The experts that created the Highlands Ability Battery found that Spatial Relations Visualization (SRV) may be the most important factor in determining job satisfaction. People high in SRV like to have something tangible to show for their work. Many people high in SRV work in careers involving intangible things like people and relationships. These people often reach their mid-life and wonder what they have to show for their life. Even if they’ve helped dozens of people lead more fulfilling lives as a counselor, since they don’t have anything tangible to show for it—a book, a building, anything—they become incredibly depressed. They’ll often say their work doesn’t give them any “satisfaction.”

Given the importance of spatial relations visualization, we’ll look at the characteristics and challenges for people high, low, and in the mid range of this ability.

People high in SRV are structural thinkers. They like dealing with tangible, “real,” concrete things. They especially need to have something concrete to show for the work they do. They find it very easy to manipulate 3-dimensional objects in their mind. They have no problem translating 2-dimensional plans into 3-dimensional structures.

One of my friends is very high in SRV. This summer he added an addition to his home that basically doubled the house’s square footage. But he did the whole project without written plans and did it without any problems! High SRV people can do things like that.

One of the biggest challenges for high SRV people is realizing that not everyone sees the world like they do! Since nothing seems real unless you can touch and see it, people high in SRV can find it very challenging to deal in the realm of feelings and emotions. They will ultimately be dissatisfied with any work that is completely abstract.

Since people low in SRV have no need to deal with concrete things, they are quite comfortable in the worlds of emotions, relationships, and ideas. They’re even comfortable in the realms of law and numbers. They’ll find themselves pulled toward careers such as counseling, teaching, and politics.

People low in SRV tend to be so comfortable in abstractions that they tend to overlook the connections between the abstract world and the real world. They also find it very challenging to enjoy working with hands-on tools or projects.

Spatial relations visualization is such a strong driver that people in the mid-range, those that exhibit some high SRV tendencies and some SRV tendencies, need to be particularly intentional in planning their tasks. These people way not need to have an SRV outlet in their day-to-day jobs but they should seek hobbies that rely on this ability. Good SRV hobbies include: gardening, landscaping, vacuuming, ironing, martial arts, making pies and cookies—anything that has tangible results.

Taking the Highlands Ability Battery is the best way I’ve found to help determine whether you are in the high, low, or mid range of spatial relations visualization. If you haven’t yet taken the Highlands but are feeling dissatisfied in your life even after working through the other abilities we’ve discussed, why not try completing something with a concrete result. If you feel more at peace, more centered, more satisfied, you may be mid to high range SRV.

Because spatial relations visualization is such an important factor in job satisfaction, it can be incredibly important in your life as a fundraiser. Much of our work is intangible—working with relationships, emotions, ideas. Being high in SRV, I personally tried to “tangibilitize” my work by tracking things like the number of donor contacts I made, how much money I asked for, and how much money I actually raised. These spread sheets went a long way in helping make my work tangible.

An added benefit was their ability to communicate what I did to my supervisors and to others in the organization. You can download a free call sheet at:

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