds of things that I’ve done to take these personal self assessments with, this one is definitely the most interesting. And the one that I feel gives you answers that can definitely push you forward. And this is the right time to listen to this as we roll into the new year. So Happy New Year to you and your family. I wish you all the health in the world, but right now, let’s get excited because we got Jonathan Fields with us. Let’s roll the final intro of the year. Here we go.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income podcast, where it’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and read the benefits later. And know your host, if he could live in any video game universe, it would be from Legend of Zelda, Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: What is up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to session 537 of the Smart Passive Income podcast. And like I said, we’re going to help you find and discover your Sparketype, what that is, and how to use it to your best advantage going into 2022. Wow. It’s weird to say that, 2022, here we go. Jonathan Fields. Jonathan, welcome to the Smart Passive Income podcast. Thanks for being here.

Jonathan Fields: Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s my pleasure.

Pat Flynn: I’m excited because you’re going to help us and everybody’s listening right now, understand what lights us up. And you know, I’d spoken about this in my book Will It Fly?. The first three chapters are actually, in fact, before you validate a business idea is you need to validate who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’ve taken this and have just gone so deep into it. It’s become the center of focus for you lately. And you have a new book now called Sparked. What is Sparked about, and what’s the whole idea behind it?

Jonathan Fields: I mean, I’ve been deep into the question of how do we find a new work that makes us come alive for about two decades now. It’s why I recently was thinking about it and I tied it all the way back to 9/11, actually, where I was in New York, knew people who didn’t come home that day and had also just signed a six-year lease for a floor in the building to open a new business the day before. And I woke up that next day and I was just like, okay, so first I was concerned about life. Who I knew and the state of my city. And then also, was I going to say yes to this new venture? I was married with a new home and a three month old baby at the same time. The full catastrophe of that moment really brought me to my knees and had me reimagining and reexamining, what is this thing we call work?

Jonathan Fields: More broadly, how do we live a good life? But also we spend so many of our waking hours doing this thing we call work and to the extent that we can have it be a nourishing experience rather than an emptying experience, or just a box that checks sustaining ourselves financially, which of course is important, but there’s more to life than that. I wanted to know how to do that better. So I leaned into this new venture, which just happened to be a yoga center in New York, launched and became this beautiful community and also a flourishing business. And that really planted the seeds of a two decades long process of inquiry into how do we show up and really understand what are the things to say yes or no to, whether we’re starting our own business, whether we’re working for someone else, whether we’re a professional who’s got a practice.

Jonathan Fields: How do we know what really drives us? And what gives us that feeling of coming alive in the context of work. And probably of the last five years or so, that’s become a much narrower focus for me. And I began to wonder, is there a set of identifiable mappable impulses that exist across all different people, that are underneath all the jobs and titles and roles and industries? Or if we’re starting our own companies that are underneath the brand and the service and the product that we’re offering, is there a deeper impulse for effort that we all have that would give us the feeling of coming alive? Because coming alive or being sparked is such a nebulous word. I’ll tell you exactly what I mean by that. It’s the confluence of five different states. One is meaning; does it actually matter to me?

Jonathan Fields: Two is flow. Is it allowing me to absorb myself in this transcendent state where I become a part of the thing itself, time fuse, and I enter a state of hyper cognition, hyper creativity. The third element is what corporate world would call engagement, but I just call excitement and energy. I’m actually excited to do this thing when I wake up in the morning, even if I know it’s really hard and it’s going to take a lot out of me, which as founders pretty much all always does. The last two elements there are expressed potential or performance. Am I actually leveraging all that I have to lever? And then finally, a sense of purpose. Do I have an immediate sense of purpose? I’m working towards something I can identify that matters to me and more broadly, do I have a sense of purpose in life?

Jonathan Fields: So when I use that phrase coming alive, it’s the confluence of those five states that I’m talking about. So I was wondering, do we have this universal set of impulses that would give us this state where if we exert ourselves in alignment with that, we could enter that place more regularly because if we did, and I could map them, it’d be really helpful for me just as a multi-time founder, but also if we could create tools around that, that would be super helpful. I had no idea if these impulses existed. So I started literally deconstructing every imaginable job, role, title, endeavor, and I found these things just showing up over and over and over underneath them, like five layers deep, regardless of what the title was. Regardless of what the job description was. And it just distilled down to these 10 impulses for effort.

