May 08, 2017
Have you ever put a puzzle together and found two pieces that looked like they should link together but, when you tried to fit them, they were off just enough that they didn't align? You could even really kind of shove them together and, hey, cardboard bends a bit, so you could make it work. But it's going to throw off the whole rest of the puzzle and you're going to always know the two pieces weren't meant to go together.
I think finding "the one," whether it be the right job or the right mate, is a lot like finding that absolutely right puzzle piece. But, when you see one, how do you know whether it's "the one?" I've decided it really comes down to one essential element. If a pairing is missing this key component, it will be a lot like shoving two wrong puzzle pieces together and hoping the puzzle comes out okay anyway. That essential detail? Values. Whatever those may be -- whether it be "strong spiritual life," "healthy living," "honesty," "adventure & risk," "family first," "career & work success," "world travel," "green living," or anything else you feel is really really important in your life, if two people have core values in common, they are far less likely to have conflict, and far more likely to head the same direction through life.
I saw an article I found fascinating, about a study that proposes any two people can be made to fall in love with each other. The premise is that you take two complete strangers, sit them facing each other, and they must look into each others' eyes and ask a specific 36 questions of each other. The questions start fairly simply but become more personal, probing, and intimate as they go on. After the 36 questions, the two are supposed to stare, silently, into each others' eyes for 4 full minutes. Through this process, the two become increasingly vulnerable to each other, and learn about themselves and each other as well.
I find the study extremely interesting and hopeful - but I still believe that the two must share common values. Maybe through the 36 questions they discover that they don't. Rather than falling in love, they realize in only 90 minutes that they don't belong together and shouldn't struggle through trying to make a relationship work. Or maybe they realize they share a lot, and could be great together. How awesome it would be to do this as a "first date" instead of the options that currently exist. I'm a 49-year-old single woman who has decided that dating isn't for me. I'm contented and joyful in my life - my days are filled with work, post-grad school, and enjoying the last couple years of having kids still at home. But at some point when I want to share my happiness with someone else, I might just try this 36-question, values-discovery experiment.
The same theory applies to careers -- do you feel your employer, your work environment, and your supervisor, share your core values? If not, you will continuously have conflict and disappointment; you will not be as successful in a place where your values are not closely aligned. Is it possible in a job interview to ask "36 questions" that give you an intimate look at the values of the workplace where you're considering investing yourself, your potential, and your future? If only we made hiring decisions and our own career decisions based on someone's values, rather than skills alone - imagine a workplace where everyone valued the same really important things that you value. You would give more, stay longer, and probably care on a different level than you would somewhere else.
Not just everyone is deserving of that chair across from you - in a job interview (both sides), or in your personal life. I would encourage you to take a little time and sit quietly and really think about what your core values truly are. Once you know them, stand by them. As you meet new people, or look at new work situations, do your best to compare your values list with theirs, and see how many similarities there, as well as how many differences. Avoid those with a very different values list from yours. When you find someone who shares your values - your puzzle piece will fit perfectly with theirs, and the whole puzzle after that will more easily fall into place.