I was traveling and – while I rarely use a curling iron for my hair (I’m usually too lazy for that!) – I brought my old curling iron so that I could use it to make my hair look a bit more presentable. I really didn’t think about how long I’d had that curling iron. Probably for about 5+ years. So I plugged it in and allowed it to heat up. Then I’d go at it – attempting to add a little bounce to my hair.
I kept becoming increasingly frustrated, or at least flummoxed, because it just wasn’t working very well. I wondered if it was just “my hair.” I’d leave it in there for quite some time and then: “flumpf.” Nothing.
It finally occurred to me, after doing this on the last day of my trip, that there was actually something wrong with the curling iron itself.
It was old. It had lived its curling-iron life. It was kaput.
On that last day, I tossed it into the trash can.
What occurred to me as I thought about this pretty basic and mundane experience is this:
Oftentimes in our lives, we pick up a “tool” to use to help us. It can be a curling iron to curl our hair. A hammer to hammer in nails. A computer to help with our communication.
And we also pick up “tools” that are less tangible and even more powerful in constructing our lives. Our tool for coping with loss is consuming alcohol. Our tool for emotional survival is emotional detachment. Our tool for proving our worthiness is over-giving.
What I realized is that we’re all using these tools in our lives because – just like the curling iron when it was brand new out-of-the-box – IT WORKED!
These tools worked really well for a while. And then they begin to get worn and you literally ‘grow out’ of their usefulness, and yet you still continue to use them because you’re just so used to having them around. You’ve come to rely on pulling them out of your toolbox, despite the fact that they’re now extremely outdated. Not only are they outdated, they’re actually doing more harm than good. I can’t imagine my hair was getting any healthier the longer I kept that curling iron wrapped around it.
So I’d love to challenge you this week. Take a moment to reflect on some of the “tools” you have cultivated that might not be serving your best interest anymore. And make a concerted effort to say “thanks for the memories” to them and then toss them into the trashcan. (Or the recycle bin!) Then think about what new tool you can “purchase” or learn that will make creating what you want so much more effective and enjoyable.
The trick is that we don’t really know what we don’t know until we know it. (ponder that . . . ha!)
I went out and purchased another curling iron and I was floored as to how well it actually works! I had no idea how lame my other curling iron really was until I tossed it and went out to choose a new one. It made me realize how important having the right tools are to creating what you want, whether it’s a nice hair-do, a work of art, or healthy relationships.
Do you have the best tools to get your job done?