Yesterday, my younger son climbed into a small plane with his girlfriend (and about 15 other people), flew up to 13,500 feet, and jumped out with a stranger on his back. Yesterday, I had a lovely day hanging out with Jim, and felt totally relaxed and at ease. What was a minor miracle for me, as a mother, was that I enjoyed my day despite knowing all the while that my precious son was parachuting out of an airplane. We are talking major personal growth here. Instead of trying to persuade him to try something less risky, such as taking a cooking class, I sent him positive text messages anticipating his adventure. My serenity was a reflection of the hard work I’ve done over the years in letting go.
Clients often struggle with letting go, too. This can come in many guises: The brilliant boss who micromanages every project. The high achiever who insists on attempting perfection in all she does. The loyal team member who cannot bring himself to transfer to a new department out of fear of disappointing others. The talented designer who defends every idea she has to the bitter end, sometimes at the cost of alienating her co-workers. Often what we hold onto is so tied into how we construct our identity that we cannot imagine letting it go. We fear we would feel incomplete if we loosen our grip on that which is such a part of us.
And yet, it is so freeing to be able to let go. Paradoxically, we become bigger and lighter when we let some things go. Trust expands. Learning grows. We realize that only by letting go of who we are can we step into who we might become. The boss can let go and trust his project manager. The high achiever can bring more humanity into her work and learn what is enough. The team member can tackle fresh challenges and forge new relationships. The designer can open herself up to the input of others, and learn that creativity can still thrive even when her ideas are not embraced.
Like each of you, my work is never complete on both the professional and personal fronts. I try to be aware of when I’m holding on to old habits, thinking, or perspectives. Life is always offering up lessons on letting go, and I try to be open to seeing those opportunities and learning from them. If I can support you in your own process of letting go, please ask. Enjoy the rest of your summer.
Sharon Keys Seal