Red socks and tattoos

By on September 28, 2012
This past month I came across two very powerful metaphors – red socks and tattoos – that are trans- forming my choices in life and work.

First, the socks – Red socks (or any other red item) in your laundry can stain everything pink. It doesn’t matter if you have a dozen offending items or just one, the outcome is the same – pink laundry.  Translating this idea to life and work, there are certain people, situations, and activities which have the ability to “stain” my whole day (or week or life), no matter how small the amount.

As I have contemplated the red socks in my life I have realized that there are certain friends and family members with whom any amount of time I spend leaves me feeling agitated. Depending on the interaction, I might leave my encounter feeling unsettled or downright upset for a few hours to a few days.

There are also certain activities that can drain my whole day, no matter how little time I spend on them. (Bookkeeping, computer maintenance and arguing with my husband fall into this category!)
Who are those people in your life that can ruin your whole weekend in a two minute phone call? What are those tasks that you spend hours dreading – even if they only take a short time to do? Doing their own taxes falls in this category for most people.

They stress for months about this when, for a few hundred dollars, an accountant take it off their hands (and do a better job at it as well).  

Now the tattoos. Tattoos are pretty much irreversible, so it’s a good idea to think pretty hard before you get one. Some decisions in life are like this. Having or adopting a child and donating a kidney come to mind, but not much else.

The majority of choices we make in life are temporary. A central tenet of Buddhism is the recognition of the transitory nature of the human experience. Nothing lasts forever. Yet to look at the amount of anxiety people cause themselves over the choices they are making in their life you would think that every decision is a tattoo – or a baby. Whether it is asking someone out for a date, applying to do a Masters degree, deciding to go back to your home country, starting a blog or changing the copy on your website, none of these choices is permanent. You can always change your mind – and with relatively little consequence in the grand scheme of things.   

Playing with this idea the last month, I have given myself permission to be bolder, to make more mistakes, and to take more risks with the understanding that I can always change my mind later. The result? I have gotten more done in less time and had more fun doing it than I have in ages. My creativity has blossomed and new ideas are pouring in at breakneck speed.

Even better, I have discovered that these two ideas work together incredibly well. Eliminating those people, situations and activities that drain me has left me with more time, energy and enthusiasm to go for it and take risks in areas that really matter.

To experience the benefits of red socks and tattoos in your own life this month I encourage you to contemplate the following two simple questions. 1) Who or what is draining my energy that I need to eliminate completely? 2) Where do I need to stop worrying so much about the consequences and just jump in, try it out, or take a risk?

I’d love to hear your stories, so please feel free to e-mail me via our website at or take a few minutes to fill out our free online assessment and earn a complimentary coaching session to help you get even clearer on the areas that will help you re-energize your life and work. (Include standard byline as usual.)

Andrea Jacques, founder of Kyosei Consulting International, has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of individuals and organizations worldwide. Five of these years were spent in Japan where the core philosophies of her work on the relationship between passion, performance and profits took shape.  A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates leading eastern and western thought with top-tier leadership, engagement, wellness and sustainability consulting to build the capacity of people and business to thrive. Her clients represent a diverse cross-section of industries including banking, retail, government, insurance, academia and high-tech. She can be contacted through her website at

About Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (available on She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide, five of which were in Japan. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates spiritual insight with top-tier leadership, wellness and sustainability consulting to help individuals and organizations build thriving, purpose-driven cultures where employees know their work truly matters. She can be contacted through her website at