Letting Go

shutterstock_386267536Letting go.  It’s the hardest thing to do.  Whether it’s a person, a thing, an idea or a fear, it takes a lot of effort and often times tears are shed.

Here are a few of the things I can’t let go of:

  • an off-key note in the shower
  • the fact that some people think the world is flat
  • getting dumped for a golfer by a college girlfriend (and he sucked)
  • the Royals beating the Jays in 1985
  • the Royals beating the Jays in 2015
  • getting cutoff while riding my motorbike
  • a grudge
  • a presentation

So, you can imagine my dilemma when, a short while ago, I was forced to abdicate my appearance at a conference and allow someone else to deliver one of my presentations. I developed the slide deck, spent weeks working on the slides, creating what some might call a PowerPoint masterpiece…

Only to let it go.  I had to be out of town and there was no way to reschedule.

It was so difficult. Ridiculously difficult. I say that because there was no decent reason for me to feel that kind of separation anxiety. The person delivering in my place is fully capable and accomplished. I worked with her, coached her and remained in contact with her through the whole process.  (Yah, maybe I didn’t totally let go).

So why did I feel like someone had just kidnapped my child and made it to love her more than me?

It’s called ego.   Something that plagues many people who remain emotionally attached to their work and can’t. let. it. go.

I learned this a long time ago when I was writing plays and getting produced in Montreal. As a playwright, I needed to step away from the stage and allow the director and the actors make my words their own.   And I mean their own.  There was always a moment in a production where the cast knew the play better than I did.  They had transformed into something bigger than me. They owned it. They lived it.  And, for the sake of the play, I had to let them have it.  I no longer mattered.

(Possibly the reason I no longer work in theatre).

It’s the same in the business world. Leaders who are committed (as they should be) on developing staff, nurturing talent, and building a stronger, more vibrant workforce, need to let their team members go. Give them the tools they need to succeed and watch them soar.

Interestingly enough, the result of my letting go of the presentation made it better.  The presenter brought a new, fresh perspective to the piece that connected with the audience.

Here’s a little exercise.   All you need is a piece of paper.

Goal: craft the best paper airplane you can.

Spend a few minutes getting the folds right.   Make it as aerodynamical as possible.

Then hold it up above your head.

Now, I challenge you to not throw it. Not to let it fly.  Instead, just crumple it up.

You can’t do it, can you?

You have to let it go.