Part 3 of a 3-part series August, September, October (Click here for Part 1 or Part 2). 

Some inventions just seem more practical than others. Velcro is a perfect example. It is durable, reusable and “holds” with a surprisingly powerful grip! And, for the most part, is able to serve its purpose with little to no visibility.

In working with leaders on their presentation skills, I have used the image of “Velcro” as a tangible and positive metaphor. Intentional movement, in a presentation, can bring energy to a message. Unintentional and excessive movement can create a destructive distraction. This unintentional and continuous movement often shows-up in the virtually endless movement of a presenter’s feet. In reality, this movement is nothing more than nervous energy finding its escape route from the body. The problem is that it is quite visible to everyone but the presenter … and distracting to them.

Velcro is a practical fix. Not literally (although, I should experiment with that option!) but figuratively. I ask each leader to imagine Velcro facing up from the floor beneath them and facing down from the bottom of their shoes. I then ask them to close their eyes step into the Velcro and feel it holding them in place. I always follow-up with the question “Can you feel it?” The answer is almost always, “yes.” The Velcro holds you in place until you need to move again. 

I am amazed at the immediate power of its grip.

So what exactly does this have to do with gravitational pull and digging for your core values? I would suggest a lot. There is no question that part of the gravitational pull, in digging to your core, is in what you face in front of you.

Yet, part of the “pull” is what has a grip on you and is holding you back. It is a whole different kind of pull that is very gravitational. It includes all you have accumulated along the way. Imagine that you are in a suit made of Velcro. Now imagine that all you have accumulated is also covered in the other complementary side of your Velcro. 

I am amazed at the immediate power of its grip.

It’s hard enough to dig to your core. It is much harder when you are loaded down with so many attachments. Sometimes you have to peel away what has its grip on you. What makes it even more difficult is that these attachments are often very good things, yet attachments nonetheless.

Shortly after completing my writing of Return On Integrity, I was introduced to the insights of the late Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk (and Richard Rhor’s insightful furthering of Merton’s wisdom). They both reference the make-up of our “False Self” and “True Self” … both of which serve a purpose. They indicate that our “False Self” is not a “bad” self, just not our True Self. The False Self, in so many ways, is the accumulation of our attachments … job title, volunteer positions, organized religious affiliation, political parties, sexual identity and so many other aspects through which we see ourselves. These are the “whats” we have accumulated along the way. And they come covered with a very heavy dose of Velcro. 

I would suggest that over time our True Self becomes clothed in a Velcro suit. And it needs to be removed to make digging to our core doable. Because, when we do, the digging becomes a lot easier.

I have often been asked why we don’t just look at current behaviors to identify our own, or someone else’s, core values. It’s because, more likely than not, those behaviors have more to do with a False Self than the truth of someone’s core. Digging to your core is not about your past or current behaviors … nor is it about some idealist future potentially defined by your current False Self. It is about digging for the truth inside of you.

Imagine an industrial strength Velcro holding the space shuttle in place on the launch pad. In preparation for take-off … or for digging … the Velcro has to be removed. This removal gives you a lot more momentum when you inevitably meet-up with the gravitational pull in front of you.

Your awareness of gravitational pull … both in what is holding you back and what awaits you … is critical to the patience and persistence of the big dig to your core.

The truth awaits. 

And, by the way, when you remove your Velcro suit, cut out a couple of pieces of the Velcro and save them. They may likely become a very valuable addition to the bottom of your shoes the next time you need to give a presentation! Its value is determined by the way you use it.

In the comments below, share your own example of a Velcro attachment!