The Things You Carry

In law school, I read a powerful collection of related stories by Tim O'Brien about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War, The Things They Carried. I was struck by the way in which O'Brien talked about the items each man carried in his pack and why they were so valuable to him or even distracted his attention from the mission at-hand. While we don't carry "packs" with us every day, we do have "tapes" playing in our heads. Those tapes have recorded the voices from our past and we hear them frequently throughout our day. If you have been told you are a great leader, with vision and insight, you hear that supportive voice in your mind when you face a challenging moment. If, on the other hand, you have been told you have no talent for leadership, you will hear that negative voice when you try to stand up and lead. If you have been told you are valuable and needed, you will hear that encouragement as you carry out a task. If, on the other hand, you have been told you are worthless, you will hear that stinging refrain as you try to help others. The examples could go on and on.

What tapes do you carry with you every day? Which tapes should you keep playing? Which tapes should you record over? What messages are you recording on others' tapes? The things you carry can make your "pack" feel light or they can make it an unbearable burden. The same is true for your family, friends and colleagues.

Be careful about what you put in your pack and what you put in others' packs! Becky