Jonathan Fields: They give us this feeling of coming alive. And once I realized we had these impulses, I also realized that each one of them has its own quirky set of behaviors and tendencies and preferences that wrap around the impulse to form an archetype, like a broader way of being in the world. And I started calling them Sparketypes, just a fun way to say the archetype for work that sparks you.

Pat Flynn: I love that.

Jonathan Fields: I was balancing these off of a lot of different people and getting a lot of soft data that was validating the ideas, but I wanted to validate them at a much larger scale or invalidate them. I was open to either one. So in 2018, we spent pretty much the whole year building a tool and assessment, the Sparketype assessment. We finally came out of beta with that tool at the end of the year, since then close to 600,000 people have completed the assessment generating around 30 million data points. So we’ve got really powerful validation of the fundamental idea right now. And now because of that volume of people, we have a mountain of stories, and use cases and applications.

Jonathan Fields: And now I’ve been able to work with organizations from startup founders to the executive leadership team of massive global enterprises in a leadership context, in a team building context, and the application and the uses are just, it’s really incredible. It’s been this incredible journey, really two decades in the making, five years or so with a much more intentional pursuit of it to try and map these things and then build tools, that would go out into the world and help people. And that’s really where the whole body of work has emerged from.

Pat Flynn: I love it. You’re helping us deconstruct the DNA of who we are, and what lights us up and allows us to get into flow and those kinds of things. And I think the more that we can understand who we are much like how we might take a 23andMe test, for example, to understand more about our body here we are with your work and the Sparketypes, understanding more about, well, what lights us up, which then can have certain applications. What are the applications of, for example, somebody who takes this Sparketype test and discovers more about themselves? What can they then do with that? Because I think there’s a lot of tests out there that I’m sure Sparketypes get compared to StrengthFinders and 16Personalities and all these kinds of things where, okay, it’s cool to know, but what do I do with that?

Jonathan Fields: And that was one of my big things. When I said yes to a project of this scope, which takes a huge amount of energy and resources to develop. We’ve all taken most of those assessments out there and typing profiles and stuff like that. And a lot of them have great value. A lot of them speak more broadly to personality, to relational styles. They’re two different strengths assessments that I’m aware of StrengthsFinder and the VIA strengths. One speaks mostly to skills and talents. The other to fundamental character traits. When I looked at the universe of things that were out there, I said, this is fascinating. Just like you said, it’s kind of cool to know, but what do I do with these? And it wasn’t super clear to me. And they also, they weren’t speaking to the one fundamental question that I was trying to answer, which is how do I wake up in the morning and understand how to make a discerning choice?

Jonathan Fields: What to say yes or no to, in the context of either work that is available to me or may presented to me, or if I’m building my own business or my own product or my own service, how do I actually understand beneath the title, beneath the description? What is the effort that it will take to make this happen and will that either fill me up or empty me out? And I wasn’t seeing that in the marketplace and that’s fundamentally what these Sparketypes are about. So on a personal level, this is a tool that lets you look at the way that you’re working and better understand what to say yes or no to. If I exert myself in this particular way, or if I build this service, or build this product, or if I say yes to this team, will it allow this impulse that’s inside of me to work in a very particular way?

Jonathan Fields: Will it give it a chance to come out? Will it let it be fully expressed in the world? And then as we build teams, as we become leaders, it works on two different levels, which has been really interesting to me. One is just personally, well, if I can understand what is the thing inside of me and tap that as much as possible as a leader, then I am much more intrinsically motivated to be my best self. And I’m actually going to be much more engaged and alive and activated and energized. And people will feel that when they interact with me as a leader, but then on the other side, imagine if we actually had this fundamental profile of all the people within our organizations or our teams, and they had that information too, and they could make much better choices about where they were going to focus their energy so that the net effect is A, we move friction.

Jonathan Fields: So the friction side of things, because people are doing work that they’re really not aligned with it, dissolves away. And then the notion of motivation becomes a little bit of a misnomer. So we’ve known for years that a classic carrot and stick approach to motivation just doesn’t work for more than a hot minute. And we’ve known that intrinsic motivation, really being motivated to do a particular type of work is the holy grail of motivation. This gets you there. This is the thing that you wake up and do just for the feeling that it gives you. Oftentimes you’re working 12, 15 hours a day and you’re doing it not because you’re getting paid to do it.

