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People Are Not Pegs

© 2000, Robert Knowlton

"...start thinking of yourself as an artist and your life as a work-in-progress. Works-in progress are never perfect. But changes can be made...Art evolves. So does life. Art is never stagnant. Neither is life. The beautiful, authentic life you are creating for yourself is your art. It's the highest art." -- Sarah Ban Breathnach, "Simple Abundance"

There is an old saying about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Despite our efforts and a variety of aptitude tests, many people feel like their jobs and job descriptions do not utilize their best skills, natural gifts or their Art.

So, what if we were to rewrite your job description based on your Art? What might happen?

A lot of companies say, "Our people are our best resources." Yet most often businesses do not look at the person, they look at the job to be done by that person.

I have written many times about natural gifts, which are your "Art." These are the things you do exceptionally well; yet you usually downplay or take them for granted. Funny thing is, we can often see the Art others bring to our lives, but cannot see our own.

Last week on a coaching call, I was exploring with a client (we'll call him John) the idea of his Art. Within his organization, John naturally uses his Art everyday and as usual, takes these gifts for granted. John's Art includes his ability to comprehend complex issues from beginning to end, assess the ramifications of each action and come up with a project plan.

For example, a key senior project manager resigned without any warning. This type of situation would be a major crisis for many business owners or executives and create a meltdown. Because it is his Art, John was able to calmly listen to the departing project manager and simultaneously consider all the things that had to be done to rectify the situation: keeping his team focused and together, finding a leader within the ranks to fill the position, look at the potential financial implications, and see all the challenges from beginning to end. Part of his Art is his ability to see a problem as a whole project all at once.

John's Art involves "Creativity," a suspension of judgment to enable him to come up with new ideas. He pushes aside logic allowing the spark of the answer to evolve. I hope you are getting the picture of "Art."

John did not see his Art as special. "It's just what I do, " he told me.

As John became clear about his Art, he began to let it flow and instantly come up with solutions to key problems in other areas of his company. The problems instantly become projects with a beginning and end result. I could feel his excitement across the phone.

Upon reading about John's Art, you may be in awe. Upon reflection, some readers may even find they compare or judge themselves and use another person's Art as a standard. Please stop! Each of us has our own Art. Take a look at yourself. What you bring to your work and to the world?

"The same man cannot be skilled in everything; each has his special excellence." - Euripides, 480-406 B.C.

In Lance Secretan's book, "Inspirational Leadership," he describes Art as "leveraging our talents." In a previous business, Secretan's top sales person was brilliant at bringing in business and making sales but terrible at filling out monthly reports. Finally, after two years of haranguing this Sales Artist for reports, Secretan realized he could find someone else to do that particular part of the job and thus free up the sales person to do what he did best.

He shifted the job description to fit the Art of the person as opposed to jamming a square peg into a round hole.

My experience of living on purpose and coaching others tells me, the more you optimize your gifts and use your Art, the more your life is on purpose. You naturally make your authentic contribution.

Aside from getting superior performance out of yourself and others, imagine the increased spirit and improved morale resulting from doing what comes naturally.

Imagine your organization refocusing its best resources (its people!) around the gifts these people naturally contribute and consciously creating the context for individuals to make their work a work of their Art. Wow!

Success today and into tomorrow must revolve around finding ways for us use our gifts and live our Art. This begins with you. Understand what you do well, what you love to do and what comes easily and naturally to you. The signs are everywhere.

Your job is to uncover your gifts and then ruthlessly exploit them for the benefit of others.

Look for inspired ways to allow your Art to flow. We can't afford to allow our gifts to lie unused. It has never been a natural fit putting a square peg in a round hole.

"Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music still in them." - Oliver Wendall Holmes

© 2000, Robert Knowlton
Robert Knowlton is an Executive Coach. Coaching in leadership development, advanced communication strategies, and realizing your personal and business purpose and vision. Coaching requires making a commitment to yourself. Contact me today if you're ready to move to the next level of success and fulfillment in your business and life.

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