This month we explore why "letting go" may be the
best way to keep moving forward.
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President, Jim Schaffer & Associates
Are You Ready to Surrender?
It's no dirty, dark secret that there is a lot of
pain out there in the corporate corridors of this great
nation of ours. In my travels these past months, I
a theme arising which is beginning to sound as familiar
to me as the chorus of "Satisfaction":
Most of us,
in companies that purport to be doing well right now,
have more and more days when we'd like to lay down
our laptops and simply "give up".
My advice: DO IT! No, I'm not suggesting you
lock yourself in your office with the collected works of
Marcel Proust. The surrender I'm speaking about has to
do with letting go of trying to get a grip on all that is
spinning around you and paying more attention to the
quality of the present moment. You're not going to
control this wave anyway; you're only going to ride it.
(You didn't control the last one, either, it just felt like
Pema Chodron, Buddhist nun and author of
When Things Fall
Apart, counsels us to: ". . train in
letting the story lines go. Slow down enough to just be
present, let go of the multitudes of judgments and
schemes, and stop struggling."
We spend so much energy wishing things were
different, that they looked more like 1999, or that we
had less work to do, or that the stress were less
constant (and I sometimes wish my hair were still
brown and that I really did turn out to be Fred Astaire
instead of Jim Schaffer). But that's not "things as they
are." The result of all this clinging to our idealized vision
is we try to mold the chaotic swirl of events in front of
us to fit the fantasy and, more often than not, we feel
But if we can surrender to life as it unfolds, we
be cheating ourselves of the very rich experience that
is available to us right now. In business, that might
mean the difference between spotting an opportunity or
missing it completely as you try to blast your way
through to the end zone.
With so much demanded of us, so much
pressure for delivery of results, how can we let go for
even a second? Here are three principles that require
practice, but which will help you cultivate a shorter
path to the success you are seeking and leave you
feeling vitamin-enriched rather than deep-fried.
- Give Up Your Goals. I know our
paychecks, reviews, even our
ability to keep our jobs are based on what we achieve.
And I think goals are worth having. But these are not
linear times. You won't even see the openings that will
allow you to get to your goals unless you can loosen
your grip on them and try to experience more fully what
is going on moment by moment.
- Let Go of Your Judgments. I know you get
because you're the one who can dive in and size things
up quickly. But try not to be too attached to those
judgments - they may be killing you. The truth is, you
don't really know what's going on a fair amount of the
time. It is more effective to stay open for longer than
your instincts tell you to, to adopt a spirit of inquiry, to
say "What is this; what is it's nature?" than to let your
ego spring into action.
- Work for Mastery, Not More. This is a
businessperson's most poignant paradox. As we are
called upon to deliver more and more with each passing
quarter, we must understand that real achievement
doesn't happen that way. It is only by showing up each
day, by practicing and honing our craft, and by doing all
of this in a spirit of service that we can rise to the next
plateau of accomplishment in a way that energizes
rather than destroys us.
By surrendering to "what is" and practicing
these principles, your work days will have the
excitement of a darkened theater as the curtain opens
and the stage lights come up. There may be things
need to accomplish, judgment calls you ultimately have
to make, but in times of great change it is often better
to take a few moments, as Lennon & McCartney were
instructed so long ago, to simply "Let It Be."
Now - get back to work.
Click for more on Pema Chodron's book
||About Jim Schaffer & Associates
Jim Schaffer & Associates helps management teams &
salespeople stay focused, get results and keep high
morale — regardless of what may be going on around
Copyright 2003 by Jim Schaffer & Associates.