Puzzle Pieces

Jigsaw puzzle

Remember jigsaw puzzles?

And that super satisfying snap that happens when you put two right pieces together? Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about that sound that almost sends a shiver up my spine.

Sometimes I think our lives are like big jigsaw puzzles.

Lots of pieces. But there’s more than one right way to fit them together.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about two of the pieces in particular.

The piece that is us

I think who we are is one piece of the puzzle. All of our uniqueness is what determines the shape of the piece.

Our likes and dislikes. Our personality traits. Our hopes and dreams. Our gifts and and skills and superpowers and weaknesses. And our values and priorities. All of them contribute to the shape of the puzzle piece.

Let’s call this the Essence Piece. I’m pretty sure it’s the central piece of the puzzle.

The piece that is our work

Another piece of the puzzle is what we do for a living.

The shape of that piece is determined by the skills and strengths needed to be successful. And the mission or purpose of the work. And the policies and rules and expectations.

What you’re creating and how you create it, as well as why are crucial to the shape of the Work Piece.

When pieces collide

When we try to do work that’s wrong for us, the Work Piece is the wrong fit for the Essence Piece.

Sometimes there will be big gaps where the shapes don’t match up. The two pieces won’t stay together easily – a slight bump to the table and the two pieces will disconnect.

Other times, the only way to get the two pieces to fit together is to damage one of the pieces. And usually, it’s the Essence Piece that winds up being smashed in order to make it fit with the Work Piece.

But when we find the Work Piece that fits well with our Essence Piece? Then we get to feel that satisfying snap of two right pieces joining together. Neither the Work Piece nor the Essence Piece get hurt in the process.

Heeeere, Piece, Piece, Piece…

How do you find a Work Piece that fits well with your Essence Piece? (Because there’s not just one right way, remember?)

It’s part searching, part creating, with a side order of experimenting.

If the work in question involves being employed by someone, someone else is determining the shape of that piece. If we want to have a say in the shape, we need their buy in.

Working for ourselves gives us a lot more say in the shape of the Work Piece, but only if we’re vigilant and make sure we’re not letting outside forces such as customers shape the piece.

Either way you go, here’s what makes it a lot easier:

You need to know the shape of your Essence Piece.

The more you know about the shape of the Essence Piece, the easier it is to rule out the Work Pieces that are clearly not going to fit. And to recognize the potential Work Pieces that have the most…potential.

Proper care and feeding of your Essence Piece

It seems like most of us, or at least a lot of us, weren’t trained to take care of our Essence Pieces. I know I wasn’t.

Our Essence Pieces have been mashed up against ill-fitting Work Pieces and Friend Pieces and Significant Other Pieces for most of our lives.

And they’ve been left under the couch with the dog hair tumbleweeds of obligation and the stale bits of other-people’s-dreams popcorn and have gotten stuck to that old living-up-to-your-so-called-potential lollipop that’s been down there for 10 years.

All that stuff obscures the true shape of our Essence Pieces.

When we don’t know what our Essence Pieces look like, it can feel like we’re just guessing when it comes to finding Work Pieces that will fit.

Gaaahhh…but where do I start?

Start wherever you are.

Just…notice.

What do you know about the shape of your Essence Piece?
What parts of the piece are hidden by fuzz and crumbs?
What do those fuzz and crumbs look like?

Noticing is such a big step. And you’ll gather so much information.

For now that might be plenty.

Or maybe you’re ready to start experimenting with better-fitting Work Pieces (aka, Thing-Finding).

Maybe you’re ready for me to get my lint roller and flashlight out and serve as your Clarity Guide.

Maybe you already know that why you’re doing what you do fits fine, but you could use some help shifting the what and how of your work, so the shape of your Work Piece feels more supportive of your Essence Piece. I created the Shmorian Project Protection Prescription eCourse (free!) to help with that.

How about you?

How is your Work Piece fitting with your Essence Piece?
Is it the what, how or why that isn’t fitting for you? Or is it a little bit of all three?

{Photo credit: Jared}

5 thoughts on “Puzzle Pieces

  1. Patty K

    This is brilliant. Love it. I’m working with “experimentation” right now. Trying things to see how they’ll fit. What I’ve found interesting is sometimes what I *think* will be a good fit, turns out not to be. And vice versa. Kinda like when you spot a puzzle piece and you’re *certain* it will fit in a particular place…and then it doesn’t. My big take away: I won’t know until I try. Followed up with: not fitting does not equal failure.
    .-= Patty K´s last blog ..Let’s get something done =-.

  2. Kelly

    This is so exciting. I’m picturing this lonely sock puppet with a giant puzzle piece strapped to his face who walks around asking everyone he meets, ‘Are you my essence?” Not realizing the essence is already a part of him… Anyway…
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Is DIY for dummies =-.

  3. Abby Kerr

    Hey, Victoria! —

    This is an absolutely wonderful, um, piece. You’re describing exactly the process I’m going through right now — I am claiming my Essence piece and realizing that nothing about it needs to change. It just Is. And I’m in a season of custom die-cutting, shall we say, my own Work Piece so that it fits just right. It’s a fun process when I don’t let frustration with my Essence Piece take over.

    Again, LOVE this piece. Just shared it on Twitter and going to share it on my Facebook biz page right now. :)

    — Abby

  4. Victoria Post author

    @Patty – So true that experimentation is key. Because there’s only so much you can know before just giving it a shot. And I gotta admit, I’m not so great at the “not fitting does not equal failure” bit. I find I have to grieve when it happens – mourning the loss of what will never be, I suppose.

    @Kelly – I would totally watch a video of that. Maybe Aaaagw! will play the starring role?

    @Abby – *blush* Thank you for your kind words and for sharing! I’m loving the way you’re extending the metaphor. I’ve been working on really understanding my own Essence Piece – I’m prone to frustration when it doesn’t all make sense, like, *yesterday*. Mmm…a custom die-cut Work Piece. That’s definitely what I’m after. :)

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