Peter Kowalke


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Can We Really Change Ourselves?

By on June 1, 2021

Right now I’m in the middle of a big shift. I’m becoming a new person.

I’m still me; you could meet me at age 5 or 65 and still know it is me. But on a subtle level, I’m deepening and reconfiguring myself all the time. Right now is one of those times.

That’s because I have a problem. I work too much, and I can’t serve my full purpose until my work grows beyond me. I need more help, I need more inputs, I need more time and a different lifestyle than what I’m living today. My current lifestyle has served me well for many years, but now it is holding me back.

So I need to change. Not just a little adjustment; I have to learn a fundamentally new way of being, one where I perform the work less and guide others more. Instead of handling things myself, I must move into the new role of hiring and nurturing teams, and charting overall vision without directly executing it myself.

This is a hard shift for me because I’m a maker more than a manager. I’m a people person to my core, but I lead by example and my skillset is interpersonal relationships instead of team management. So this adjustment requires changing some of my fundamental habits and beliefs.

Yes We Can Change Our Core

I’ve reached every goal I’ve ever attempted. True story.

Whether it was starting a national magazine at age 14 and having exceptionally deep relationships or working anywhere I want in the world and charting a uniquely American monastic lifestyle, I’ve always had goals and reached them in the end.

What I’ve learned from this experience is that reaching my goals often requires fundamental change (aside from planning, hard work and diligence, of course). Making fundamental change isn’t easy, especially when it comes to ingrained habits and ways of looking at the world. But it can be done with time and conscious effort, and I’ve proven it to myself repeatedly over the years. “This is the way I am” usually is just an excuse I tell myself when driven by fear or overwhelm. Rewiring is possible.

So making this big shift right now is scary and sometimes exhausting. I fail every day. A lot of things are new, uncertain and messy. Some of my supports are temporarily gone.

But it also is exciting. I’m overcoming my limitations and finally tackling some of the habits that have held me back for years. I’m in the middle of reaching another goal, and taking the next step in my life. I’m growing, not dying.

This isn’t a pep talk or a humble brag. Please understand that the journey isn’t easy or fast, and it certainty isn’t because I have some special power or skill. Anyone can do it (click here if you need help with that), and even then life won’t be perfect. But it is growth, which is life. And I’m excited to be alive.

The next phase has begun.

Peter is a relationship coach, writer/producer, and R&D monastic. He splits his time between San Francisco and Asia. Read more about Peter.