Engaging in “What’s Fitting” vs. Just “Fitting In”

The second aspect of the “Triangle of Fulfillment” (see earlier post) that I would like to address further is that of “fit“.

There are many senses of use of the term “fit“. The closest usage to what I mean here is as in the phrases ” do what is fitting”, “do the fitting thing”, “finding your proper fit with life”, etc.

Fitting” is most often associated with “fitting in — usually not mentioned at all when “fitting in” is happening, and mentioned as “you just don’t fit in here” when it isn’t. This kind of fit has to do with finding your place that already fits with what others are doing with the least friction or issues possible.

This sense of “fit” as “fitting in” suppresses development, often calls for letting go or diminishing the differences between what you see, the way you see to go about something, or what you see is being avoided, in favor of minimizing friction with the group.

The outcome of this kind of “fitting in” when it is built into the culture of a group is pseudo-community, a lack of honesty, areas of communication avoided,  and disempowered individuals. At the level of individuality, this kind of relation with others makes for little room to identify one’s strengths and gifts and organize oneself and others around them. Obviously, I am not advocating “fitting in” as central to fulfillment.

There is a way of belonging to community, a way of belonging to our times and its issues, a way of being in relationship with others in which you make room for what is fitting — from you, from them, from the community– and have the differences be a contribution to the development of those involved. (Differences when stuck become a basis of unworkability, or at best of “compromise” — usually a weak resolution. Differences when held openly can become the basis of a richer or deeper conversation in which both perspectives get clarified and ideally integrated in a higher-order resolution that does justice to what was important in each initial perspective.)

How does one tell what is “fitting“? And how does one make room for their fit with others and life?

First of all, by getting interested in it. That begins a process of attunement where you develop the ability to discern what fits and what doesn’t, what is fitting and what isn’t. The more attention paid to the question of “what is fitting?”, the more a sense of “resonance” gets developed. Behaviors are resonant, they “ring the bell,” when they make the best use of what you (and others) have to bring to the situation, and where it is the right gradient/ the right stretch of your capabilities. It is neither so grand that your efforts are likely to be futile, nor so easy that it is something you already know you can do by boilerplate. It is somewhere in the sweet spot of development for you — an interesting and contributory stretch that allows for a new freedom, a new power, or a new fit to become available.

This sense of fit is as central to personal development as it is to corporate development. Making room to be wholehearted in the contribution you can make is a key to personal fulfillment, as well as a key to a viable power to accomplish in an organization. In a corporate setting, it looks more like giving people the room to establish their own best fit, and making room for variations in how something gets accomplished providing that this room gets earned. (It also means telling the truth about who is in a job that isn’t fitting and the damage that does to other’s inspiration and enthusiasm for contributing.)

A remarkable antidote to busyness and pressure is to let go of and stop working on what isn’t “fitting, what doesn’t make the most of your strengths or relations or our times, and to stop long enough to discern what is fitting now — with you, with your relations, with our times. There is a fitting amount of engagement that is called for with fitting accomplishments that can be named and addressed. Doing so is both sustainable and developmental. In the absence of discerning this, either busyness or sloth is the likely outcome.

About Ken Anbender

Kenneth Anbender Ph.D. has spent the last 50 years working with more than a hundred thousand people directly on the principles and methods that support the fulfillment of a human life — in community and at work. He has developed a body of work that is licensable called The Contegrity Approach.

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