Be unencumbered

This is the advice I find I’m giving to my own children these days, as two young adults forging their way in a world where a lot of the rules have changed, or are still in flux. It’s advice I’m newly taking for myself too.

This is a day and time where the actions within free will, and the nimble mobility of easy movement, are abilities we must keep positioned to serve us, unrestricted and unburdened.

Green Chainlink

Be unencumbered

For to “be encumbered is to be restricted or burdened (by someone or something) in such a way that free action or movement is difficult.” (from my MacBook dictionary)

The root word itself is heavy, which is good, for it gets you to pause, and better understand.

Try saying it out loud; “Unencumbered.” It’s weighty too, as opposed to saying something like, “lighten up” which has other connotations anyway, or “protect your freedoms” which is presumptive and doesn’t capture everything which can be a possible culprit. For instance, on my current list of encumbrance culprits are:

  1. Stuff — because I want lightness instead, both physical and mental. I don’t want to bother with maintaining stuff I don’t use often enough to really matter
  2. Debt — because I want freedom from liability, and hate paying interest that just makes things cost more
  3. Jobs — because I prefer to think about work and Ho‘ohana. Work is necessary, and where the rewards are to be found, whereas ‘job’ is too small a container, often with other restrictions
  4. Dogma — because the only label I’m okay with is Thinker. I have gotten very wary about polarity, and how ideology and even branding can cause us to erect walls. I want to be more open-minded instead, and push myself to explore more in the learning I pursue
  5. Should-ing — I tend to separate this from dogma, in that should-ing usually hits us closer to home, coming from people we know more intimately, spending personal time with them. And they are another variable, one we will not dismiss, for they are important to us, and we want them to be proud of us [I defined should-ing in this post: A Good Ruthlessness x3.]
  6. Negativity — because Lord knows there is enough of it in the world, and I don’t want to be another contributor. From a practical standpoint, negativity is also highly ineffective
  7. Bad habits — there can be several encumbrances here [the world of auto-pilot], and the caution I always start with is in regard to physical health. When you get sick, everything else gets to be a moot point
  8. Sloth — because it’s such an energy killer. Look up sloth in a Thesaurus for the list of yuckiness it can include. No life can afford any of that stuff. Sloth kills creativity too
  9. Envy — because it doesn’t make much sense (it’s about someone else’s choices, not yours), yet is easy to fall prey to. To me, the opposite of envy is the virtue of Ma‘alahi, that peaceful persuasion of calming contentment — so much better!

You get the idea. The list can go on and your list might be different. I usually stop with 9 of anything in working through my own listings of things (case in point: Our 9 key Concepts for MWA). 9 is quite enough, for each one of these can be expanded on, and the whole self-coaching of “Be unencumbered” is to keep each of them self-managed well enough so they aren’t unwieldy, and I can fold them into my trusted system with good results.

To be unencumbered, make it relevant to your life

Going back to my children, we mostly have these kinds of conversations these days: To set the stage a bit, they are done with college, and now support themselves. Yet they are still young, unmarried, and haven’t become parents. I want them to take full advantage of their youthful energies, for as the saying goes, the world is their oyster:

  • Be unencumbered of a mortgage, for owning a home isn’t what it used to be, and you have time; wait until the industry heals itself.
  • For that matter, be unencumbered by all ownership — question what maintenance every owned thing might come with, and see it as possible baggage. Better to use-with-immediacy, whether rented, borrowed, or bartered for, and then move on.
  • Be unencumbered of middlemen, and brokers of any kind. Do for yourself to start with, to learn completely and understand well: Define what “in your best interest” is for yourself, before you hire or otherwise allow anyone else to do something for you.
  • Be unencumbered of what anyone else believes, including me and your dad. Trust in your values, think for yourself, and make your own rules to live/work/play by. Then be prepared to eloquently explain the why of your choices (you know we’ll still be asking you about them, and won’t hold back our opinions, so be ready to take an educated stand).
  • Be unencumbered of convention, all of it, and especially in learning. The world around us is a little broken right now, but that’s opportunity for you in forging a better way. Learn from everything, and everyone around you, for the world itself must be your teacher right now if you’re to navigate it successfully.

So “Be unencumbered” really helps as the catch-all of our Language of Intention as our family conversations continue. It becomes our insider-speak, and a shortcut about, then past why-we’re-talking-about-this, which helps us get into the meat of the matter quicker.

Then, make it relevant to your work

As you can imagine, “be unencumbered” is now part of my Managing with Aloha vocabulary too, in regard to the work of my businesses, for there are so many new conversations to be had, and had often. Vocabulary has always been tool-extraordinaire for us: The Best, Yet Most Underutilized Tool for Communication There Is.

This is a time to defy convention, and seize the opportunity to create better: Trump those Old Rules with Your Values.

As an Alaka‘i Manager, how can “Be unencumbered” help in your workplace huddles? What are the hot spots which come to mind for you, and can you discern what their encumbrances are?

Money, budgeting strategy, and financial literacy comes to mind relatively quickly (as with my last post, in regard to current affairs), but there are so many other encumbrances to consider.

What would be your first target?

Yellow Poppies

Here is some help in the archives, one for each of the encumbrances on my list:

  1. Stuff: Spring Cleaning at Work: Junk is not the Stuff of Legacy. How much junk is costing you money, and worse, cluttering up those spaces where good work, important and creative work, should be getting done instead?
  2. Debt: What does ‘financial literacy’ mean to you? An oldie, from 2005: One of the first posts I published here on Talking Story, about The Managers’ Kuleana we revisited a few days ago.
  3. Jobs: A Job of any Merit: Your 3 Options in Worthwhile Work. In case you missed it, this was the “we can do this!” post within a string of others this month.
  4. Dogma: Imagine having a Thought Kit: The story behind Business Thinking with Aloha.
  5. Should-ing: Have you caught the curve ball? A new initiative has come down from the top (corporate, your boss etc.): What do you do now?
  6. Negativity: Staying Positive in a Negative Workplace: When the downer isn’t the job itself, but the workplace culture.
  7. Bad habits: The 3 Sins of Management: About the bad habits of tacit approval, automatic pilot, and lies of omission.
  8. Sloth: Distract, Interrupt, Intercept, Disrupt: A simple way to focus, and deal with distractions.
  9. Envy: Downsizing gets cool: Today you have to pause a bit when you hear the word. Can we downsize to warm up to change?

A How-to Postscript: Are you using the tags here on Talking Story, listed at the bottom of each post? That’s how I came up with this list for you. For instance, try energy and/or creativity for sloth (the link I chose above was to help you with distraction.)

So much lies beyond that chain link fence… Be unencumbered so you can reach it.

Peach Profusion


    • Rosa Say says

      It can work pretty quickly can’t it? :) Sometimes the smallest burdens (small in the way we’re aware of them) actually represent significant drag.

  1. Rosa Say says

    Oct. 14 addition: Seth Godin published a blog post called “Skinnier” today which equates to getting unencumbered with business models: His point is that the trappings of the old m.o. may not be necessary today, and you might reap greater margins by dispensing with them:

    So many things that would have been money losers then can be profitable today…

    A hairdresser with direct relationships with customers can give up the storefront location and make more money by charging less and cutting the hair in her home.

    A newspaper can happily support a few reporters and an ad guy if it gives up the paper, the offices and the rest of the trappings.

    Too often, we look at the new thing and demand to know how it supports the old thing. Perhaps, though, the question is, how does the new thing allow us to think skinnier.

    Good word, “skinnier.” :-)