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The Blog

Leadership & The Importance of Letting Go

 
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“Surrender” is a big value of mine.  Like, BIG.  HUGE. It’s something that I hold dear because I know, even when my brain wants to disagree, that surrender is the ultimate key to success.  Which may sound bizarre, I know. 

Surrender is one of those concepts that is so misunderstood.  It’s often equated with giving up, or abandoning.  But that’s not it at all.  Instead, surrender is about understanding that as a human being you actually can’t do all that you want to do.  You cannot have all that you want to have.   

At least not on your own. 

Historically, different people and groups have tried to point us in the direction of this truth by sharing religious beliefs, establishing rituals that are anchored in faith and trust.  But the surrender I’m talking about goes way beyond simple ritual and religion.  In its purest form, surrender is about understanding (and I’m paraphrasing Oprah here) that once you’ve done all that you’re capable of, once you’ve created a plan, worked a plan, implemented a plan and given it your all, there is still more to give.  And that more is given from outside of you.  So, you’ve got to let it go.   

That’s right.  Let. It. Go. 

You might be wondering what the heck this has to do with your life and leadership. Hear me out. Because as human beings, particularly in the realm of leadership, the art of letting go is one that seems so hard to master. In fact leadership is often equated with taking control -- which is the opposite of letting go. Moreover, such control rarely leads to long-lasting, effective results. Effective leaders don’t control; instead they learn to let go.  

Let go of expectations

Let go of judgments.

Let go of habits that don’t serve.

Let go of antiquated processes.

Let go of “the way we’ve always done things.”

Let go of having to do it all. 

The problem is that while it’s easy to talk about letting go, and surrender in and of itself seems like an easy concept, in the context of leadership, surrendering seems to fly in the face of taking responsibility. I mean, if you’re charged with being at the helm of a team or a project, then don’t you have to be in control of things, keep your eye on all things, and keep at it – whatever ‘it’ is – until your objective is achieved?  Well, yes; and no.    

Your job is absolutely, as aforesaid, to do all that you can.  And then, after you’ve done all that, you’ve got to let go of your attachment to your goal, your vision that you’re holding, understand that what you see or want to see is only part of the big picture and surrender the process over to the powers that be.  There is a force outside of you that is activated once you do your part; your job is to do your part and then allow that force to do its part.  How do you do this?  Here are a few steps: 

  • Be clear on what you’re wanting. Visualize, imagine what it is you’re heading for.

  • Take action, as much as you can. Be deliberate and focused.

  • Allow for inspiration; don’t bury your head in the sand or be so blinded that you can’t see when a detour might be what’s needed.

  • Set your timeline; then allow things to unfold.  Dance with time, knowing that while you might think something has to happen right here, right now, this way, there may be a bigger stage being set, for something even better.

  • Remember that you can only see part of the picture and remind yourself that what you see isn’t all that there is.

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Bottom-line:  when it comes to effective leadership, success isn’t a function of how much control you hold. Instead, it’s about how well you are able to let go. Learn to do all you can with what you have, and then let things go. From this “letting go” space, stand in curiousity. And then, revel in the success that is bound to follow.