I can hear the two words “Let go!!” echoing from my childhood to my current moment. Someone wanted something I had, or at least as likely, someone had something that I wanted and we were in a struggle over it. Someone was shouting “Let go!!” at the other with all the passion they could muster in order to possess this amazing new thing, or to keep something that they cherished, or maybe most disturbingly just to change the balance sheet of that particular encounter.
The thought of writing on this topic sprang out of last week’s post on short words and a comment from Heather E. regarding that topic, and suggesting that it could be extended by discussing the power of these two words. For the second time in a week we agreed!! 🙂
As I reflected on these words it was amazing how many meanings came to mind for me. There seemed to be a progression in the application of the words from limiting, to freeing, to transforming. It kind of went like this for me.
Let go … I want it.
Let go … it belongs to me.
Let go … it’s not important.
Let go … it is time to move on.
Let go … it’s time to see what you can do.
Let go … it’s time to let talent and passion take over.
Just looking at that kind of made a bell go off in my head!
That bell is still clearly sounding for me as I reflect on this progression. How many times in life do we catch ourselves on the limiting side of this equation hanging on to something, or grasping for something, and when we think about it afterwards that our thoughts were motivated by scarcity, or scorecards, or relative performance?
Do we ever stop to think about how others react to our approach? Maybe not explicitly, but we certainly entertain this type of thinking when others take this approach and we are on the receiving end! How do we meet that type of behavior? With resistance perhaps? Now two parties’ energies are dedicated to making sure the other party doesn’t come out ahead. Drawing on Newtonian physics we understand that every action breeds an equal and opposite reaction … in this case resistance breeds more resistance and we grind to a struggling halt. Success becomes co-dependent, and it may turn out that our re-activity to each other thwarts whatever purpose either of us had.
As we begin to move into the middle of the bell, we soften our approach and our resistance by assessing the true importance of whatever we are hanging onto. We begin to compare the costs of hanging on to the benefits of letting go. We understand the energy that goes into resistance would be better spent on things that are meaningful to us instead of winning, claiming, possessing, hiding, controlling or whatever else we think we will get from not letting go.
By doing so we re-invigorate our creativity, our enthusiasm, our determination or whatever drives us in a way that is additive instead of diminishing. We contribute independently instead of co-dependently. The issue is often in our commitment or courage to let go of the known in order to pursue something new.
So what’s going on at the base of the bell? Or perhaps, letting the mathematician in me loose for a moment, at the outer edges of the bell curve?
I think this is the realm of great leadership. It is the arena of interdependence. Of collaboration. Of being interested in multiplying instead of adding. What happens when we let go of ownership and let someone else own a task, project or endeavor? We communicate trust, we develop people, we exploit the capacity of our team, we optimize skills, etc. All great things!
What happens when we totally relinquish control over the action, and in its stead just set the “why” of what we are doing? What happens when we become simply a participant in the brainstorming, discovery, synthesis, creativity, lateral thinking of a group that we know as all of talented, trustworthy and passionate, letting the team’s evolutionary processes rule. What if our only contributions were purpose, encouragement and wisdom?
How would letting go serve us then?
OK Heather E. (and everyone else)! There’s a set up for you … how do you see the power of letting go!