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How to Unlearn – the Art of non-attachment - What Got You Here Won’t Cut It Moving Forward

Lately, I stumbled upon an interesting article from one of my mentors on the practice of non-attachment and the roles we take-up in life “Non Attachment requires you not only to let go of your roles and your stories, but to also let go of the part of yourself that identifies with these dramas”.

I remember an exercise we had to perform where the instructions required us to make a mandala in nature representing all the labels, stories, roles – our life cosmos - we’ve stuck to in this lifetime and burn each symbol in order to release the hook-up narratives.

This implied all the identity roles our ego is attached, such as father, student, executive coach, brother, teacher, and the like…I had to let go of my preconceived notions about who I was, and found it difficult due to the numerous pigeon-hole descriptions of one’s life.

Letting go is not an easy process and I experience this with our Transition Leadership coaching programmes, where executives need to embed new micro-leadership competencies (i.e. delegation, feedback, strategic skills) moving from an individual expert’s to higher levels in the organisation.

As in Barry O'Reilly’s book (Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results)

· Unlearn the behaviours and mindsets that keep you and your organisational roles from moving forward.

· Relearn new leadership skills, strategies, and innovations that are transforming your ecosystem

· Break through old habits and thinking by opening up to new ideas and perspectives while achieving extraordinary results.

Experts usually try to exercise control by perfecting their technical knowledge and exercising watertight thinking, clinging onto things— knowledge status, technical power, PhD titles —simply does not make sense considering their evolving nature.

These things add to your life, but they are not your life. You’re all that’s guaranteed, and even you grow and change, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

  • What if, what we perceive as reality is not actually reality at all?

  • What if, it is simply what our mind's eye has led us to believe?

There is a story of two Zen monks, an elder and a junior, both committed to celibacy, who were travelling across country and reached a rushing river. On the riverbank was an attractive woman who was nervous of the water and asked for help in crossing. Without hesitating the older monk picked her up, carried her across, lowered her gracefully on the other side and then carried on with the journey.

A few hours later the brooding young monk could not contain himself anymore. He was upset by his elder’s actions and, under the guise of politeness, enquired: ‘Do you think it was appropriate, considering our oath of celibacy, to carry that woman across the river?’

‘I put her down,’ the elder replied, ‘as soon as I reached the other side. But you, my young friend, are still carrying her.’

This is common, isn’t it? We all carry things in our minds that we have trouble unloading. We carry stories for too long. Our monkey minds can’t let them go.

Tao of Leadership - The Paradox of Letting Go: When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.


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