Clearing the clutter of people

Marie-Claire Carlyle

Marie-Claire Carlyle

Last week I received a message over Facebook from one of my clients. She was delighted to be manifesting all sorts of new things as well as more money into her life but she had one question for me….how should she go about clearing the clutter of certain people from her life? Good question, I thought, so this month, lets take a look at just that, Clearing the Clutter of People.

Clutter is normally defined as something that is not loved, not useful and not kept in an orderly fashion. Applying that definition to people seems a little harsh but only if we take it personally. It may help to consider the case of a business that has become overstaffed. Any person who no longer loves their job or who no longer adds value to the organization could then be logically classed as “clutter”. They are in the way of achieving a higher productivity and larger wealth for all concerned. And so typically a redundancy programme is a company’s way of clearing the clutter of people.

Is it better to hang on to staff because we don’t want to be seen to be a nasty person? Is it right to try to make a person motivated when their heart is clearly no longer in the job?

I remember from my role as Sales Director that if a sales person’s numbers were consistently low there was usually a good reason for it. One case in particular stood out. Lets call her Carolyn. Carolyn was consistently underperforming and this was starting to have an impact on the team performance as a whole. She had received plenty of support and training but there was no noticeable improvement in her results despite her stated desire to do better. In the end I let her go with a generous package ( ie I fired her in an exceedingly generous way so that I could still feel like Mr Nice Guy).

The day after she’d left the company, the head of HR alerted me to an email in Carolyn’s inbox. It was part of a conversation between Carolyn and a personal friend. In the conversation Carolyn expresses astonishment that she is in a Sales role as she has never seen herself as a Sales person! She goes on to state that it would be a miracle if she was to make a success of it! Letting Carolyn go was the biggest favour I could have done for her. It released her, with enough money to live on for three months, to find what she really wanted to do with her life. Finding what she really enjoyed would be the key to her success, not trying to make her “round circle fit a square hole”.

The trouble is that people aren’t always honest with you about what they want, so you need to look for the evidence or be prepared to follow your gut instinct. Jo was a top sales performer in the same company but there was something about her attitude that wasn’t supportive of the company. When Jo got made redundant she was furious. She even took the company to court and won an out of court settlement. She then spent the next two years in a dressing gown , telling anyone who would listen of how poorly she d been treated. When Jo was finally honest with herself, she realized that she had hated going in to work. Whereas she used to love the company and the people she worked with, they now bored and irritated her and she had been ready to move on for a while. She simply hadn’t had the courage to take the first step herself. Her redundancy was actually just what she wanted! Despite her results, her attitude had made her “clutter” within the sales team of this company.

Deidre Bounds, a self made millionaire and author of the brilliant book “Fulfilled”, puts it this way….”I learned pretty quickly that if a staff member wasn’t working out it was best to act on this early and not procrastinate for fear of morale issues and people thinking that I was too harsh. Once I took the decision to let a person go, without fail, everything was better for everyone”.

We are going through a time of record redundancies. If you are the employee,then it is time to be honest about how you feel towards your job. Decide to commit to it 100% or get clear on what you really want to do. If you are the employer, remember the number of employees you have is not the barometer of how successful you are. Profit is the barometer and you can not afford to clutter up your business just because you want to be seen as Mr Nice Guy. Remember that if someone is not pulling their weight, it is because they are not 100% committed and would rather be doing something else , even if they don’t yet realize this themselves. Let them go, remembering of course to follow all the correct and fair procedures.

But what if your personal life feels a little cluttered with the “wrong” people? How do you effectively “fire” these people from your life? And of course, the other half of that question is “how do you do it and still be seen as a nice person?” The first step is to identify who in your life may have become clutter. Just as when we buy a new item for our home, such as a vase, we love to see it everyday. Then after a while it starts to look a little tired but we still love it. However we may reach a point where don’t like the vase any longer. Maybe we d love to replace the vase for a new one but we think we cant afford a new vase. Now every time we look at the vase it reminds us that we don’t have enough money to buy the vase that we really want. The vase is now having a depressing effect on us and needs to be cleared.

A wise person once helped me when I was confused about whether I wanted a certain person to be in my life or not. They simply asked me how I felt when I came into contact with that person. Did I feel uplifted and pleased to be alive? Did I feel full of love and compassion? Or did a dark cloud seem to come over my day? Did I feel heavier and less energetic about life in general? Now naturally it takes “two to tango” as the saying goes, but you can only be responsible for you and your feelings. If somebody doesn’t lift your spirits, the first step is to acknowledge this. Life is not about “putting on a brave face” or “putting up with other people”. It’s about feeling full of joy and love and happiness and clearing out anybody who dampens that possibility for you.

How committed are you to being with this person, whether it is a partner, colleague or close friend? Be honest with yourself. When I looked at my last relationship with this amount of honesty, I realized that I had never been 100% committed to the relationship. This might have explained why we had been on/off for nearly 8 years! It was a relatively easy option. It saved me from the full desperation of being single. It was a “fall back” for when I was feeling lonely. And staying in it was not only unkind to my partner but it was also keeping me from attracting a new man that I did want to be in a relationship with! I cleared up my clutter by being honest. I shared with my partner that I had not been and was not 100% committed to our relationship and in doing so, I let him go. By being honest there is less likelihood of hurt or resentment, and I am delighted to say that in this case he went on to become engaged within two months of us finishing and I attracted somebody new into my life.

Sometimes friends just drift away for a few years, only to reappear and continue in the same natural flow of friendship. I love it when that happens and I believe that it is also quite natural and not to be resisted. Life is about ebbs and flows and we attract different friends along the way who reflect where we are in our lives and in our state of being. To attract new friends sometimes we have to create space by seeing less of other friends. The trick is to stay honest with yourself and what makes you happy. Become comfortable with saying “no” and don’t take things too personally.

I love the French s expression “au revoir”. With friends and lovers and bosses, who knows when we will bump into them again , on this earth or the next? If we can let them go with an “au revoir” in our heads, we get in touch with the transitory nature of everything and remind ourselves that we are all connected in love anyway. Clearing the clutter of people is really more about CHOOSING who we wish to have in our company right now and being OK with that choice. It is about being honest with ourselves and with others. It is about Loving rather than Manipulating and about Compassion rather than Power. Surround yourself with people who love you and love the people who surround you, and you will stay free of any clutter.

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