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  • James McPartland

Be Willing to Let Life Teach

“Be willing to let go of what you know, and you’ll gain access to what you need"

— James McPartland

Access Point: Be Willing to Let Life Teach | Blog post by James McPartland | Speaker, Author, Executive Coach

Our world today is riddled with fear and uncertainty. In the midst of so much chaos, the chances of our becoming trapped in our own patterns of thinking, being, and seeing increases exponentially. Most of us get so used to seeing the world our way, that we come to believe the world is that way. We get into a tough spot and start focusing on our own problems when usually the answer lies in working to fix someone else's.

Reach out and meet people. Reconnect with someone you already know. If the hardest person to get to know is yourself, how can you ever truly know someone else? Social distancing doesn’t mean disconnection. There has never been a better time to cultivate new relationships, fortify friendships, and see a business colleague in a whole new light.

We are all in this together fighting the good fight. Yet as you reach out, be aware that most of us feel compelled to protect the things that are unique to us. Since most people build up a suit of armor to defend themselves, start conversations by offering to share something about yourself. Let your guard down. Talk about your favorite superhero or share who you wanted to be when you grew up. Don't worry about getting the conversation perfect, just get it going.

We are surrounded in life by teachers. And each unique engagement has the potential to remind us of how different the world looks to other people. An open mind gains access to unlimited possibilities, while a closed mind allows for only a few. Deeper relationships make life richer. And now is a time to be more, not do more. We can all be more empathic, more compassionate, more forgiving, more present, and a far wiser person for it. When we let go of what we know, there is absolutely no telling who we can become.

Try this exercise:

  • List the names of five people you’d like to talk to

  • Identify what you are willing to share with each individual, and what particular question you'd like to ask of each of them.

  • Set an appointment to talk with each person

  • Lead with gratitude. Express that with everything we are all going through, you have come to realize the critical value of relationships

  • State desired outcomes upfront. Ask if they are willing to allow you to share a bit about yourself, and seek their permission to ask a personal question as well

  • Find out what you can do for them. What problem might you be able to help them fix?

  • Applaud yourself for taking the step. No matter the responses you receive, you are in the midst of a process of training yourself and others to see you differently

When you do this exercise, remember this: While it is more powerful to be interested than interesting, sometimes you need to lead the conversation with your own examples.

Over time, you will be able to assemble your own personal board of directors-- folks who have come to know you in a whole new way. There will come a point when people who really know you will jump at the chance to answer the easiest question you may ever ask them: "Knowing what you know, if you were me, what would YOU do?"

Ultimately, if you want to get anything done in the great game of life, the strength of your relationships means everything.

Letting go of what you know to go on the journey of discovering what you need requires an inspiring vision of the future.

And remember, you can't be what you can't see. So whatever it takes, find the willingness to trade in what you know for what you don’t. Let life teach and get after that vision! Everything you need to become who you’re meant to be, waits on the other side.


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