Release the Familiar & Embrace the New

“Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” - Oprah Winfrey

With great risk comes the possibility of great rewards. Many of us don’t dare to question the status quo and continue to reel under the pressure of our habits. Habits that hold us back and may even be responsible to stymie our growth.

A wonderful old fable I had read and love to talk about is of the Monk, the cow, and the cliff.

The Monk, the Cow, and the Cliff

Long ago, a Monk set out on his travels across a faraway land. Night was falling, and he needed somewhere to shelter. Eventually, he found a humble shack in the middle of nowhere. A poor family lived there and the mother, father, and children were dressed in rags. The Monk asked if he could spend the night there. “You are most welcome to spend the night,” said the father. They prepared a simple meal comprising fresh milk, cheese, and cream, and the Monk appreciated their simple generosity greatly.

When they finished eating, the Monk asked them how they survived in such an isolated place, so far away from the nearest town. The wife told how they survived. “We have one cow. We sell her milk to our neighbours who do not live too far away. We keep enough for our needs and to make some cheese and cream–that is what we eat.”

The next morning, the Monk said his goodbyes and set out to continue his journey. Close to the family’s little hut, he came across the cow. The Monk pondered for a moment before leading the cow to the edge of a nearby cliff and pushing it over the edge.

Several years later the Monk again passed that way and found himself on the same road where he found lodging so many years ago. Driven by a sense of curiosity, he decided to visit the family. He rounded the curve in the road and, to his surprise, he saw a splendid mansion surrounded by landscaped gardens in the place where the little hut used to be. The Monk knocked on the door. The father of the poor family answered, now well-dressed and looking healthy. He recognised the Monk immediately and invited him in, inviting him to stay as a guest.

While they ate, the Monk asked what had changed in the years that had passed. The father explained how the family’s fortune changed. “You know, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We owned nothing else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we didn’t know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.”

The old Monk smiled.

Responding to Change

Some life-changing moments compel us to think and upskill. My friend recently lost her job because the company went in for automation of all mundane task. Without losing much time, she pursued her hobby of jewelry designing and joined courses that helped improve her skills. While she was on the job, she was reluctant to pursue this hobby and start a venture from it. Only when the door to her day job closed on her could she change the direction for the better. A life-turning event like the job loss made her push out the old habit of procrastination and embrace the change.

Change, we all know, is the only constant in this life. All of us have some cow we need to push off the cliff. My friend pushed her cow that was holding her back for several years.

How about you?

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