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A Message to My 8-Year-Old Self

My friend Olga Piehler carried out this beautiful exercise recently where she wrote a letter to her younger self and this has really been on my mind since she did this.

There is so much that we can and should be learning from the youth of today, but equally, I do believe there are some helpful insights to reflect upon as a 43-year old that has learned to step into more vulnerability and courage over the past 18 months, so here goes.

Here is my message to my 8-year old self:

  • You are enough (you don’t need material items to validate your self-worth)
  • You matter (whatever you do with your life, whatever job, whatever contribution when actioned from the heart matters)
  • You are part of a single, interconnected, interdependent system (you are amazing, but as  are every single one of 7.5bn amazing humans and an amazing extended ecosystem in which life is based)
  • Prioritise connection, community, listening and belonging above all else (coming from a place of connected humanity offers abundant opportunity for all)
  • Fall in love with sensing and feeling your emotions (don’t suppress those feelings which seek to be heard)
  • You do not need to believe everything you think (stay curious and exploratory)
  • Prize experimentation and failure (over perfection and fear)
  • Go first with trust, love, and courage (don’t wait for others to offer this, you could wait a lifetime in any walk of life)
  • Listening, deep generative listening, is a skill and practicing that will serve you and every other person’s world for the better
  • Say yes more and also say no more! (Yes to diversity and variety of experience and no to compliance and fear)
  • Clarify what you value the most as you grow up and share that publicly in all walks of life (be unashamedly you)
  • Lift others up through intentional inclusion and break down exclusionary practice or barriers
  • When someone bullies another, they are hurting. Don’t take it personally and ask if they would like support/a listening ear (they may never have had that before)
  • Excess (alcohol/drugs/gambling) etc is a data point that your mind is clogged up by overthinking/searching to suppress pain of some description
  • Never, EVER, conform. Be respectful, understand others experience, but never conform to another’s command ‘just because they say so’ – debate, challenge respectfully and grow
  • Play, dance, run, be free of mind regularly and whenever you feel moved to every day you have breath in your body
  • You already have perfect balance in your life. Don’t seek to separate work from life
  • Be brave and courageous. Create content, set up a business, make a mistake. Every moment is a learning opportunity
  • Enjoy your one opportunity on the journey of life. Don’t fixate on the end, enjoy being IN the journey and relish every step taken

Finally, the critical reminder where I started this piece.

  • You are enough (you don’t need material items to validate your self-worth)

I hope that these reflections hold the mirror up to your own thinking and maybe provoke some reflection in your family setup also.

Garry Turner
Garry Turnerhttps://my.visme.co/projects/rxyz4jpo-garry-turner-interpersonal-catalyst
Combining a powerful mix of international sales and culture expertise, Garry is facilitating individual and team transformations as an interpersonal catalyst. With over 20 years of sales and relationship building experience and qualified in organisational design and development, learning & development and as a chartered member of the CIPD, he focuses on bringing intentional human-centred working to all walks of life, and has the evidence to validate this necessary paradigm shift. Whether through connection-centred workshops, keynote talks, live events or through Thinking Partnerships, Garry is driven by his two non-negotiable core values of growth and connection.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Gary, thank you for sharing your very insightful/thought-provoking article. The only thing I disagree with you is about conforming. In some cases (religious law and practices) must be conformed to in addition to what is appropriate to wear and what is not appropriate. As far as starting a business goes you just sang a love song in my ear as that is exactly what I have been doing.

    • Hi Joel, thank you so much for your constructive challenge on the topic of conforming. I really appreciate that as you are helping me think further.

      Less from a disrespect POV, but more from a don’t accept something as sacrascant just because someone tells you; stay curious, was my real intention. Maybe it is the same thing!

      Congrats on your business and I look forward to furthering exchanges on this platform.

      • Gary, thank you for your response to my comment. Years ago (in my case many years ago) if somebody would have told me I would advocate for strict conformity to religious practice and observance in addition to dressing appropriately I would have inquired as to their mental competence. I was the ultimate non-conformist. However, as I have aged my views have changed radically to the right.

