the paradox of letting go

Jason Lauritsen did a post on the idea of letting go that really resonated for me. I strongly recommend dropping by his blog and reading it. He did a great bringing to the forefront some ideas and issues that have been kicking around in my own mind for quite a while. This post is a result of the ideas Jason sparked.

I can’t control everything. I know this. I mean, I know this in an intellectual sort of way. I have a much more difficult time knowing it on an emotional level. I “know”, but I don’t always “do”. I can explain, but I don’t always act accordingly.

Four decades and a couple of years of life lessons have taught me that the more I try to control, the smaller I must play. Playing bigger means going out beyond my comfort zones into the fields of the unproven, unknown, and uncertain. Scary stuff out there. To stay out there very long I’d have to accept a lack of control – to feel out of control – and trust beyond myself. To stay inside the mental fences I’ve staked out and patrolled and have complete control over is very, very comfortable. Yet, I can never play bigger. And playing bigger is really, really important to me.

I read a quote the other day. I can’t remember who said it, but the gist was: If you know how to accomplish your dreams, you’re not dreaming big enough. That’s it! Control reins my dreams in because it forces them to be small enough to understand and plan out.

Playing bigger, bigger, bigger requires letting go. It means accepting and allowing the freakingscary sized dream and committing to it and taking it on anyway. No detailed planning. Not even a full understanding of what the dream can grow to be yet. Only a direction.

*          *          *

The lesson I keep coming back to and re-learning has been said by many people in many ways. It is simply to focus on purpose rather than outcome. Outcome is about control. It’s holding on tight. It’s about insisting on results that I may not have total control over. It is actually debilitating, because it limits me to what I think I’m capable of rather than opening me up to the potential I’m truly capable of.

Think of it this way. It would be focusing on results if I were to enter a marathon with the goal of winning. And it would be ridiculous and frustrating. But I’ve got to have goals, you say? There’s no way I can control or even influence the drive, genetics, training, and experience of other runners. But I can choose to focus on purpose. I can choose to focus on being the best runner I can be; being prepared, rested, having fun, and pushing beyond my previous times.

No matter how much it looks like it, the race is never against others. Only with myself. I can never be the world’s best writer, speaker, facilitator, husband, dad, etc. But I can be the best writer, speaker, facilitator, husband, dad, etc I can possibly be today. I can pour my heart into everything, not knowing where it is going but seeing where it takes me.

Everyday.

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2 comments

  1. Cracking post Broc. Our entire working lives have been built around controlling the outcome and it is a flawed strategy – we seek comfort in control but its a fallacy. Im not one for sporting analogies as I think they are often overdone in business but this Ted talk from Dr Chris Shambrook absolutely nails the problems with our approach to performance in organisations. Check it out:

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    1. Gareth, glad you enjoyed the post and thanks so much for sharing this video. I hadn’t seen it before and really enjoyed it. Lots of good stuff. Interesting that we get so focused on output that we forget to build up the capacity of our input.

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