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Be A Liver

Recently, a dear friend described me using an unexpected metaphor. She said I was like a liver. From her tone of voice, I could tell this was intended as a compliment, but my brain was fixated on the bile-producing qualities of a liver that did not feel flattering.

When she clarified what she meant by that statement, I was so touched I asked her to repeat it so I could record it.

“You are like a liver. You’re taking in all the information and you are synthesizing it and cleaning it to make it easier for other people to understand.”

This description resonated deeply with my soul. It has inspired my ongoing work as a coach and this weekly (not fortnightly) labor of love: this blog.

Today, I invite you to be a liver as well.

Being a Liver

How am I like a liver? I am undoubtedly a life-long learner. I recently heard Amy Webb on Brené Brown’s podcast describe organizations as either a “know-it-all” or a “learn-it-all” culture. I recognized immediately my deep aversion to being a “know-it-all” and a deep love of being a “learn-it-all.”

I had a psychic reading last year. One of the first things she noted was that I was trying to assimilate a lot of information. My thirst for knowledge and desire to make meaning of it were both apparent and important.

And yes, I agree with both my friend and the psychic. There is a vibrant stream of learning circulating in my system. I’m absorbing nutrients from that stream, synthesizing, detoxifying, and sharing them with my community. I am a liver.

When are you a liver? Perhaps the liver’s most important function is its ability to remove toxins from our system. Think about the stream of information that reaches us daily, whether through conversation, television, social media, or other channels. We are exposed to some excellent information, and we are exposed to toxic information.

Without a liver, when we take in toxins, we return those toxins to the bloodstream. Think about when someone has been angry with you, and you responded in kind or took the anger to the next level. When you are armored up for a conversation rather than seeking to understand. Contrast this with showing up as a liver—meeting that anger with patience and empathy and finding a path to neutralize it rather than feeding it.

We shape our reality through our thoughts, words, and deeds. When we show up as a liver, we detoxify our environment, creating a better space for ourselves and everyone around us.

I had an experience a few months ago that illustrates this. While driving home on the interstate, I was rear-ended. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and my car remained drivable. I sat on the side of the road for two hours, waiting for the police to handle all the paperwork.

Those two hours gave me plenty of time to reflect on what happened. I recognized that in the past when I had been in an accident (especially one that wasn’t my fault), that accident would become my primary topic of conversation for the next few weeks. “How am I? Well, I was rear-ended last week… let me tell you all about it!”

I realized I had no desire to talk about this accident with people. Doing so would let the toxins remain circulating in my bloodstream, reinforcing the negativity of an event that was over and done with. Yes, I was in an accident. Yes, it was a significant inconvenience. Yes, the other driver was at fault and driving irresponsibly. And now that’s done. I can count the number of people I discussed the accident with on one hand (maybe two).

Think about the stories you choose to share with the world. Are those stories life-enhancing and life-generating? Or are you letting toxins continue to flow in those stories? The stories you choose to share shape your reality, and they shape your brain. Each time I told the story of the accident, I’d be telling my brain to reinforce the neural pathways that worry about being in an accident.

I have one word of caution as you embrace your liver-ness. Bear in mind that a liver detoxifies the system and ejects those toxins from the system. It does not hold those toxins in. When being a liver, visualize a stream of information coming in, branching into two paths. One path is the information you share with the world, and the other is the information you allow to flow through you, quickly and quietly exiting the back door.

Being a Live-Er

As my friend and I discussed this beautiful metaphor, I pointed out the double meaning of the term. A liver is also a live-er—one who lives. While this may not have been her original intent, it was also fitting, especially at that moment, as we were embracing nature and a connection of friendship. We were living life deeply and fully.

In aspiring to be a live-er, I return to the words of Robin Williams’ character, Mr. Keating, from Dead Poets Society:

“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Mr. Keating offers this up after quoting Henry David Thoreau’s Walden:

“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

I embrace these qualities and envelop them in my evolving understanding of teliodosis. Living one’s life in a way that integrates doing and being. Being purposeful while fully present in the moment, living life to the fullest.

For my part, being a live-er as of late has meant removing a lot of self-imposed guardrails. I’m opening myself up to new experiences and possibilities as they present themselves. For example, Q2 2024 is the first time since 2020 that I have skipped my quarterly goal-setting process. Don’t worry, I’m sure it will be back. But at this moment in time, I am focusing more on being. The doing of goal-setting is so ingrained that it tends to happen whether I plan it or not.

What’s one shift you could make to be a live-er and suck out all the marrow of life?

Putting It Into Practice

Be a liver.

  • Pay attention to your thoughts, words, and actions.
  • Filter out the toxic information that flows into your system like a liver. Let the life-enhancing and life-generating information flow back out of you to your environment, and the toxins flow out the back door.
  • Look for opportunities to be a live-er and live life to the fullest.

I am an executive coach and life coach with software executive roots in higher education and EdTech. I coach because I love to help others accelerate their growth as leaders and humans. I frequently write about #management, #leadership, #coaching, #neuroscience, and #arete.

If you would like to learn more, schedule time with me.

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