Book Review, Howard’s Gift

What I Learned From Howard’s Gift

Sort of a Review

Okay, so this isn’t a “book review” in the normal sense of the word. Instead it’s a commentary on a particular part of a book – a very small part; but I loved it so much that I wanted to share.  The book is called Howard’s Gift by Eric Sinoway and Merrill Meadow. It’s about how to inspire your life’s work; which is definitely something most of my clients and followers would appreciate. And the casual armchair type narration of the book made it feel extremely authentic. I recommend the book to anyone questioning the direction of their life and career.

But, what I  loved most about the book was a metaphor. And I loved it because it’s applicable to every single person I work with….and I plan to borrow it often…(with due credit of course)..

The Jigsaw Puzzle

The metaphor compared a jigsaw puzzle to the systematic way that a life/career plan should be formed. I loved it. I could clearly see  the connection for my clients.

Seriously, think about this…. could you build a jigsaw puzzle without looking at the picture on the box? Heck, some of us struggle with those things when the picture is right in front of us and the pieces are large! Without the picture on the box you’d be aimlessly trying to force pieces together…with no clue to what you’re doing.

Without the whole picture, you could end up with only a sky…because the pieces were the easiest to place.

And that is exactly what many of us do in life…we start forcing pieces together that simply don’t fit! That’s how we end up unhappy at work, making bad choices in our personal lives, and not finding happiness. (I know because I used to do exactly that).

We force fit pieces together as they come up. Hm….this guy seems like a good fit, I guess I could marry him….or, perhaps I should be an accountant, that sounds like something I might like. But, we aren’t considering the bigger picture. Crazy right?

The Importance of a Plan

The jigsaw metaphor described so clearly how important it is  to have a realistic vision of the end product. Ask yourself things like, what do I want my life to look like in five years or even ten? And, what do I value? What spiritual beliefs do I want to embrace? Consider things like, who do I want to have in my life and what role do I want work to play in my life? What does the entire picture look like when I visualize it?

It is only after this visualization happens that we can begin to build the outside edges of the puzzle, or the framework of our life. We can build a solid framework where we can then fit all of the pieces together.  If we don’t continually stop and ask ouselves if this piece of the puzzle fits into the finished picture of our life, we may find that we have a life of that was forced together based on goals that really weren’t that meaningful. .

A Life in Focus

Believe me, Howard’s Gift is far more profound than my simplistic explanation of the jigsaw metaphor; and I recommend you read it for yourself. But for me, for now, that one metaphor served as a framework for much of the work I have before me.

My own picture has been in focus for some time now and I have been strategically managing the pieces to fall together in all areas. This book will be another tool for this coach. It will serve as a tool for my clients and a reminder for me. A reminder that life is only complete when it matters and it will only matter if you build the whole puzzle and not just the sky.

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