- Thoughts for inspired living

June 11, 2014

Outgrowing Labels

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:23 am

Bumper stickers 620bThere is a concept I learned many years ago that says, “Once you label it, you limit it.”

The labeling makes it one thing and, by doing so, makes it difficult to be another. After all, suppose a hammer wanted to be a saw, what chance would it have with that label?

“But a hammer is a hammer and a saw is a saw,” you say. Yes, that’s accurate, and assigning them labels may pigeonhole them into being used only one way. How creative have you gotten with a hammer or saw when you used it for something other than the purpose the label implied?

But I’m not lobbying for removing the labels from our tools, just outgrowing our labels in life. We have stuck on so many that we look like an old car with a zillion bumper stickers.

Once you are labeled as something, it’s hard to be something other than that label – especially someone with no labels. The person with the fewest labels has unlimited potential for growth – just like a child before they get limited by labels.

Ask a pre-school class who’s the best artist in the class and just about all the hands go up. Ask the 2nd grade class the same question and watch the significant drop off in hands being raised. The labeling process begins early.

The roles we play in life are labels and also limiting. Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday and I will admit that, for me, “Father” is the hardest label to outgrow. I, like you, have identified with a label and that makes it even stickier.

I love being a Dad and now a grandfather but the role is limiting. If you continue to treat your grown children as children, you limit them as well. I’m sure that if Bill Gates’ mother was still alive and he was visiting her, she may be asking him if he had money for the tolls for the drive home.

So how do you outgrow a label? Begin to notice how identified you are with it. If you justify it, you just put more glue on it. Just noticing the identification starts the un-labeling process.

The purpose of outgrowing our labels is to give us room to grow. Identifying with our labels just keeps us stuck.

All the best,


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