Jonathan Fields: That’s really nice byproduct up, but you’re doing it because it’s letting you feel like who you are and what you’re doing matters. You drop into that place of flow, the sense of purpose and joy and expressed potential and excitement. So when you think about motivation, if we can give people the tools to understand where to align their efforts within a team or organization, especially if we’re building or leading that team and organization, as a leader, the lift that it takes from us to try and figure out how to quote, motivate somebody, it largely diminishes because they’re doing the thing that they’re here to do.

Pat Flynn: You’re no longer fighting against, but you’re going with, and it makes me think about my own journey. It took me forever to figure out that the parts that I love the most are the parts where I get to create. And I get to really see the results of helping others, right? And when I took the Sparketype test, I really loved how the questions were framed. Many of the questions were framed if money wasn’t an issue, or if you were financially free, what would still get you to keep going? And I really loved that because it really made me think a little bit more about, well, if I had all the money in the world, I’d still do these things. And that’s how I know. And so now that I’ve learned these things about myself, which again took years of self-discovery and you can discover these things quite quickly about yourself, through something like a Sparketype test, which we’ll link to in the description and all that stuff.

Pat Flynn: And you should definitely check out Jonathan’s book Sparked. We’ll talk more about the book in just a minute, but it made me realize that I should just stay in creator mode. I am a maker and a sage to use some of your archetypes. And as a result, I should not be the organizer. And somebody like Matt on my team, my co CEO, who’s been on the show several times. And if you just listened to him, you can tell that he’s the type of person to really begin to distill lots of information into something that can be used and organized. And that’s not me. I’m more of the visionary and he’s more of the integrator. And I think that I can definitely see some real value and just learning about these things about not just yourself, but the other people that you’re working with.

Jonathan Fields: And I love that profile for you. It doesn’t surprise me at all. When you take the assessment, you learn three metrics basically, and you just shared what your three are. You learn what we call your primary Sparketype, think of that as your strongest impulse for work that makes you come alive. So for you, that was the maker. And the impulse there is about making ideas manifest. It’s the process of creation. And from the outside, looking in, looking at the volume, the stunning volume of what you have created, over probably a decade or so, we’ve known each other. I mean, it’s unreal what you have created and it’s really hard to be able to create consistently at that level, because it’s not easy to you unless there’s something inside of you that says like, this is the thing. Because you’ve got to constantly make decisions and allocate resources in the context of uncertainty as the stakes keep growing higher.

Jonathan Fields: It’s that wiring, that deeper impulse for creation that really helps sustain a maker through that process. So that’s the primary for you. The two other metrics we share are what I call the shadow Sparketype. This is not shadow. And the sort of jungian dark side of things. It’s shadow because it lives in the shadow of the primary, which means that you can think of it one of two ways. It’s either like the runner up your next strongest impulse for work that makes you come alive. But we also see this much more nuanced relationship very often, which is that a lot of people will do the work of their shadow in order to be able to do the work of their primary at a higher level. So for you, you shared that your shadow Sparketype is the sage. The fundamental impulse for the sage is to awaken insight.

Jonathan Fields: It’s all about elimination. Now that can show up formally in the role of a teacher, but it can show up in almost any other context or domain as a parent. It can show up in a board group, it can show up in a biz dev conversation. It can show up as a founder or a leader with a team whose fundamental mode of leadership is to teach everybody so they become self-sufficient and not codependent on one person. So for you, that makes perfect sense for me also, because this pairing, this is what you do. It’s like you are building things that actually have this effect of turning around and illuminating a path for other people. And I’ve seen you do this over and over and over and over and all different forms and shapes that pairing also is interesting because the two different things inform each other, you’ll create something or you’ll create an experience of illumination.

Jonathan Fields: And through that, you also get feedback. That feedback then allows you to then think about what is the thing that I’m making, the container to share wisdom and how can I do it better? How can I actually make it a higher level, how can they iterate on what I’ve just created and keep making it better and better and better? And that is exactly what I’ve seen you do over a period of years. I mean, if you look at what you were first offering a decade ago compared to the level of what you create now, not that way you were doing years back was in any way bad, but the quality and the depth, literally on every level of what you’re doing, you just keep raising the bar. And I have no doubt that the volume of feedback and insight that you get back from those who raise their hand to learn from you, goes right into the process creation. I mean, at least from the outside looking in, that’s what it feels like, does that accurate to you?

