Inevitably, if you are a client of mine, you will hear me talk about the analogy of being a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Many of us walk around with a vision of what we SHOULD be. We SHOULD be a teacher or we SHOULD be a corporate executive (e.g. the round hole). We vision ourselves as round pegs and so we walk through the world looking for a round hole to fit into.
In reality, we aren’t round, we are actually square, oblong, triangular, or any other shape but round. However, when we find that round hole and we go to make the jump into it we realize we don’t fit, so we try with all of our might to shave down our sharp corners so we can be rounded. Most of us spend a vast majority of our lives trying to shave down those corners and make it fit. Maybe you are trying to fit yourself into a corporate job because you think that means success. Maybe you are trying to fit yourself into a teaching job because everyone in your life was a teacher at some point. The vast majority of us have heard messages that the round hole is the ‘right’ hole is and we spend all of our lives trying to make ourselves fit in. However, there is a danger in living our lives by trying to change who we are to fit in.
This awareness is a process. When I introduce the concept to a client that they are trying to jam themselves into a spot that is too cramped or doesn’t fit, they always look at me perplexed and amazed. And then gradually they realize, yes a part of them has been pretending, ‘faking it’ if you will, to meet someone else’s definition of success. Once clients realize they can stop shaving their corners and embrace their roundness, their lives start to open up. They start to put more energy into doing what they WANT to do and less energy in doing that they think they SHOULD do.
I had a client who after weeks of working and analyzing, admitted she really wanted to pursue a career in design, specifically interior design. Up until now she had worked in the health care field because everyone in her life worked in health care. Whenever she talked about interior design her face lit up, but she just couldn’t get herself to really commit to it. She would come into my office we would talk about interior design and the steps she could take to make that dream a reality and she would inevitably come back disenfranchised and stuck. Finally, I explained the square peg, round hole analogy and she looked up at me with a grin. She said, you are right, I am trying to MOLD myself into a nurse because I think that defines success but in my heart I have a different definition of success
. Gradually she started taking the steps to make interior design a reality, and whenever she would get stuck/scared or defeated we would come back to the square peg analogy.
Rather then trying to mold ourselves into the perfect fit, we should be looking for the right hole, the hole that holds our unique style, passion and purpose. We should be celebrating the fact that we all are unique combinations of personality, ideas and drive.
What about you? Are you living by your own measure of success? Are you spending your life shaving your corners? OR are you embracing the unique shape that is yours?