Forcing the Fit

If a square peg doesn’t fit a round hole, neither the peg nor the hole is to blame. ~ Jeffrey Bryant

by Pete Ferguson

Last night I came home to a very tearful and broken seven-year-old daughter.

Recently we needed to find a new piano teacher for my kids, so we did our research and identified the “best” teacher in the area. Her resume of experience and education was excellent. We were convinced that this is what our family needed and scheduled an interview.

She met with each of our children and it seemed like a good fit – except that she warned her style works better for older children. Wanting to keep everyone together, we forced the fit.

Now my daughter, Ashley, was beginning to question her self-worth because she was clashing with the strict personality of this expert teacher. She let her emotions go at her lesson yesterday and it didn’t end well, and as a result we are now in search of a better teacher/student personality fit.

How many times have you heard “grin and bear it?”

“Suck it up?”

Sometimes that is needed to get through a rough patch, but I’m learning that upon hearing these phrases in my mind or coming out of other people’s mouths that it is also a potential indicator that there is not a good fit and something needs to change.

… the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you’re destroying the peg. ~ Paul Collins

At work I’ve similarly witnessed a bad fit – and at very senior levels. I recall years ago being asked to organize a vehicle to pick up a new VP and entourage. My company is known for the CEO sitting in a cubicle and leadership who are approachable.

The new guy was supposed to be “the guy” to take our company to the next level. He was cold and standoffish. He treated me like the hired help while every other senior leader I’ve worked around has always taken time to ask my name and a little about me.

I recall at the time thinking – the startup ride is finally over, we are now going to be like everybody else and our culture of friendly people would be going away.

Thankfully he didn’t last very long. Despite his resume and experience, his personality wasn’t a good fit and he moved on to another opportunity.

The same has happened for people on my team over the years. Great experience. Great education. Great references. But in the end, it hasn’t been a good fit and no one was happy.

I’ve found that I’m a square peg and I need to avoid trying to slip into circular holes where a lot of pressure and change must be applied for me to “fit.”

Within the many civic, religious, business, and personal responsibilities you have, there are likely situations that are not a great fit. Today is the day to identify it and search for where you will fit in better.

It is different than just quitting – it is providing an opportunity for you and the organization to soar to new heights by removing a roadblock.

What relationships are you trying to force? Maybe it is time for a different approach.


One thought on “Forcing the Fit

  1. Pete, I appreciate your sharing from your experience and from your heart! This post caused me to recall a position I held some time ago. On paper everything looked perfect: I had the credentials, the licenses, the experience; the company was solid and reputable. But, in the end, it was not a good fit. I found myself feeling uninspired and stifled — and, quite plainly, unhappy. The experience was part of my inspiration for starting Purposeful Pathway (which I created only a couple months after leaving). I committed in my heart never again to do the “practical” in spite of who I am; I committed to inspire others to embrace who they are and who God created them to be (rather than who they think they “should” be). Thank you again for sharing; inspiring and insightful as always!

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