Pat Flynn: That’s 100% accurate. And I mean, it’s the reason why SPI is making a shift, even in our branding and our positioning to really focus on audience driven models. I mean, that’s the name of our online summit this year that I think would’ve already passed by the time this episode comes out. But audience driven meaning building an audience, but then utilizing that audience and the feedback that you’re collecting to help inform what it is that you create. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing here. I wouldn’t have created anything I created out of thin air. It always comes from the audience in some way, shape or form. And we’re doing a little bit more of planting our flag on the ground about that and how important that is and how much easier it is to take the guesswork out of growing a business in that way. But it’s really interesting how you can see that from the outside.

Pat Flynn: My question for you is for people listening here, if for example, a person were to take the Sparketype test and they are not a maker, should they make it all?

Jonathan Fields: Yeah. And I love that question and the answer is yes, but they all also would probably create in a way that was strongly informed by what their fundamental impulse is. And they may also then partner with or collaborate with somebody who has that stronger impulse to actually just be the person who makes something from nothing. Who is driven by that deeply generative impulse of the maker. So it’s similar to like a leader. So we use the word leader in a lot of different contexts, but people kind of say, well, should somebody be a leader if they don’t have the fundamental impulse to do that thing? And by the way, one of the Sparketypes is what I call the warrior. And the impulse for the warrior is to gather, organize, lead, and protect. So somebody has that impulse.

Jonathan Fields: They’re probably the kid who was gathering friends on the playground at five years old to go on an adventure or captaining teams in junior high school, and gathering family members to go on a trip. It shows up in all parts of life and you would think, okay, so that person has the innate impulse to do this thing. Awesome. But does that mean everybody else shouldn’t do that? And the answer is no of course not, we all can get a lot of joy around this. And also we all are some blend of a bunch of different things. We identify the strongest impulses in the effort. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have some level of impulse for these. And as a leader, let’s say for example, one of the other impulses or Sparketypes is the nurture. The impulse of the nurture is to lift others up.

Jonathan Fields: It’s elevation, it’s giving care and taking care. You’re empathic. You see and feel what’s going on with people, right? So if your fundamental impulse is, if you’re the nurturer, does that mean you shouldn’t be a leader? Not at all. You could be a fantastic leader. What it does is it tells you that impulse is going to inform how you lead. So your particular approach to leadership is very likely going to constantly be scanning, really observing and understanding what’s happening within the individual and group dynamic and experiences of those who lead, where are people flourishing, where are they suffering? And you’re going to step in and you’re going to tap that nurturer’s impulse to be really astonishing at seeing people where they are meeting people where they are and knowing how to lift them up along the way when they’re struggling. And that will be your mode of leadership. So it’s like the same thing with all the different Sparketypes.

Pat Flynn: Love it. Thank you for that. What does a person do if they realize that what lights them up, what sparks them, what their nature is, is totally misaligned with the direction in life that they’ve gone down. How does a person begin to unravel that?

Jonathan Fields: And this is the very reason that actually I start the book before you even get into the book with a very brief personal note which says, you may discover something in the pages that may make you realize that what you’re doing is actually not well aligned with who you are. Please don’t blow everything up, because that is the fundamental impulse for a lot of people, they look at what they’re doing. They’ll take the Sparketype and they’ll read the book, they’ll get a deeper understanding. And then they’ll look at the work that they’re doing, and by the way this can also be the work that you have created by your own hand. I have been a founder a number of times, and found myself inadvertently creating a job within the company that I have started myself that doesn’t allow me to do the thing that I’m here to do.

Jonathan Fields: You can’t always point the finger at other people, or cultures or organizations, but if you find yourself in that place, there can be a really strong impulse to just blow it all up and start over. I believe that that is potentially one of the ways that you can do it, but it is the resort of last course, rather than first, especially for folks who are a little further into life, you’ve got responsibilities, maybe a family. It’s not just you at that point, if you decide to make a big disruptive change and we tend to be pretty delusional. We tend to believe that we’ll feel elated if we just blow everything up and then start over and then the next thing will just happen super fast. It rarely does. Usually there’s a window of sorrow and grief and disruption and picking up the pieces and then it takes some time to figure out the next thing.

