The Chains That Bind You
I had this image the other day.
I saw this giant chain attached to my ankle, and on the other end it was attached to a stake in the ground. I was stuck and it was dark, cold, and stormy.
Then the image switched.
All of a sudden it was sunny, warm, and clear. I was now using that same chain (not attached to my ankle) to pull myself up a mountain.
The same tool that was used to keep me in bondage was the same tool used to pull me forward.
How often that is the case in life.
Tools for Fools
Let's take the ubiquitous smartphone, for example. The smartphone is a tool (a marvelous one at that) that can increase productivity like no other personal electronic device on the planet.
Keyword there is – can.
But we all know what's usually happening on a smartphone...
Scrolling through social media feeds, constantly checking email or text messages, endlessly (re: mindlessly) thumbing through articles/photos/blogs/etc., or playing some silly game.
None of that is bad or wrong. All of those things serve a purpose and are appropriate for a time and a place.
But we've made the time and place, anytime and anyplace.
Ultimately, it's robbing you of actual productivity. Things like reading a book, doing a budget, spending time with friends and family, cooking real food (instead of just photographing it), going on a hike, preparing for that meeting, etc.
What if the most productive thing you can do is put the friggin' phone down and sit, alone, in silence and solitude?
My 10-Year-Old Shackle
I find I'm most creative after a time of silence and solitude or meditation. Ideas jump to the forefront of my mind and I become motivated to put them into action!
The smartphone isn't the only culprit. There are many things in our lives that serve a greater purpose, but we've allowed to hold us back.
For example, when I was 20 years old, someone told me my words were sharp and unintentionally hurting people. Me? Hurting people? I was mortified and immediately began taming my tongue.
However, that decision has had negative consequences in my life over the last 10 years.
I've become so soft and passive with my words and actions that I often don't say things I wish I had. Or I pass off decisions to others when I actually have a strong opinion. These are the most deleterious consequences of that one decision.
It's taken me 10 years to realize what happened. Having kids amplified the problem. And after my wife brought this up multiple times over the last few years, I've finally pinpointed where it came from.
In High School, I was pretty decisive. I played lots of sports and held leadership positions. I had no problem directing people on a field or court.
But the decline in my decisiveness went almost unnoticeable to me.
I think my friend 10 years ago actually had a point. Sometimes, my words were/are sharp, and I should be more mindful of how I'm coming across.
I let feedback that was supposed to be helpful become harmful. It led me to bondage instead of freedom. That's not his fault. It's mine.