“I am tired of everyone seeing me as only a supply chain leader. I want to be more than that.”
“Why do they keep giving me sales opportunities when I want to gain experience in operations?”
“They can’t see past the fact that I am a young woman. It is so frustrating!”
I have heard countless claims like these from people over the years — frustration that bubbles to the surface because others keep placing them in a box and they want to break free. The challenge is, many times, we were unknowing participants in keeping ourselves boxed in. Think back to the times you introduced yourself by your current job title. Consider the time the company asked you to take a position where they needed you without giving thought to what you needed to round out your experience. Yes, it appears flattering when the company seeks you out to take on another new challenge but is it possible it’s just the same old challenge you’ve always done simply dressed in new clothing?
These things often happen by accident; however, they lead us down a predictable path. Is your career happening TO you or FROM you? That small difference makes all the difference. Whether it is personally or professionally, the world likes to place us in predefined boxes because it easier for them.
How many times have you stepped right into the box others have presented you with? We’ve all stepped into them in life — sometimes willingly, sometimes unwillingly. Over time, we find that we have quite a collection of boxes. The motherhood box. The sister box. The wife box. The daughter box. The female box. The religious box. The political box. The proper society box. But here’s the thing: we don’t have to step into the box. We can see it, acknowledge it, decide if we want to dip a toe in the box, then figure out how we’re going to move forward.
Sounds good in theory, but how do we make that happen the real world? Here are three tips to liberate you.
- Become aware of your boxes: Recognize what boxes you may be tap dancing in and decide whether you really want to stay in them. Awareness is half the battle. Write down the boxes you are in right now. Much like the clutter we collect in our homes over time, you just might be holding onto boxes that, deep down, you are ready to release.
- Spend some time reflecting on why you were taught to live in boxes: Map out all the unspoken rules those boxes have for you. Each one comes with fine print that we don’t notice at first glance. Those rules become clearer as time goes on. It may be startling to discover that some of the very people who taught you to live from these boxes may or may not have your best interest at heart.
- Recognize that you have the freedom to step out of these boxes: You can step out of any box and be the glorious, divine being that you are. As you become aware of the boxes you’re currently living in, remember that you get to choose which you want to keep — if any. The world’s boxes don’t define you; you get to decide who you want to be.
The invitation beckoning to us all right now is sovereignty over self. The most important step to claiming that sovereignty is to break free from the boxes. It has been my experience that once you break free from these boxes, you will never want to jump back in.
Instead, I adopted what I now call the tree philosophy: I’ve never once seen a tree hold up a sign that says, “I am a tree, and anyone who is not a tree is wrong.” They simply ARE; they are who they are, in all their majestic beauty. No boxes needed.
About: Systems thinking expert, futurist, and thought leader Kimberly Faith is the author of the award-winning book, “Your Lion Inside: Discover the Power Within & Live Your Fullest Life.” Her podcast, “The Sisterhood Report,” is a leadership portal for women to connect the dots between past, present, and future. Kim has trained and coached over thirty thousand leaders from Fortune 500 companies. She translated her coaching experience into a system known as Breakthru Branding™ and now offers an online course to inspire leaders to take ownership of their signature personal brand. To learn more, visit www.KimberlyFaith.com. Visit www.YourLionInside.com for more information specifically about the book.