070 – Peeling Back the Layers

by | Dec 14, 2017 | Podcast

What does it mean to grow? Is growth a process of addition or subtraction? How do we uncover our true identities as individuals?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share something important I learned while I was on vacation in Japan.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – One layer peeled away
  • 00:34 – The realization I had about a Japanese expression
  • 01:01 – Different ways of viewing growth
  • 01:19 – The process of growth often involves letting go of the past
  • 01:37 – Growth is moving closer to your identity
  • 01:53 – Questions about identity
  • 02:23 – We add layers to protect ourselves
  • 03:06 – Getting to where you want to go may require removing layers
  • 03:20 – Fear of identity
  • 03:33 – You can’t peel back the layers unless you reflect
  • 03:51 – Do you dare to peel back your layers?


“Hito kawa muketa” is a phrase that means “one layer peeled away” in Japanese. This is often said in reference to someone who’s changed and grown over time. So, if you saw that someone you knew went through a transformational process and you could see that they had grown through the experience, you would say to them that they had hito kawa muketa.

This phrase came up in a conversation on Facebook with a friend of mine while I was in Japan earlier in November. I mentioned to her that I was enjoying my experience in Japan more so than I did in 2003 because I had grown as a person.

But in that moment, it occurred to me that hito kawa muketa is such an interesting expression because it’s not necessarily the way we think about growth in North America. And that’s what inspired this podcast episode.

I think we see growth as addition and expansion most of the time. We see ourselves doing more, being more, and getting more through the process of growth. But the Japanese phrase suggests that growth is in fact subtraction. We peel away a layer as we develop into the individuals we’re becoming.

It’s not that either perspective is right or wrong, but when you think about it, the process of growth often involves letting go of past failures, past fears, baggage, and hang ups. As we let go of those things, we’re better able to focus on the present, and by extension, our future. We can set goals and move towards them.

The process of growth often involves letting go of past failures, fears, baggage, and hang ups. Share on X

I have a friend who I think would readily agree with this notion of peeling back the layers. He believes that growth is moving closer to your identity, who you truly are. You were born with your identity and yet somehow, you’ve gotten away from it.

This begs a few important questions, such as: “Why do we move so far away from our identity to begin with?”, “What causes us to add layers that later need to be peeled back?”, “Why are we afraid to be ourselves?”, and “Why can’t we always be the purest version of ourselves out in the world?

I don’t necessarily have the answers to these questions, but I do believe they are worth asking. As you examine yourself, you may come to some important realizations about the things that are holding you back as an individual right this moment.

What I believe is that we add layers to protect ourselves. Painful life experiences cause us to make changes. Sometimes these changes are beneficial, but sometimes they are detrimental to us as well. The layers that we add aren’t our identity. They are merely coping mechanisms to help us not make the same mistakes again.

Certainly, I believe we should learn from our mistakes. There’s tremendous value in that. But if someone you love hurts you, and because of that experience you mistrusted everyone on the planet, you would be hurting yourself. But these are the types of sweeping conclusions that we often come to because of things that have failed in the past, so the added layer wouldn’t be a reflection of your identity – just a tool for coping with life.

To get to where you want to go in your career or business, you will likely need to examine and peel away the layers between you and who you truly are. As you do, you move closer to your identity, which is more beautiful than you know. I believe we’re often scared of our identity because to us it looks like a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Few people like to reveal their weaker side. Yet, if those qualities aren’t all taken together, you wouldn’t be fully you, and I wouldn’t be fully me.

I believe peeling back the layer is difficult if not impossible unless you take time to reflect. Just as I took some time away for myself and went to Japan, stopping and taking a break from your life is a good way to gain clarity on the situation and discover the steps you need to take to move forward.

Stopping and taking a break from your life is a good way to gain clarity on the situation and uncover your next steps. Share on X

Even though it’s been painful at times, I believe I’ve been rewarded for peeling back the layers and have been finding my path forward in my ventures. I have more clarity than I’ve ever had before. So, will you dare to peel back the layers?

Upgrade to Members Only Audios for more exciting, exclusive training.