Jonathan Fields: So my approach, I think is much gentler, which is first learn this thing about yourself. Then look at the thing that you’re currently doing, and then ask yourself how much of this impulse in me, how much of this Sparketype work gets out in the work that I’m currently doing. Be honest, even if it’s a hard analysis to make. Is it 10% of the time? Is it 20% of the time? Is it 70% of the time? And then once you have that benchmark, this is where it gets cool. Ask yourself. Okay. So in the context of what I’m currently doing, without changing jobs or even job description, is there some way for me to do things that will let this thing out more and do less of what empties me, are there tasks that I could look at?

Jonathan Fields: Are there processes? Are there projects, are there different endeavors? Are there teams, right? When you start from this place of self awareness and you actually, for the first time, know what the thing is that you need to be doing to get the feeling you want. Something profound happens, which is you look at the same exact job that you’re doing. And all of a sudden, most people will start to see all sorts of different ways to express this thing that they haven’t seen before, because they A, didn’t know what it was. So B, were never looking for opportunities to do more of it. But once you know it, and once you start looking, most people can actually find a lot of ways to reimagine what they’re doing so that this impulse can be integrated into the work that they doing at a much higher level. Very often enough so that it actually gives them the feeling that they want to feel without having to blow everything up. Without having to change jobs or companies or entire industries, which some people will sometimes be inclined to do.

Jonathan Fields: It’s like a reimagining process. And even if you get to a point where you say like, this is a lot better, but it’s still not getting me quite there. Well, okay. So now we’ve optimized the job for being sparked. Now let’s look at all the different ways that you may actually invest effort outside of the “J-O-B” or the work that you’ve created for yourself. Look at the roles, look at the devotions, look at the activities that you either are doing, or have the opportunity to do, and ask yourself, how can I choose things or do more of those things that are direct conduits for this impulse to get out of me and to actually be exercised in the world? And very often the blend of those, or the things you wrap around that central devotion or job or role and an optimized central thing, that blend, it gives you everything that you need to do.

Jonathan Fields: And I think that’s really important too, because as an adult in the world who also holds a value of financial integrity and security, I have a family and I want to do what I do to not cause huge disruption and support them. And that matters to me. I have a value around that. I may get to a point where I’ve optimized my job, but it’s still not quite getting me there. And realizing that you can look more broadly at all the different ways that you invest effort in your life and they will all contribute to this feeling, very often it gives us the freedom to honor that value of financial stability and security. And at the same time, it gives us ways. It gives us modes of really doing things in a way that allow us to be sparked so that we can check both of those boxes.

Pat Flynn: You know, while you were speaking, I was thinking of just a random position, a job, maybe a secretary, for example, and the secretary understands about themselves, that they are one of your archetypes, which is an advocate. Somebody who wants to use the platform that they have to make better for others. And I can imagine some very specific things that for example, a secretary could do in their position, in their role to advocate for the business, to advocate for certain individuals and their employees to make them feel better. And I can imagine that doing some amazing things in return for that person who then understands that that’s what lights them up. And because it lights them up, they’ll probably go deep and make it really interesting and exciting.

Jonathan Fields: Yeah, 100%. And playing that role is probably not a line item in the job description for that person, yet, if, once they know what that impulse is, they’ll start to actually see opportunities to exercise it all around them, that they were never looking for before, because they didn’t know it mattered to them. And you could still say in the same job, you can have the same description, the same company, but you transform the fundamental nature of the way that you’re doing it so that you come so much more fully alive.

Pat Flynn: What brings you into a flow state, Jonathan? Where do you lie? What is your archetype by the way?

Jonathan Fields: So my profile is maker is my primary, similar to you. And that showed up from the earliest age. From the time I was a kid and scientist is my shadow. So which is, and that impulse is all about figuring things out. It’s about burning questions, puzzles, quandaries. So those two interplay really powerfully for me and they have my whole life. My anti Sparketype and you didn’t name yours, but I think you described it. And I think we’re the same is the essentialist. So the work of the essentialist is effectively to create order from chaos. It’s about systems, process, clarity, utility. I love when those things are in place.

Jonathan Fields: I love the fact that we have people in our team that have that impulse and actually love to do that work because I love benefiting from that work. And I’m so happy that I’m not the one who has to do it. The producer for Good Life Project podcast maintains this wicked editorial calendar with 40 different episodes in 25 different parts of production at any time. And she happens to be an essentialist. So she really likes that word. And I love that fact. So that’s my profile. Was I right? Was your anti Sparketype essentialist also or was it something else?

