“It still feels, looks and smells like home” she said.
After twenty-five years of living in Canada, my new bride and I were back on these magnificent islands of Fiji for our honeymoon visiting the place she was born.
As we drove the long road to our hotel, I asked her about the things she had missed. “Young green coconut,” she said followed by a description that made my mouth water. Almost tasting the imaginary green coconut, I asked, “Anything else?” What she said next sounded a lot less appetizing, but clearly had wonderful memories for my bride: “Oh yeah, I really missed fresh caught fish and boiled cassava.”
Are you familiar with the cassava plant? It’s a root that is commonly eaten in South America and other tropical countries. In fact, it provides the basic diet for more than half a billion people. However, if eaten raw, a single serving can cause death within a few hours. It’s only after an extensive preparation process and careful cooking can it be safely eaten.
Inadequacy is like a cassava plant. If you try to swallow it without examination, it is a deadly poison.
I know. I was only seven years old when my dad left our family and I believed that I had to be responsible for my siblings and my mother. I believed I had to rescue them, but I also knew I was inadequate for the task. However, I kept trying. In doing so, I kept licking the raw cassava plant. I was well into my thirties and living my life that way because it became who I thought I was. I was always looking for people to rescue/save, looking for things to fix. I was determined to be the white knight. It wasn’t until I examined and recognized that it was my own sense of inadequacy that was driving me, that I was able to change my life.
There are few things more crippling than the belief in our own inadequacy. Feelings of inadequacy show up in a variety of forms from a generalized sense of not being good enough to believing that we are not specifically capable (when in fact we are).
As the mental mechanic for leaders, I’ve witnessed people destroy their careers, their marriages, their families and their health simply endlessly telling themselves that they weren’t good enough. No one on the outside would know, because the highly successful individuals I’m referring to are leaders doing amazing things in the world. However, they often still harbor inadequacy that is just waiting for them to take a bite.
However, there’s something I want to share with you that might surprise you: I believe that when examined rather than being repressed, inadequacy can change from poison to the fuel you need for your continued success.
Inadequacy either kills the very essence of who we are, or, when we choose to examine it, process it, and transform it, it becomes our greatest gift. Like the cassava it can go from poison to a staple. When we bring our inadequacy to the light for all to see, the unrealistic expectations we have put upon ourselves start to fall away. It can be terrifying to lay bare the very thing we have spent our lives hiding from the world, but when we do, we step through the doors of our self-made prison and into the freedom of authenticity. It is in having been placed in situations and given expectations to which we were inadequately equipped that the desire to be something better, to step up our game to the next level was born.
When we face the truth we do not want to see, when we are willing to have compassion for who we were is when inadequacy is transformed. It is from here and only here that we can choose an empowering meaning for what happened rather than a disempowering one. In my own case; as a result of not having somebody to show me how to be a leader, I got to design leadership for me. I got to develop what it could mean, to test it and apply that meaning to direct myself to serve at a higher level. From there I got to guide others to find their own unique purpose and lead by the values of that purpose. I got to design and assist other in recognizing that leadership is not about control or rescuing but rather; empowering others to also lead.
I want to put it to you to take a look what inadequacy that you might have been carrying around… I challenge you to get curious about the cassava of your own inadequacy and how you can transform that into something that will nourish your greatest life.
The Mic is Yours:
What inadequacy have you transformed into a strength?
Or what inadequacy do you want to transform into your strength?
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