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DEAR HARRIETTE: My co-worker cannot do a single thing correctly. I have had to take the helm for him time and time again, but I only do it because I like him so much. He is a really sweet person, but he is not a competent worker. He is simply not capable of doing the work he is required to do. I’ve considered having a talk with my boss about possibly letting him go and finding someone who could do the job better. Keeping him around is honestly just a waste of money and time at this point. Is it my place to have this talk? — Incompetent
DEAR INCOMPETENT: Is there any other job that this employee could do at your company? It sounds like he is not the right fit for his current job, but since he has such a wonderful disposition, it may be worth finding something else for him or allowing for extensive coaching to get him to the point of being capable of doing this job.
I once worked with an employee who was the kindest person you could ever meet. He had the right attitude and limited skills. It was frustrating at first to give him instructions that would be bungled rather than properly executed. His attitude was the driving force that led me to keep him. Over time — a long period of time — he became competent at everything on his list. Moreover, he was an asset to the company because of his extraordinary people skills. Talk to your boss about what you have observed about this employee — the good and the bad. Find out if your boss will grant him space to stay, perhaps in a different capacity.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am an artist. My career is 100% dependent on my creativity. I’m worried that someday I will run out of ideas. What advice do you have for creatives who are worried of burning out early in their career? — Worried Artist
DEAR WORRIED ARTIST: What is your process for making art? Think about that, and consider formalizing your approach to artmaking. Where do you find your inspiration? Consider scheduling a morning meditation or run or research on a topic of interest — something that focuses your energy.
Decide that you will make art every day, no matter what. When you establish discipline, you create space for your inspiration to manifest. You may not come up with award-winning ideas daily. There may be days when nothing emerges at all. But if you commit to making art one day at a time, you set yourself up for success.
Many artists supplement their work by teaching. You should consider that as well. Do research into your local high schools, community colleges, colleges and universities. Find out what the requirements are for becoming an art teacher. Some institutions may require graduate degrees. Others may be more lenient. By putting yourself in the role of teacher, you will have another way of coaxing forth your own creativity as you invigorate creativity in others.