Gifted and Broken

When people are born, they are born whole; they are who they are. Yet what makes up the totality of that whole being? I believe that we are all broken. Brokenness is part of our human condition.

Being human is, as the song tells us, "laden with happiness and tears." We are broken from the moment of birth until the day we die. Yes, a birth is a wondrous and joyous thing! Yet at birth, both mother and child are broken in the act. The baby breaks out of the womb. The mother expels the secret life it held for nine

Throughout our lives, we suffer many trials and experience our share of adversity. These trials strip us, shape us, and strengthen us.

Sometimes the breaks are physical such as a broken arm or rib. More often, however, the breaks are social, occupational, or political:
-- losing a friend
-- losing a parent
-- losing a job
-- losing a game
-- losing a race

The world is full of broken promises, broken homes and broken hearts.

We struggle with the "tough breaks" in life. How do we find joy? How do we find peace? How do we find wholeness?

Brokenness is integral to change. Change, by definition, entails breaking. Some wise sage once said, "If you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs." This is why change is so hard to do, in particular organizational change. No one likes it. No one wants to be changed. Yet, in order to move on and grow and improve, we must change.

When we change, we have to break with the past, with the old familiar. We have to shed our skins. We have to disturb things. We have to upset the status quo and shake people up.

Brokenness is a strategy. As change agents, we are not exempt from the breakage. By virtue of being human, we ourselves are broken. And by virtue of the work we do, we break others.

In our "use of self," do we use our brokenness? Do we OD (organization development) practitioners bring our brokenness to the table?

A few years ago there was a little book about innovation called "If It Aint Broke...Break It." For me, there was an exciting truth contained in this book: that breaking something doesn't kill it ("What does not kill me, makes me stronger.").

Rather, when we break something, it opens it up the possibility of transformation, as a butterfly must break out of the cocoon in order to fly.

But this is just half of the story. People are not only broken. They are gifted as well.

Taken together, like the yin and the yang, we have the whole of each person: their brokenness and their giftedness.

~~In our brokenness, we have wounds and weaknesses.

~~In our giftedness, we have talents and strengths.

Each person's life is the story of being both broken and gifted. How do I discover my gifts? How do I use them to reach my goals? How do I use them to better the lives of others?

What is the gift that comes hidden in the wounds that life inflicts on me?

What is the gift within the weakness that I carry?

How do I discover the gifts of others? How do I help them to discover their own gifts? To develop their gifts? To utilize their gifts?

As an OD practitioner, I often am in awe of the person sitting across from me. Whether a client, a customer, a boss, a subordinate or a colleague, I try to remind myself that they are special, both broken and gifted like me.

My approach is . . .
- to be welcoming
- to be receptive
- to empty myself
- to listen
- to be patient
- to appreciate their perspective
- to be thankful

To look for both the brokenness and the giftedness. And to value both.


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