Last week I hosted one of my Graphic Bootcamps: an advanced skills training workshop for people who want to learn more about the graphic way of working with groups and individuals. I noticed a really interesting trait in my attendees: a lot of them are just itchin’ to make their work more fulfilling and interesting – to try something new (in this case – using graphics in their work). They are skilled professionals and have been doing their work for quite some time and are very good at it. But unfortunately they are also a bit personally bored and unfulfilled – looking for a stretch and something to take them into new, more inspiring territory. Sound familiar?
Dilemma of Being Good at What You Do: There can be a real dilemma attached to being good at your work. It often means that you keep on doing it long after you are kind of over it yourself – because people identify you that way, and because it’s a relatively easy thing for you to do (you can go on autopilot) and because your financial life is built around it (gotta keep the mortgage paid). The better you get at something, the harder it can be to make a change or shift – why fix something that ain’t broke right?
But It Is Broken: However the problem is, that it really is broke – or at least in need of a makeover, if YOU aren’t feeling GOOD the majority of your time. To keep flowing in our lives, we need to keep growing, stretching and trying new things. Unfortunately a lot of us sit on our feelings of dissatisfaction, thinking we shouldn’t feel the way we do or justifying that we can’t have it all. That we are being impractical or unrealistic to expect our work and life to really feed us – in a creative or even spiritual kind of way. And, of course, we often don’t know how to go about making things better. Or fear taking the risks that are needed in order to shake things up.
Bucking the System: While my attendees are very personally attracted to the graphic way of working, they are often concerned about how their workplaces, bosses, colleagues, clients, partners, etc will react to their use of the method. They work in or are outside consultants to some pretty conventional, large or conservative sites and industries (or at least they are assuming these sites and industries are this way). They know that many brand name companies have used the visual methods to good effect – but they are apprehensive about getting them going in their own home turfs.
It Takes Some Chutzpah to Be Innovative: One thing I can say, in making changes to any unsatisfying work situation, is that it often requires some chutzpah, some risk taking and well — quite frankly, some balls (excuse me for being so graphic – hee hee). The pioneers who settled many of our countries did not lack for bravery – and neither can you if you expect to expand in your own territory. The good news is that you can be brave, while also still being scared, apprehensive or doubtful. That the most courageous people are those who act even when all of the above.
People Are Crying Out for More Creative Ways of Doing Things: As a person who has worked with organizations and all kinds of groups for many years, I can assure you that being a bit more creative, unique or different can really serve you. It has me, and the other people who are in my niche profession. Surprisingly so. In fact, being off from the norm is a great differentiator. It gets you noticed and talked about – and there are plenty of people out there willing to take a risk to try you out, if not at least for the curiosity factor.
What Is Your Differentiator? Now obviously, not everyone who is reading this has graphics and visual ways of working as their niche. This article goes out to many different kinds of people. But whether you are working in an organization currently, or are some form of self employed or entrepreneurial professional – I bet there is something in your work that you have been wanting to try. Something that you feel is a bit ‘out there’, daring or creative in some way. But you have put off doing it because you don’t know how it will be received.
Just Do It: You’ll never get the many benefits of doing something different or innovative if you don’t take the plunge in some way. I’m not suggesting you be foolhardy about it, but I am challenging you to figure out some way of trying out your innovative ideas (you owe it to yourself and to the quality of your life). Maybe there is a team member, boss, or client whom you have a good rapport with who might be more open than others. Or, someone who normally can’t afford you, but if they allow you to do it your new way, you’ll work with them for lower fee or pro bono. Volunteer situations are also an ideal place to try out some new things. Or on friends or other willing guinea pigs.
You Might Have Bigger Shifts to Make Too: There will probably be two main ways this will go for you. Either you’ll find out that it wasn’t such a big deal and people are ok with the different you or approach — or, you’ll find out that they aren’t. In either case you might have some even bigger considerations in front of you. If it went well, how can you build this even bigger, so it fills more of your time? You might need to adapt or change job positions, departments or levels. Or change your professional branding and image.
Or, if it didn’t go well – you might need to consider finding a situation that better suits the real you. There are lots of other organizations, groups and clients out there in this big ol’ world. Ones that are a better vibrational match for you and your interests. It might be a little challenging and freaky in the short term but you’ll be better off in navigating these rapids sooner rather than later. After all, life can be short, so why waste your precious time in a bad or unsatisfying fit. Get out. It can be done. SHIFT IT!
© 2007 Christina L. Merkley
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Christina Merkley, “The SHIFT-IT Coach” is creator of the SHIFT-IT Graphic Coaching Process. To learn more about SHIFT-IT, Graphic Coaching and Personal Visioning and Planning, visit www.shift-it-coach.com.