I just watched a TED talk by Jessi Arrington who makes it a point never to buy new clothes. So travelling to LA for TED, the only thing she packed where her undies and proceeded to buy everything else when she landed. I thought that was such a cool idea but alas, I don’t live in America the land of rampant consumerism and subsequently full of great discards. Here in KL, we have to import other people’s rejects from places like Japan and the US. But beyond the point of mindful consumerism which she was promoting, what struck a chord was the idea of letting go. Before she left LA, she proceeded to donate all the clothes she had bought in an effort to not hold on to things and to revel in the wonder of her next buying jaunt.

How many of us are hanging on to things or issues that no longer serve us?
For me I have been trying to downsize my wardrobe for the last 3 months. But it is still filled to the brim; of clothes I will one day wear and of clothes that were such a bargain that it serves as a shopping trophy bringing back memories of that moment when I clinched the deal. My wardrobe is just one example of my cluttered life. My medicine cabinet also looks like a seconds drug store filled with samples, hotel toiletries and god knows what else. Thank god I say for Hils, my helper who happily takes everything I give her to sell at the flea market otherwise I would be spending more money on storage.

So what is it about us that is so invested in the past and our material belongings and our issues that we hate to let go off. Or perhaps the question really is, what is it that we are afraid of in that let go. We become so accustomed to our personality, our traits, our issues that we loathe to change -because that is who we are and we have invested a great deal of time and money convincing and justifying to other people that this is who we are. So in letting go, would that mean that we have to admit that we made a huge mistake; that we are really not who we think we are and it was all a huge waste of time. Or worst, we were wrong all along. That last realisation is a huge one to swallow and most of the time we choke and end back right where we started. Anthony Robbins calls it The Story that we play over and over again to reaffirm our beliefs about us, the world and how we view it. E.g. your boyfriend betrayed you so all men can’t be trusted or you crashed at your last job so you are a failure and will fail at everything. It is this story that either limits us if it is stuck in time, or propels us to a higher level of our evolution if we live in awareness of it and are able to drop it or change it.

Brands also have stories. Great brands are wise enough to change their story when it isn’t working. However, majority of brands, like to hang on to their stories like a badge of honour to their detriment. Think Polaroid cameras who held on to their story of instant photograph despite the onslaught of digital photography and home printers. That brand has died, been resuscitated and the jury is still out if it will survive despite having Lady Gaga as their new creative director.

If Nokia had not let go of their story that they were a ‘just’ a wood pulp mill, the world at large might never have heard of them. If Apple had not let go of their story that they were just a computer maker, we would never have delighted in the iPhone, iPod or iTunes. These brands had a vision that was greater than they could imagine and it has led them here. By not limiting their belief of what they were, it became possible to be what they are.

Einstein once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. If we don’t change or drop our story, we are just engaging in futility leading to insanity. So before we plan our new strategy for life or our brand, we really need to have a no holds barred conversation with our self or our brand. Find the story and its source. What were the circumstances that led to the birth of the story? Once you have the answer, you will realise that it is nothing more than a construct. And if it is something you created, you can also let it go and construct a new story; one that will hopefully help you or your brand flourish.

So tonight I am going to find something to let go of and would love to hear if there are other brave souls who would care to do the same and share their experience with me.