“You can force a square peg into a round hole, but not without creating lots of splinters.” I recently said to a business client. Afterwards, I considered why I believe this so passionately.
The pressure to shove something into an open space infiltrates every portion of our twenty-first century lives. At work, at home, or any other place we occupy, we rush to plug any sense of lack as quickly as we can.
- If there’s a pause in a conversation, one or both of the parties involved feel a responsibility to say something fast. Anything.
- If we find ourselves alone in the house or vehicle, most of us turn on the TV or radio to add noise, and block the silence.
- If emotional turmoil causes us to feel empty inside, we rush to fill it with food, drink, or some other substitute.
- If there’s an open position on the job, employers hurry to throw a warm body in its place.
But in our efforts to fill those open spaces swiftly, we often miss opportunities for greater good. I’ll show you what I mean.
- Pauses in a conversation allow each person to ponder for a moment, to absorb what’s been said so far, to focus on hearing, more than overstuffing the dialogue with unnecessary words.
- Silence enhances our ability to think creatively, to problem-solve, to produce good things, versus shoving mindless and useless garbage into the crevices of our brains.
- Facing the feelings in our emotional conflicts takes us through necessary steps in the healing process, where avoidance prolongs our pain, and ensures we will deal with the same situation repeatedly.
- Taking a bit more time to evaluate natural strengths and weaknesses of a job or promotion candidate can save days, weeks, months, or even years of painful insanity. (Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.)
In my work as a business and inspirational coach, I find a common pattern among leaders making similar mistakes. As a flawed human being myself, I can speak to these issues, because it takes constant monitering to make sure I don’t revert back to old habits. Yet I still catch myself in an occasional slip.
But at home or in the workplace, trying to force people to produce beyond their natural talents, and ability to learn, generates unreasonable expectations. For instance, only a fool would ask me to draw designs for a building addition. Yet someone actually placed that expectation on me once.
No matter how much I apply myself, how many hours I study and practice, I’m probably not going to create effective architechtual drawings. If I, and the company, were to invest untold amounts of time, energy, and money, I might achieve mediocre results. But does that make sense? My efforts would never lead to a smooth finish. Instead, large splinters of stress, frustration, fear, and anger would pepper the project, possibly making me and others throw our hands up in defeat.
In other words, forcing this square peg into a round hole of building design, is setting all involved up for failure. This is a preventable situation. Yet, I see organizations, small and large make this mistake often. I see parents do this to their children. I’ve done it to mine.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to learn new things, I’m a proponent of growth. However, stretching is one thing, shoving is another. Can you force a square peg into a round hole? Absolutely. The question is, “Do you want to waste precious money, energy, and time removing the splinters it creates?”
Are there splintering habits it would benefit you to break?
Exodus 36:2 (NIV)
Anita Fresh Faith
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business and Inspirational Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Expert, Certified Training Facilitator, Communications Specialist, and national speaker. Anita is also the author of, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market. Now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Lifeway, Christianbook.com, select Walmart’s, plus many fine stores, Christian and otherwise.
She’s a partner in The Zenith Zone, a business coaching firm. Member of the Christian Writer’s Guild, Toastmasters, and a client of WordServe Literary Group. A graduate of CLASSeminars for Leaders, Speakers, and Authors, a co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio, and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries. Anita co-hosts a weekly podcast, Engaging Life and Leadership with Darren Dake, available on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms.
Anita is passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research. She believes it’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith.
Her favorite past time is lounging by a river or lake in Missouri, laughing with with her husband of thirty years, Ricky.