We are remodeling my home office, and step #1 a few months ago was to clean out the monstrous metal filing cabinet. Much of it was training and educational materials I had been saving over the years. Handouts from graduate school, models I’d gotten from other consultants. Saving it all “in case I need it.” You know how it goes.

I was anticipating that it would be torturous to sort—deliberating over each item, scanning things, making notebooks. A few minutes in, I realized something transformative:

The good stuff is in me.

And it all went into the recycling bin.

I didn’t need to remember the interview questions I asked that leadership team a decade ago, or the notes I took in my Conflict Management class. What I had then I have now, which is my ability to pay attention and keep learning. There is no filing cabinet that can hold everything I’ve internalized and practiced over the years. I can trust those projects, classes, notes, and materials did their work on me, and I can trust I’ll be able to ask the right questions to find those things again if needed. (A little thing called “the internet” makes this much easier, thankfully!)

In the Information Age, this is just another reminder that our ability to stockpile knowledge isn’t the most important currency. It’s our ability to be curious, open, and keep practicing that sets us apart.

Spring is a natural time to take stock of how we might be hoarding or stockpiling. Maybe it’s happening in your inbox, garage, or closet. Maybe you have relationships that aren’t serving you anymore, job tasks that don’t make sense, or an entire career that doesn’t make sense. I sometimes joke with clients that my titles could be “Queen of Quitting” or “Enthusiastic Ender!” The definition of something good isn’t that it lasts or is kept forever. It’s more like, “Am I learning? Are my perspectives and opinions evolving? Am I behaving like a healthy cell, letting nutrients in and pathogens out?”

It takes energy to store things, energy we could be spending on adventure, movement, discovery, liberation.

The good stuff is in you—Happy Spring Cleaning!