Pat Flynn: It actually was advocate in fact.

Jonathan Fields: Oh, okay. Got it. I got it.

Pat Flynn: But I would imagine that if there was a secondary one, it would be that, and it’s the same thing. This is why I love Matt so much on my team because he… And the rest of the team obviously do those important things that allow for organization to happen without me having to do them so that I can do more making. So that I can do more creation, so that I can hopefully affect more lives through the internet in this way. So I mean, imagine the conversations that you could have with your teammates, just like how Jonathan and I are talking about this right now, and what that might mean for what you actually do and the things that actually allow everybody in the team to flourish in one way or another.

Pat Flynn: And I think that can add some amazing things to the culture of your brand. And so I imagine that a lot of people, and I think I remember when I signed up for the Sparketypes, there was like a group ID field, which I’m guessing means that, that allows you to identify certain organizations who all putting their data and stuff. What’s the percentage of, if you know, individuals taking this test versus actual companies who advocate for it?

Jonathan Fields: The great respondence is individuals right now. But we do work with organizations where I’ve worked with everyone from startup teams to the executive leadership team at a global organization with quarter a million people in it. And then they’ll have their senior leaders, three, four, 500 people take it. It’s really interesting. We can then pull the data and see how it’s unique to each organization, each team and see prevalence data and what is the prevalence of the different types and pairings across different teams. And then how does that show up and imagine the conversations that people have with each other when they see this data within teams, it’s fascinating. It is inspiring. There’s also, which I didn’t see coming, there’s a forgiveness element that often bubbles up in conversation also.

Jonathan Fields: And that’s often wrapped around the work of the anti Sparketype. So the anti Sparketype is the work that is generally… It’s the heaviest lift. It is the thing that comes least naturally, takes the most out of you. Requires the greatest amount of recovery and often requires the greatest amount of extrinsic motivation because of that. And again, it’s like a wiring thing. This is not like… You’re not a slacker. It’s not that you’re not skilled at it. In fact, it may be a part of your job that you just have to do. So you may have actually become quite competent at it because it’s not organically what you want to do, but nobody gets to opt 100% out of this stuff. That doesn’t just fully light them up. That’s the reality of every job, even jobs that you create, there’s parts of it that war with you.

Jonathan Fields: But when you realize that actually there’s nothing wrong with you. And it’s not that you’re a slacker, it’s not that you haven’t invested the energy and it’s not that you don’t care. It’s simply, there’s something about the way that you’re wired, where this type of work is a heavier lift for you. There tends to be a sense of just personal forgiveness around that. But also within a team dynamic, people are like, oh, okay. So the same reason it takes so much more for you to do this type of work. Well, there’s this other type of work that actually is a really heavy lift for me, too and now we understand that about each other. So there tends to be a sense of personal, but also interrelational understanding and forgiveness around these things. And also it’s easier to negotiate different ways to do different types of work within a team because we all want to be in the place where we’re doing as much of the stuff that lights us up.

Jonathan Fields: And often when we realize there’s another sense of realization, a little bit of a revelation around the fact that for many people, the work that is their anti Sparketype is actually the primary Sparketype of someone else. And we can’t conceive of that being true. Like the fact when I realized that the essentialist work, there are actually people who wake up in the morning and cannot wait to do that work. I was like, this can’t be possible because it is so utterly draining for me. But if there are those people, so it’s really cool to be able to have those conversations within different relationships and teams.

Pat Flynn: That’s so true. As a maker and a scientist, so your archetypes, what do you do with relation to your environment around you? You had mentioned having team members that do take care of this anti Sparketype for you, but your actual work environment, for example, what do you do to best set yourself up for success knowing that you are a maker and a scientist?

Jonathan Fields: One of the things that I do actually is as a maker, one of the things that a lot of makers tend to get really frustrated by is friction and inefficiency. Which is a little bit weird because as a maker also, to get to the best version of what you want to create, you’ve got to stumble a lot. You’ve got to experiment a lot, and you got to trip and fail a lot, but you’re always trying to learn from that. And you want to get to that place of the best possible output as soon as you can. Well, an interesting example actually is what we’re doing right now. For six years, I produced a podcast, Good Life Project and we still produce it, but we only produced in conversations in the studio, similar to your approach and all of a sudden last year we couldn’t do that anymore.

