This article by Bob Glazer originally appeared on Friday Forward.
Each year, a few podcast episodes I listen to make a lasting impact. Like a good whisky or wine, these conversations also get better with age as I reflect back on the lessons and their applications in both life and business.
For 2020, my favorite example was a discussion between Brené Brown and Tim Ferriss.
In the episode, Brown spoke with Ferriss about the concept of body armor, something that we create as a protection or defense mechanism in our lives or careers.
This figurative armor protects us from both real and perceived threats. Eventually, we see it is effective, wear it proudly and grow comfortable with the protection it provides.
Our body armor protects us from any number of things: mistakes, insecurity, shame, fear of failure, or regret.
However, we eventually grow to the point that we no longer need the protection this body armor provides. We become more adept at handling whatever we previously needed or wanted protection from, or we find that it’s just not relevant anymore for any number of reasons.
Very often, though, we fail to ditch the armor even after we no longer need it. It becomes an invisible weight that we carry around; it’s suddenly a burden, not an asset. Often, we don’t even realize that we are lugging around protection for a battle we’re no longer fighting.
Think about how exhausting it would be to carry around a heavy backpack with no practical use. Similarly, carrying around our unnecessary armor creates psychological fatigue. We need to be aware when our armor is no longer needed and make the conscious decision to remove it.
Recently, I was discussing a challenge I was facing with someone who has served as a coach and confidant to me over the past few years. Like any great coach, he listened carefully as I explained the circumstances, then challenged my assumptions and encouraged me to question the story I had been telling myself about this issue.
I reflected on his words over the next few days and realized he was right. This was a circumstance where I was likely lugging around unnecessary body armor that had served me very well for a long time, and probably contributed to past successes in similar situations, but it was no longer relevant or necessary.
It was time to ditch the armor.
Over time, we become adept at telling ourselves stories, without going back to challenge many of our underlying assumptions as we change and grow. The reality is that circumstances and situations change, the armor that that helped in the last battle won’t serve the same purpose in the next one. Something that was an asset can easily become a liability when we fail to reflect on its usefulness over time.
Where in your life or career are you telling yourself a story that is no longer true? Where might you be still wearing armor that is needlessly weighing you down?
If you can answer that question, you might feel a lot lighter.
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