“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
~Lao Tzu

We can limit ourselves by the stories we tell ourselves. If we’ve defined ourselves as quiet and thoughtful, we may rarely speak up in a meeting. If we’ve defined ourselves as brash, we might never make the effort to become gentler and more intentional in our communications with others. If we’ve defined ourselves as “not good with numbers” (or big ideas), we will probably never dig into the numbers or allow ourselves to come up with – or suggest – the big ideas.

We need to let go of how we’ve defined ourselves – what we are – to become what we might be.

I’ve witnessed this with my clients. As they start to step into new behaviors or thought patterns, it’s sometimes as if there’s a boomerang that flings them back to their old ways. It’s as if something within them compels them to resist changing, even if they claim to want to change, and it just might be the way they’ve defined themselves to themselves.

This is also true for those of us who may have suffered in some way. At times our suffering can influence how we perceive and explain ourselves, which can, once again, keep us stuck to that old way of perceiving, explaining, and being. Again, we need to let go of what we are and how we see ourselves in order to become what we might be. If I see myself as a victim of my circumstances, chances are slim that I can also see myself as strong and effective. (Note – This is excellently addressed by a simple practice of listing three “wins” or “gratitudes” each day, along with what you did to help make those wins happen. Gratitudes or wins broaden your perspective and bring ease to your mind and heart, and what you did to help make them happen reinforces self-efficacy.) If I see myself – or my reputation – as tarnished somehow by what happened in my childhood – or last job – I need to, once again, change my self-definition in order to be my best “new” self.

But letting go of “what I am” can be challenging…and confusing. “Where/how do I start?” you might ask. One way to do this is the Gratitude List practice detailed above. Another best practice is to (perhaps with the help of a good friend or coach) begin to recognize and call out your limiting self-definitions – only when you’re aware of them can you begin to let them go. A third best practice is to play with questions and curiosity – “What might I be like if I weren’t ______ (whatever your current self-definition is)? What might I do?” “How is my belief limiting me? What are other options for beliefs and actions?” “How could I see this (or myself) differently?”

By using curiosity and questions, we open ourselves up to new interpretations and perspectives, and with new interpretations and perspectives, we can more easily let go of who and what we are so that we can become all we want to be.

How have you challenged your beliefs and moved forward?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.


If you want to become all that you want to become, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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Photo Credit: Yury Zap/Bigstock.com

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