Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop. – Michelangelo
In the last couple of posts, which you can find by following the Getting Started category in the blog, I’ve been looking at the things that get in your way – both outside you and inside you.
Today I want to look at the things that you find easy to do to see if you’re creating a life and business that is aligned with what you’re naturally good at.
The education system is broken
We live in a world where the education system has been industrialised – like most other things we see around us.
It’s purpose is to turn out workers that are ready for the jobs of yesterday – punctual, reliable, steady individuals willing to put in the hours for thirty, forty years doing the tasks you need doing.
It differs from country to country, of course, and the quality of education varies as well.
It’s worth thinking back to your own education – seeing if you can remember when you first started to feel that you weren’t good at something.
I always felt that I was in the bottom half of my school group, that I didn’t get things as quickly as everyone else.
Except when it came to English, that is.
I could read fast, write comfortably and I enjoyed studying history – stories of the past.
But that wasn’t a good idea, I was told.
The education system I grew up in had a very simple set of choices.
If you were smart you got to study the sciences.
If you were less able then you studied commerce.
And everyone else – well they weren’t going to amount to much anyway.
I, like millions of others, went on to study science and technology subjects.
The one good thing is that we were taught how to study, how to pass exams, how to pretend that we’d learned something.
So, we could get good marks and look the part – but really I learned very little from around the age of 15 onwards.
I don’t think this experience is atypical, if anything it’s probably the norm.
And it probably comes down to the fact that we’re afraid to believe in ourselves.
How do you feel when something comes easily to you?
Some time back I took my children to the park, where they clambered around the playground.
One of them found that he could hang on the bars with one hand, wave hello with the other, and then get hold again and make his way across.
That’s something I’ve never been able to do, even as a child.
The other child had a go and managed to do it – but found it hard going.
The one that found it easy hung there effortlessly, smiling and waving.
That feeling you get when you do something that comes to you easily – those are the things that you should keep an eye on.
They are things that the world may not consider as important, that your parents may miss.
But it’s noticing that your child can do that sort of thing and then giving them the opportunity to try something like gymnastics that might make the difference between them finding an activity they might fall in love with or spending the rest of their lives in a fruitless search for that amazing feeling they once had when they were young.
When you children are little you really should watch for these signs – for the things that they could build a life and career around.
And if you’re lucky you may be able to do this for yourself as well.
If you’re struggling, maybe you should stop
The biggest block I see with people is not that they’re faced with an obstacle but that they are too afraid to put down what they already have.
If you’ve spent years learning a profession and yet more years practising – but you go to work every day with a leaden feeling in your gut – that’s not a nice place to be.
Maybe you feel that if you walk away from it all you’re going to be a failure.
Maybe you hate what you do but you’re attached to what you get from it – the money, the prestige, and that’s what you can’t walk away from.
There are no easy answers to that – but you need to remember that you can’t do anything about what’s happened.
You can choose, however, whether it holds you back in the future or not.
If you’re doing something you love, then great, carry on.
If you don’t, then face up to the fear and ask yourself what’s going to happen if you stop.
And then figure out a way to help yourself.
It’s never too late to start again with what you love doing
If I think about my own experience, the world has arranged itself to help me do what I love doing.
If you like reading, the Internet is your friend.
If you like writing – a text editor is all you need.
But it took me thirty six years to feel like writing was something I could do again.
I’ve always written, of course, and much of what I’ve done professionally has been because I could write rather than the years of engineering training I’ve had.
Maybe I could have written more, published more if I had started earlier.
But, then again, you need something to write about – you have to experience life in some form or the other to get the material for your prose.
Your story is likely to be different – but it still comes back to whether or not you’re doing something that’s aligned with your core capabilities – the things you find easy to do.
Just run through how you use your senses.
Are you visual? Did you take pictures as a child, draw, paint, watch?
Are you auditory? Do you love music, did you listen to others, did you hear everything around you?
Are you physical, tactile? Was your thing sport, movement, dance? Did you experience things through your body?
For people like me the smell of ink and the rustle of paper makes us happy.
For the farmer who pops in notes with our grocery box, it’s the feeling of the ground under his feet, watching for tadpoles and swimming in his reservoir.
None of which appeal in the slightest for me – but that’s his thing.
So, maybe what you have to do before we go any further is answer this one simple question.
What’s your thing?
And then lets see how to build a life and business around that as we keep writing.