  2. Welcome to the BC360 family, Garry! Thank you for sharing your 8-year-old self insights with us. I could relate to many of them. I love that you opened with “You are enough” and closed with a thoughtful reminder about being present and enjoying life’s journey. Indeed there are many chapters along the way, albeit not always easy ones. But they are OUR chapters – our stories. And that’s a priceless gift.

    • Thank you so much Laura, I really appreciate your welcome and message. I also love your message about many chapters along the way.

      If I went back in to add one more reflection to this piece, you have held up the mirror to the fact that I would add there will be many more chapters along the way an that is all ok, just know that fundamentally you are enough.

      Thank you again.

  3. Thank you, Garry, for reminding us the importance of these sorts of discussion with ourselves. I was hosting an event last night and we were discussing the basic human need of “belonging.” I like the way you share how to say “yes” and how to say, “no” more frequently. This was the main topic of discussion as each woman of the group expressed and shared how they prioritize what is a Yes and what is a No.

    • I am grateful for your reply and additions Janine, thank you.

      I must say in case of interest to the community here, that Greg McKeown’s book ‘Essentialism’ was really instrumental a few years ago in helping me step into more boundary-setting conversations around what I say no and yes to. He speaks about ‘saying no gracefully’ (and gaining more respect over time) and also about ‘trade-offs.’ i.e. I can take on X, but you will need to take back A, B or C for that to happen.

      As a salesperson, these seem obvious, but when it comes to us personally, the thinking is so different!! Does that resonate with you or would you add/challenge?

      Thanks again for your comment.

  4. Fantastic essential ingredients you’ve listed here for creating a life worth living, Garry! I celebrate that you have connected with this soul wisdom. Welcome to BizCatalyst360! I eagerly await more insights and essays from you. Thank you for these learnings that took me a long time to fully integrate. Many of your wisdoms listed have finally titrated into my bones and being.

    I would add: Keep speaking your truths from your heart even if others deflect the energy and don’t believe your words. Receive words spoken from other people’s hearts–allow their genuinely kind words to settle into your heart. Rather than only politely expressing gratitude with a “thank you” while simultaneously protecting your heart, take down the invisible shield in front of your chest & allow your heart to feel the depth of the love and kindness offered. This experience can heal and transform you in ways that you didn’t know were possible. Remain open-hearted to all of life experiences for you are here to love and be loved in return.

  5. Welcome, Gary. What an excellent blueprint for life! I’m especially drawn to the point about not conforming. I believe that if you think you need to be like “everyone else,” you’ve lost yourself. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Excellent idea and a great topic to write about, Garry! I have not tried this angle. I have written a letter from my higher-self to the future me though. That was interesting reading later on as I realized many things had materialized from it. Great thoughts! It also made me think if the 8-year-old was first and foremost wanting to hear he had invented the first flying technic Lego set ;)…

  7. My emotions this morning were overflowing before I read this piece and now you just put me over the edge, friend. I wish every 8 year old child could read this letter and be able to truly understand what it means. Oh! How much pain would be spared and how much joy would be savored! Why this kind of wisdom is only accessible to those who’ve lived the years to recognize it is our greatest mystery. Be prepared! People from the US are huggers! I for one can’t wait to hug my 43 year young friend!

    • thank you so much, Kimberly, that means an awful lot and yes , why are we not taught that our emotions and creativity are as important a sour smarts at school/home?!

      I am also a hugger so it may be messy!! :-) thank you.

  8. All great principles to live by, Garry. You mentioned a viewpoint that not many of us take the time to reflect on: When someone bullies another, they are hurting. They need help. We often focus on the person who is being bullied, yet, the bully also needs help, although he or she may not acknowledge it.

    Thank you for sharing the lessons you’ve learned.

    • Thank you so much for sharing Yvonne and you pick up one of the biggest learnings. Having being psychologically and physically bullied as I was for 2 years aged 12/13, I really held onto the belief that I was the issue for over 25 years.

      Realizing that self-compassion and compassion for others were one and the same and not separate things, was a real awakening. Thank you for your reflection.

      • You’re so welcome, Garry. We hold on tenaciously to beliefs that really don’t serve us well and it’s such a relief, isn’t it, when we discover that it’s our truth only because we believed it for so long…but it’s not the ‘whole truth.’ I’ve had my share too. :)

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