To Steven Darter, a good job fits like a pair of well-made, hand-crafted boots. It makes you feel good, it makes you look good, and it makes you stand a little taller. “And if you’re in something that doesn’t fit well, you start getting blisters, and that really hurts,” said Darter, the president of People Management Northeast, in Avon. The pain from an ill-fitting job can permeate a person’s entire life, draining energy and joy.
How does your job fit? Does your job fit you well? Is it too tight around the waist or baggy at the knees? Does it hang loosely on you and feel like it should be worn by someone else or does it fit like a tailored-made suit or a pair of comfortable shoes?
Remember those puzzles for kids who are now learning shapes? Have you ever watched a son or daughter try to force a duck shape into a hole shaped like a sheep? The harder they try the more frustrated they become. As adults, this scenario plays out often in our careers. We have become so focused on what needs to be done that we’ve lost sight of WHO WE ARE. Even if we don’t fit we still try to force ourselves TO FIT. We try to have a better attitude, implement tactics picked up from various training programs, but nothing works. At appraisal time our boss tells us that they know we’re capable of more but the truth is we’re not quite sure what more to do!
Larry Julian bestselling author of “God is my CEO” says “Could our dissatisfaction stem at least in part from working in jobs whose skill requirements don’t match our unique gifts? Are we trying to force our God-given and God-inspired uniqueness to conform to a purpose He never intended for us to have?”
Are we ducks trying to be sheep?
I caught an interview with renowned opera singer Jessye Norman on PBS and read an interview in the New York Times, both about her recently published memoir. I picked up on two things that I believe worth mentioning here.
The first was what the phrase “Stand up Straight and Sing” (incidentally the title of her book), and what it meant to Ms. Norman. It’s the phrase she heard whispered in her ear by her mother when she was 7 or 8 years old and one that she would repeat to herself because of her habit of slouching – of “resting in my right hip.” Hard to imagine because of her regal presence on stage but the message to me was not about posture. It was about knowing how to connect to your essence energy.
Coach Karen Cappello describes essence energy as the energy you exude when you are feeling empowered and strong. It is the feeling you have that comes from deep within. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve gotten up on the “right side” of the bed. “As you learn to connect with this energy and put yourself in that state,” Karen shares, “everything will flow from there.” I believe that Jessye Norman is able to tap into her true essence when she stands up straight and does what she does best – sing.
The second thing was this: “What I find today is that students, whether they are instrumentalists or singers, they’re so glued to the page, they’re so glued to the notes, they don’t get that within all of that they need to make music. And that comes from engaging yourself in what it is you’re doing.”
Connecting to your essence energy can be very useful to you as a gauge in determining whether something is FOR you or not for you starting with your job. Don’t expect your supervisor or boss to figure this out for you. Your essence energy will guide you in your decision making regarding which projects you should say yes to, which positions you should pursue and whether a solution you’re contemplating purchasing is the right one for you. It’s great especially when you’re getting unsolicited advice. If you feel your essence energy get stronger you’ll want to move forward. If you feel your essence energy diminishing then it’s probably not the best fit for you.
“When I’m engaged in activity that plays into my essence, I have a better chance to be successful and productive,”Darter said. “The more I move away from that, the greater chance I have to be frustrated and less productive.”
We need to MAKE MUSIC. We need to play a little more at what we’re doing. It’s not just about competence. It’s about being able to know the fundamentals but then create from that place in an engaging and fulfilling way. Author Leonard Sweet says “There is no creation without play. Play is oxygen for the imagination, which sparks creativity, which ignites innovation, which combusts in paradigm shifts.”
People often long for things based upon money, title, image, what society says is valuable or not valuable, or what looks cool from afar. It’s possible that the dream job you’re coveting is not really right for you. Until you dig deep into WHO YOU ARE and how well you align with the specific features of that ideal job, you might be headed down a path that leads to frustration and unhappiness and a job that simply doesn’t fit!
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