- On May 9, 2019
I found this wooden box of beautiful silver chopsticks and soup spoons. I have two sets of them; place setting for 24. They’ve been buried in the back of a cabinet for years. Now that we are moving, I am discovering all kinds of long-lost treasures like this.
These were given to me as a farewell gift from some colleagues when I left Korea 20 years ago. I love Korean food and had very good intentions to host big parties for friends and family celebrating the cuisine when I got back to the U.S.
When I pulled those boxes out of the back corner of the cabinet and opened them for the first time in so many years, all these memories came rushing back like they were yesterday.
The happy dinners—with lots of karaoke–at traditional restaurants with our Korean friends.
The big parties we hosted in our backyard for our work colleagues.
The beautiful people I worked with, some who remain friends years later.
The fun and challenge of living in a different culture.
The reminder of a very positive and powerful time in my life.
And especially the memories of the early days of my marriage when there seemed like an endless world of possibilities before us.
Logically, I know I no longer need 24 sets of silver chopsticks and soup spoons. It doesn’t serve my current priorities.
Yet, I found it so very difficult to part with them. Like reluctantly letting go of a red balloon that I’ve held so tight that there are cord marks embedded in my fingers. Feeling a sense of loss as it fades into nothingness high up in the blue sky.
Are you holding on to something that no longer serves you well?
What you are holding on to might not be something physical. It might be behaviors or attitudes that served you well at some point and now are getting in the way of your growth and effectiveness.
In my coaching work with leaders, I often notice an over-reliance on technical expertise. Being highly competent in your technical skills is important as you progress in your field. And then there comes that time when that same thing that served you well creates an impasse to your progress.
New managers who avoid dealing with those ‘messy people issues’ preferring instead to stay in their comfort zone of what they were known for, solving technical issues. Or senior leaders who want direct involvement in every action when honing their ability to influence and prioritize in a complex changing environment would now serve them better.
The difficulty of letting this simple thing go was a wake-up call to me that is was time to observe what else in my personal leadership journey could use some letting go, what no longer served what’s important in my life now.
I’m happy to say my chopsticks ended up in a place where they will be well-used, as a much-appreciated gift to a Korean-American work colleague.
What is no longer serving you? What is it time to let go of?
Photo: ©2019, JMaliszewski, “Chopsticks”