I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.
This quote is taken from one my favourite books, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. The ghost of Jacob Marley explains the chains he wears to the miser Scrooge. Chains that he made for himself, through his attitudes, his experiences, his behaviour. He was cursed to carry his chains for ever.
I was re-reading the book at the weekend and it led me to think about the chains we all carry around with us, individually, organisationally, professionally.
Our chains can take many forms, have many links. Unlike Marley’s chains they are invisible, but we lug them around with us just the same. They are self-limiting beliefs. Gremlins that live in the back of our mind and tell us we can’t, it won’t work, we might fail. Nagging doubts, questions, worries, fears. What-ifs and Should-haves.
We won’t get the job, make the sale, pass the exam, hit our targets, complete the SMART objective. We are not good enough, slim enough, rich enough.
The strength of a chain depends on many factors. Its length, construction, material, the amount of fatigue it is subjected to. Many years ago I worked for a chain manufacturer, and I know how tough chains are when they are constructed well, as many of our self-limiting beliefs are. We take our time to forge them, build them. But all chains can be broken, if they are subject to the right conditions, if the safe working load is breached.
Marley was to carry his chain for ever, trapped by the past. But we are not. We have the ability to break free of those ties that bind us, the cages we construct for ourselves. We have the gift, if only we choose to use it.
What chains are you carrying with you every day? And how can you break free of them?
Image by @AATImage.