Every now and then, the focus on just one word can invite you on a reflective journey.  Especially when it’s a 4-letter word! Recently, this was the case for me as I read a daily reflection on how – and how often – we use the word TAKE.

I had never really “taken” the time to think about this before. And long after I had put this original daily reflection aside, I couldn’t stop thinking about this simple word and how I use it – or maybe, more importantly, how I misuse it.  As is often the case, when I misuse something — consciously or subconsciously – it’s inevitable that eventually it misuses me.

I kept thinking about my take on this.

As hours rolled into days, a plethora of examples of “take” kept coming to mind.  Not ill-intended examples (although a few of those came to mind) but rather the innocent kind where we can pay the highest price – or perhaps miss the greatest opportunity.  In full-disclosure, and with fair warning, once you start thinking of examples it will be hard to stop … unless of course, you take a break!  How often have you said or heard:

  • Take a vacation
  • Take a photograph
  • Take a nap
  • Take a day off
  • Take questions
  • Take input
  • Take a moment
  • Take on something
  • Take a stand
  • Take the opportunity
  • Take advantage of someone
  • Take someone for granted
  • And maybe most telling … take possession.

While it’s one thing to think of examples, it is another to think of unintended implications – specifically how taking something, well, can take the joy away!

While I realize this seems conceptual, maybe it has very practical significance.  Let’s “take” the first example from the list above:

How often does someone “take” a vacation only to feel the stress of making the most of it in trying to “take” the most from the experience. It’s no wonder that some people say they had to come home to rest-up after their vacation.

Our take can imply control-of or power-over.

The second example from the above list may be even more telling – taking a photograph. It’s no wonder, in some cultures, why it’s considered offensive to take a photo of someone. And taking it a step further, in some pre-modern cultures, taking a photograph of someone was considered the equivalent to stealing their soul.

When I see a great photographer at work, it doesn’t seem to me that they are taking anything.  As I watch them, it seems much more like they are receiving the image into their lens – and ultimately into their soul.

Our “taking” may also explain the root cause of some miscommunication. How often have you heard someone say: Well that’s not how I took it!  Yep, there we go taking again.

I’ve always heard that it is better to give than receive.  While there is some wonderful truth in that, this can shade a deeper truth … it can be much harder to receive.

What if we quit taking so much and just opened ourselves up for receiving? Could it be that gratitude and joy — and even more importantly, connection – would come from that? Receive the image in the lens of the camera. Receive each experience on a vacation.  Receive the words in a conversation. Even in concept, you might start to find that “taking” feels like a grab.

Receiving feels like a flow.

While it may seem like a simple play on words, it has the possibility of compelling ramifications – in leadership, in teamwork, in collaboration, in relationships and, most importantly, in the deepening of our own individual and collective integrity.

If you think of examples long enough, you won’t only know the difference – you will feel the difference.  What if John Denver had changed just one word in Take Me Home Country Road.  “Bring Me Home” may have moved this already inspiring song to a whole new level of invitation … to a sense of being received rather than taken. Those of you who love this song may be thinking: You have just taken this a bit too far!! That could be … or it could be that it might just take a bit of unlearning and relearning these familiar lyrics before it seems to fit.  That is the uncomfortable journey of any transformation.

In the end, receiving rather than taking may very well open our eyes to see everything in life as a gift – a gift always to be received, yet never to be taken.

What’s your take on this?  As always, I’d love to hear your examples and insights. PLEASE SHARE below.