Now Is the Perfect Time to Break Down Your Boxes

This week I’m doing what most people dread – moving. It’s not that making a move is bad; it’s exciting. The crappy parts are packing up your current house, sorting through the years worth of things that should have been tossed long ago, and creating a sense of normalcy in your new space.  

We’ve been in our current house for just over five years, but for our children, it was nearly a lifetime. They’ve grown from early primary school and are now both heading to middle school. Dolls and LEGOs by the boatload gathered dust over the years as x-box and iPads took center stage. Part of what makes a move exhausting is bidding the mental farewell to the past as it goes into the nearest trash bag.

One thing you can count on with every move is boxes, and our new house is covered with them. Big, small, enormous and every imaginable size in between. It’s the boxes that hold our most treasured possessions for a moment and then need to be broken down. If we let the boxes stick around, there would be little room for anything else. 

Kitchen

Family Room

Bedroom

Games 

Everything fits in a neat little box with a label written in black marker. Who cares that in the box marked Family Room we have things that could fit in virtually every room. Thanks to the handy box we know where things fit and where they don’t. 

As I spent hours breaking down boxes earlier today, I thought about all of the boxes that I keep putting myself and others into both consciously and without much thought at all. The unfortunate part is that like the boxes covering my floor; they can’t be broken down without effort either.  

Fat

Ugly

Stupid

Smart

Worthy

Unworthy

Loser

Nasty

Winner

Successful

Only a Mom

Sloppy

Driven

Arrogant

Kind

Victim 

Even better than our moving boxes, we can pack them five deep like the Russian Dolls I used to play with when I was young. Smart fits inside of successful which fits perfectly inside of winner all wrapped up in a big arrogant box. In today’s world, it’s probably like the LOL Surprise dolls that are selling out everywhere. The more we unpack, the more we discover. 

Isn’t It Time to Break Down Your Boxes?

At the end of the year, it’s the perfect time for us to all do some unpacking of boxes we’ve been unnecessarily squeezing ourselves and others into over the last twelve months. 

NOTICE: Where are you putting people into boxes and taping the lid shut? 

Your kid is “always bad?”

The IT person on your team should stop asking for special HR related projects…”They do IT.”

Your colleague down the hall is always laughing at something and disrupting everyone. They’re “an ass.”

I am not pushing myself. I’m nothing but “lazy.”

ASK YOURSELF: Is it always true?

Take a moment to look for examples that deviate from the box.

CHALLENGE YOURSELF: How is the box I’m putting them in helping or hurting my relationship with them?

Be honest with yourself. This is a time to take responsibility, not get worked up by their (or your) less than perfect behaviors and characteristics. 

GO DEEPER: How is the box I’m putting them into holding them back?

How does the way you see them hurt them? (Don’t forget to include yourself in this reflection). You may be tempted to say that the way you see people has no bearing on them. Don’t give into that temptation, ask yourself again: Is that true?

THE BIG QUESTION: What do I need to change about myself and my way of seeing others (and myself) to set us free to transform our relationship?

Change starts with you. When you let someone out of the tiny little box you’ve pushed them into, what’s possible from there?

Take Off the Lid

In the leadership workshop I run for primary school students, I teach them a leadership tool called “Take off the Lid.” 

Often we let bullies and others who are in a position of power put us in a box. You need to decide who you are – nobody else gets to define you. Stand up for yourself and stand strong in your personal leadership.  

Sometimes, the person who’s putting you in a box that’s holding you back is you… Make the new year one where you not only treat others but also yourself with kindness and compassion.


It’s time to do more than think outside of the box, let people out of the box too. #leadership
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