During my commute, I’m currently listening to the audiobook version of Steve Chandler’s “The Hands-Off Manager.” One of the metaphors from the book resonated strongly with me and I’d like to share it with you.
Chandler talks about how managers (and people in general) have a tendency to cling to the past. Rehashing mistakes, beating ourselves and others up for things that happened in the past and retaining stress from past events.
He uses this illustration. Pretend you’re going on a trip and you have a really heavy suitcase. You’d check it at the baggage counter before getting on the plane, right? You know they won’t permit you to fly with an over-sized suitcase.
Now imagine all of the junk from your past is an over-sized suitcase you are carrying with you everyday. And not only do you have your own heavy suitcase, you’re running around the airport picking up the baggage of complete strangers. When you get to the plane, will you be able to fly? Absolutely not. This is what it’s like when you hold onto your past.
The idea here is to let go of the past. All of it: everyone who has wronged you or hurt you, mistakes you’ve made, mistakes others have made, your past worries and fears, etc. It’s done and over, there’s nothing you can do to change past events now and your past is preventing you from truly flying. Like all change, this is easier said than done. I’ve been working on this myself, and I find it necessary to constantly monitor my own thoughts and to challenge them as they enter my brain. My hope is that, with practice, it will become easier to recognize the junk from my own past and check it at the imaginary baggage counter in my brain.
Reflection: think about your own nonprofit career. Are you holding onto junk from your past that is preventing you from moving ahead and being happy in your job?