Career & Money

But What About Who you are NOT?

Rebecca Liston
By Rebecca Liston |London, Ontario

I have spent hours talking and writing and pondering the concept of how Who We Really Are impacts our business, and how the process of aligning THAT with each and every thing that we DO is what makes our success all the sweeter.

But here’s something I haven’t talked about before, and really feel like I need to: We’ve never talked about Who You Really Are NOT…and how sometimes, grieving the loss of that can be profound.

When I was 19, I went off to Western to pursue my degree. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was really in pursuit of my Self.

I met Karen — a vegan, “hippie-type” who had backpacked across Kenya and traveled to Peru and smoked god-knows-what in the jungles of Borneo with who-knows-who. She smelled of patchouli and FREEDOM and I was mesmerized. Within minutes, I became a vegetarian (I mean, why not, right?!?) and started shopping for soy milk and cous cous at the co-op with Karen. I bought incense and mala beads, and started doing yoga and talking about what it would be like to build houses in Africa.

I was leaning deeply into what it would Be Like if I were Like Karen. As I sipped my chamomile tea from my pottery mug and swirled my fairie bell anklet around in some form of enchanted rhythm, I felt alive with the possibility of FREEDOM for the first time in my life.

But then…(you knew there would be a “but,” right?)…I met someone else: A Boy. A Boy who came from the world of private schools and fast cars, nice jackets, and a Prof for a dad. This boy represented — at face value — the exact opposite of what Karen represented to me, and, as kids often do, he decided to rebel completely from the life he had lived and run off in a VW van to British Columbia and live in a commune in the woods smoking pot and making wood carvings.

And despite my desire for the FREEDOM that Karen represented, and the FREEDOM that was being offered to me through my connection to This Boy, I couldn’t go. Turns out, I wasn’t the free-wheeling VW van type after all. And boy, did I grieve.

You see, I wanted to be That Kind of Person because I admired Karen and That Boy, and longed to sleep under the stars and wake up each day never knowing where we would get to next. Part of me yearned for it…but in the end, I discovered, it wasn’t exactly Who I Really Was.

And I had to let it go.

I have repeated this pattern several times in my adult life, trying on lifestyles to see how they “fit,” letting go of the pieces that didn’t and embracing those that did.

I have become, in this way, a bit of a patchwork quilt: One part radical freedom (travel feeds my soul), one part home-body (I love to leave, but adore coming back home again), one part mom (my kids are pretty cool), one part fancy-free (did you say Spa Day?!?), one part Miss Manners (someone once called me “proper!”), one part longshoreman (have you heard me cuss?!?), and one part driven-as-all-hell, and one part kinda cat-like in my laziness.

But it hasn’t always been easy to let go of the things that are NOT Who I Really Am. I still smile fondly at the scent of patchouli, and sometimes catch myself wishing I were the one on the back of That Boy’s motorcycle as he traverses the planet.

And sometimes, I grieve that (perceived) loss.

I’ve seen this in my clients, too, when it comes to their businesses. Letting go of the clients that they once served, but no longer desire to do so…releasing the office spaces or things that no longer serve them…and sometimes even retiring websites and programs that no longer speak to them, much less their clients.

And they, too, grieve.

As we grow, as we evolve, we are called to let go of that which no longer serves — people, places, and things. We shed layers of Who We Are NOT as we whittle away to our own Core; each release, each letting go, another step in revealing Who We Really Are.

And as we watch those wood shavings hit the ground, we may look upon them with a bittersweet smile.

That is Who We Thought We Were…and odds are, we may have kinda liked it…or parts of it at least. And now it is gone, and with that, we experience loss.

It is my hope, however, that, as you grow and evolve, you’ll not only like but LOVE the You that you discover as you whittle away to your own Core. And I hope that as you do so, your business grows and evolves to match YOU in delightful ways you could never quite have imagined before. For this is is our Purpose, our True Life’s Work, and it is magnificent indeed.

Rebecca Liston
Rebecca Liston |London, Ontario
Rebecca Liston helps her clients predict, pivot, and compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. Her clients quickly uncover the root of their challenges and know the actions to take to overcome them. A six-time nominee for the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award, Rebecca combines business strategy with intuition, giving her clients the edge on forward-thinking, elegant answers to their most complicated problems. Her clients include CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs. She is based in London, Ontario. What if you could get the answer to your biggest business challenge, in one sitting? Visit www.rebeccaliston.com to find out more.

More Career & Money Articles