“What are the parts of yourself you are willing to give up in order to be who you wish you were?”
Think about this question. Maybe jot down an answer.
Yoga instructor Hope Allred posed this question to her class in Ogden, Utah last January. Each class participant answered differently, and not just because they would or would not change different things. It was as if each person heard a different question.
In fact, they might as well have. Each of us perceives the world through filters of our predispositions (what we come with) and our experiences (what we learn). An internal model of our personal world builds over time. We form ideas, associations, identities and cultures that influence our perceptions.
To get a quick sense of what happened in Hope’s class, read her question several times and emphasize a different word or phrase each time. For examples:
- What ARE the parts of yourself you are willing to give up in order to be who you wish you were?
- What are the PARTS of yourself you are willing to give up in order to be who you wish you were?
- What are the parts of YOURSELF you are willing to give up in order to be who you wish you were?
Keep going. Take time to emphasize other important words like YOU, WILLING, GIVE UP and WISH. How do your answers to the question change each time?
To add to the complexity, people had unique associations with different aspects of this question. Some thought of physical parts of themselves. Others went elsewhere. One person was looking forward to an impending change. Another was dreading one. Someone had to adapt to a challenge presented by a loved one. Someone else heard the question through the filter of having been pressed to change to suit a parent’s purpose. In Hope’s class, a few of us heard words that weren’t even part of the question – and we answered in ways that were completely surprising.
Hope asked the class to assume more and more difficult yoga positions. She carefully drew attention back to the question: what parts of ourselves were we willing to give up in order to be who we wished we were? Caution? Habit? Belief? Disbelief? Fear? More? People in the class began to do things they had not done before, and had not thought they could do.
Making a Change
Before this experience, I had been hoping to make a change. I was examining my approach to the work of diversity, inclusion and equity. I wanted to step outside the boundaries of familiar ways of thinking – and of my own culture. Sometimes, though, it seems the more we need creative time, the harder it is to take it. I also had both excitement and trepidation in facing the unknown, alone. So many habits and patterns of thinking kick in when considering change.
Change is hard. Even if it is eagerly anticipated, it is uncomfortable to take a risk; to let go, do things differently and form new habits. Organizational change may seem different than personal change. Yet both require awareness, careful questioning, preparation and commitment. Both involve human behavior and the workings of the human heart.
Jody Alyn works with organizations that want to bridge gaps, solve complex problems effectively and improve results. Contact
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