Jonathan Fields: Right? So the maker in me is, I have in my mind a vision of exactly how I want this thing to look and feel. And there’s a quality that I hold myself to of the output that I have. And all of a sudden I couldn’t do it. And I blinked and I was like, okay, does this mean I’m just going to tap out because I can’t figure out how to do this at the level that rises to the taste that I have for what is okay, what is acceptable for me? And I almost did, but then I said, you know what? Let me test my assumptions. And I went on a bit of an experimentation mission. So we’ve been experimenting with all sorts of different platforms and equipment. And so that I could basically step into that maker mode and completely reimagine our production and recording process.

Jonathan Fields: So that it’s remote and actually mobile, because I’ve been semi-nomadic for the last year and still produce at a level that makes the maker in me feel like, yeah, I’m proud of what we’re doing. It’s meeting the bar that I have for what I’m okay putting into the world. So there’s been a process of iteration around all the different tools and platforms. And I have cycled through a lot of different systems along the way. And that’s just one example in the context of the media that I make, that I create, that I produce.

Pat Flynn: And I’ve always interested about you ever since I first saw you on stage, just your level of production, your level of performance, and what you make is really, really high up there. So I noticed that from the outside, I just wanted to acknowledge that for you and for everybody listening.

Jonathan Fields: Thanks. And that’s one of the things I’ve admired about you as well. From the beginning, you could tell, you have a vision of what you want this thing to be, and you’re constantly iterating on how to do it. And the other thing that had to reimagine is our systems and processes more broadly, and our team. In order to meet… Because I’m now doing things differently as a maker. And that means there are things I don’t want to be doing all of a sudden again. So we needed to reimagine our team to a certain extent. And there are also really simple things like our show is ad supported, which means that I’m doing ad reads and I’m totally cool doing it. And I love our sponsors and at the same time, for some reason, there’s something in me that really doesn’t like writing the ad copy.

Jonathan Fields: And so that is not my best use of like the creation process of that like micro experience of what we’re doing. So we bring on someone who loves doing that, who is a wordsmith and loves copywriting and doing those things. So he is sort of like, continually re-imagining systems, processes, and team members that will allow me to do more of the stuff that just genuinely is an expression of my maker impulse and less of the stuff that makes me cringe a little bit. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because it creates friction with the thing that I do most like to do. And for me the tell, I’m curious what it is for you, too. I feel it viscerally, if there’s just perpetual resistance to doing something that objectively, it just really isn’t that hard. That’s a tell to me, I’m like, okay, so there’s something in me that’s saying, this is misaligned in some way, shape or form. And I need to figure out how to resource that better.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, for me, it’s often procrastination because if I was excited about something, I would just dive right in. So the procrastination at times is just, I don’t like doing this, so how might I get it done or who might do it for me? That being said, sometimes on certain levels, like right now I’m working on my next book. The procrastination’s coming from just fear of a project that I’m making so big in my head. So I have to weigh those things against each other sometimes. And then sometimes a tell is easy as flipping to Chrome to check something while I’m in the middle of something else. If I was actually in a deep state of flow, I wouldn’t even think about doing that.

Pat Flynn: Something is checking out of what I’m doing and that’s a tell for me, for sure. So Jonathan, I have one last question to propose to you and that is when our spark, this thing that lights us up becomes such a huge flame. It is a bonfire now that lights us up so much that we are basically hustling so hard that it just starts to affect other parts of our lives. How do you respond to overwork with relation to the things that we love doing so much? How do we keep balance all along the way?

Jonathan Fields: That’s such an important question. And I think sometimes it’s funny. People who very often create their own private practice or enterprise or business feel like, well that’ll never happen to me because I’m doing what I love.

Pat Flynn: Right. Right. What do they say? It’s like, do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day. Right?

Jonathan Fields: Right. It’s like, no, actually I work really, really hard. I work a lot of days and I love what I do, but still you don’t opt out of the risk for burnout, and for overwhelm and fatigue and stress. And very often it’s actually the exact opposite. You’re probably at a higher risk of that because you are so deeply connected and very often lose objectivity because you’re just in it all the time and it never leaves your brain. So for me, I have developed circuit breakers, basically mechanisms in my life that are designed to trip when I’m going a little bit too far down a dark hole and pull me out and remind me, oh, there’s life outside of this actually. So, an example of that might be just a weekly check-in.

