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  • Writer's pictureshiv kumar

Get Out Of The Way

As a child growing up in India, Guava used to be one of my favourite fruits. It’s not a commonly available fruit in New Zealand, so I was very happy when one of my friends gave me a cherry guava sapling some years ago. I wasn’t sure if it would successfully grow in my backyard but I’m happy to say it has been one of my rare gardening successes! Every year, it gives us some delicious cherry guavas.

The other day I was plucking some fruits off this tree that looked ready to eat. If we don’t get to them early, the birds make sure there’s none left for us. Nobody taught these birds that “sharing is caring”! 😊. I found that most of the ripest ones seemed to be out of reach, hanging on the branches that extend over my fence. In trying to reach some of the dark purple, juicy-looking ones, I scratched my arm and hence just ditched the idea of getting to them.

As I got back into the house with my bowl of guavas, I mentioned to my wife that I got a life lesson from this tree in terms of keeping the fruits that I most wanted just out of my reach. She retorted in a witty tone that ever since I became a life coach, I seemed to find a deeper meaning in the most mundane of things. She might have said it in a humorous vein but she wasn’t far from the truth. Being on this coaching journey has certainly opened my mind up to new dimensions that I didn’t know existed.


This philosophy that things we deeply desire and fervently chase often seem to be just out of our reach has an analogy in our shadow. Have you ever tried to catch your shadow? You would've noticed that when you try to move towards your shadow it moves further out. But when you turn around and start walking, your shadow follows you.

How about this experience – you’re searching for something that you have misplaced and you simply cannot find it? It seems to have disappeared into thin air! So you give up looking, and suddenly it appears out of nowhere. Could there be a message in this for all of us who might be struggling with a challenge for a long time?

I recall a guy that used to work with me some years ago. He had arrived in New Zealand on a student visa. After completing his study, he was desperate to find an employer who would support his residency application so he could stay in the country long-term. He was working in our company on a temporary basis and his visa was due to run out in a year. He worked tirelessly doing extra hours for little compensation (as he was a casual employee), all in the hope that he would get his New Zealand permanent residence with the company’s support for his application. In the end, it didn’t work out for him and he had to return to his home country. He was understandably very dejected.

I stayed in contact with him and during our chats, I could sense his frustration at not being able to come back. He was exploring every possible avenue, even considering returning as an international student. Eventually, he gave up his dream of becoming a New Zealand resident as his parents could not afford to spend any more money on his international education. Fast forward four years, he is now well settled in another part of the world, probably much better off financially than he would’ve been in New Zealand! He managed to find another option that worked extremely well for him.

I know there is great value in persistence and perseverance. But could be there some merit in knowing when to give up? If a door does not open despite banging on it for a considerable length of time, should you be looking at another door perhaps? Maybe the other door leads to a better place. You must’ve heard of the expression “When God closes one door, he opens another”. If you keep standing in front of the closed door, even God cannot help!


The great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said “By letting it go, it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning”. This philosophy might seem like it flies in the face of the age-old advice “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” that we have heard since childhood. But does it?

Isn’t Tzu’s message suggesting that sometimes you just have to get out of your own way and allow things to happen? If you’re struggling too hard and for too long to accomplish something, at what point would you consider that maybe it is not meant to happen, or at least not at that time? How about getting out of the way so what you desire can maybe find its way to you?


‘Giving up’ can be construed as a defeatist attitude and for sure, giving up too early is never a good option. But what if you could get really good at deciding when is it time to try something else? The famous Einstein quote on the definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” could be interpreted as a vote for the benefits of knowing when to give up.

Being obstinate and stubborn is not generally representative of a positive mindset and instead of viewing the concept of ‘giving up’ as negative, defeatist, and final, you might want to see it from the perspective of not being rigid in your stance and staying flexible, nimble and adaptable. Having the mentality of accepting that sometimes you have to give something up to gain something can work in your favour and help you reach your goals, be it the original ones or the new ones.

As a coach, I have worked with clients who have sometimes struggled to accept the “giving up” approach. If you are currently wrestling with a long-held cherished goal that is just not bearing fruit, can you try letting go? I’ll take the liberty of modifying Louise Hay’s quote here - “You have been trying to achieve ______ (insert your goal here) and it hasn’t worked. Try letting go of it and see what happens”!

If you feel that talking things over might provide some clarity for the way forward, feel free to reach out to me through my website and we can arrange a time to discuss your specific situation.

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