Jonathan Fields: And I have been doing this for years now with three people, we’re all founders, multi times over. So we’ve been through the process, we know the life, and we all love what we do. And every Sunday there’s a form that goes out to us automatically with a series of questions that we ask, which is designed to have us reflect on what’s been going well, what are we struggling with? Are we okay investing the amount of energy that we’re doing, what’s happening more broadly in our lives? And that gets filled out literally every Sunday morning at 10:00, the three of us we’ve been doing it for years and it’s this trip wire, it’s an accountability mechanism so that we know each other really well. And we all know what our values are. And we know that we all have families that we hold dear and we will call each other and call each other on misaligned action or when we’re like losing touch of the other parts of our lives that matter to us.

Jonathan Fields: So we’ve got both an automated like tech based mechanism in terms of the prompt, the forum. And then we’ve got human accountability wrapped around that. Whereas like first me knowing that if I’m filling out this form automatically, I’m going to be basically reflecting to myself of whether I’m completely at a balance. And then it’s going to be seen by people who love me, who know me and are not there to take me down, but actually are there to basically lift me up and remind me sometimes, hey, you may need to go for a walk or you may need to spend more time with your wife, or you may need to do this because I’m looking at what’s happening in your life. And I’m also looking at the tone of what you’re writing and starting to feel like it’s not entirely healthy.

Jonathan Fields: So I have a number of different things like that set up. And also with my wife who happens to be my business partner. So we both need that to each other, because we can both get completely immersed in the work that we’re doing together. And because we’re building actually two different companies together now, it can be all consuming and we have to constantly pull out of it. The other thing for me is have a daily practice of meditation and breathwork and movement. And those are really like meta practices. They pull me out of being in the work and I happen to be in Boulder, Colorado now.

Jonathan Fields: And when I’m hiking on a mountain and I see the sun lower on the mountain that I turn around and I see my shadow 25 feet long on a trail. It just can’t help not just bring you back into the present moment and reconnect you with the sense of nature and wonder and awe and the realization that yes, work can be amazing. It can be deeply meaningful and rewarding, and you can still lose yourself in it and burn out. And there are other things that really add grace, and meaning, and purpose and joy and flow to your life.

Pat Flynn: What a beautiful way to end. Thank you so much, Jonathan. So we’ll let the sun set on this episode as everybody’s shadow is going to be 25 feet onto the ground, into the trail of life that they are on. Where can people go to take the Sparketype test? Where can they go to check out the book?

Jonathan Fields: Yeah. Thank you. It’s been amazing being able to hang out with you. The Sparketype assessment is available at That’s S-P-A-R-K-E-T-Y-P-E .com. Even if you forget the middle E you’ll still end up at our website. And the book Sparked is available at book sellers everywhere.

Pat Flynn: Awesome. Well, thank you Jonathan, for your time again, and it’s an absolute pleasure to hang out and spend time with you here. Hopefully we can do it in person at some time, once things open back up and we cross paths again.

Jonathan Fields: Yeah, that would be wonderful. Thank you so much for having me on.

Pat Flynn: Thank you. All right. I hope you enjoyed that episode with Jonathan Fields. You can find the Sparketype assessment at and you can also check out his personal site, all of his books and everything else at and can get his book wherever books are sold, I recommend Amazon and going to get it right now. What an amazing conversation, what an amazing way to end the year of amazing episodes. I remember the first episode of the year with Rob Maurer from Tesla Daily. And just here we are with Jonathan Fields today to just cap it off. And again, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, not just for me, but from my entire team as well. Thank you so much for supporting Smart Passive Income this year. Thank you so much for taking action on things that you listen to because this isn’t just about listening.

Pat Flynn: It’s about listening and applying, and I know there’s some of you, big shoutout to DJ Scoob who’s listened to literally every episode from start to finish, that’s episode one from back in 2010, to here we are now. Absolutely incredible. And I hope you find more episodes coming your way to be very valuable because we definitely have a lot more coming your way. We have some fun plans with them as well, which I’ll talk about as they come out next year, but if you haven’t yet subscribed, make sure you do that because 2022 is going to be amazing and we’re going to do it together. Thank you so much. Take care. And I look forward to serving you next year. Cheers.

Pat Flynn: Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income podcast is a production of SPI Media. We’ll catch you in the next session.

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