Jason Lauritsen - Crushing talent dogma to free human potential

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Letting Go

I’m struggling to learn a profound lesson in my work that clarity and control sometimes can’t be gained until you first let go.  My mentors and others keep pointing me towards this lesson, so I know it’s one of great significance.  But, this isn’t an easy one for me.  I’m a pretty ambitious, driven guy and I’m almost always chasing a long term goal.  Letting go just isn’t in my DNA.

But, I’m working on it.  It turns out that success, particularly when your work involves creativity, is more like swinging a golf club than a sledge hammer.  While a sledge hammer does more damage the more force you use to swing it.  A golf club operates differently.  Swinging a golf club effectively is about first learning the art of a correct golf swing in terms of mechanics.  But, once you know the mechanics, hitting a golf ball effectively isn’t about swinging the club hard.  It’s about swinging the club fluidly and freely.  Golf, in many ways, is about letting go.  It’s about trusting the club and your preparation, then letting the club do the work.  The harder you swing, the poorer the results.  This is why the game is both brilliant and maddening at the same time.

It turns out that our work  and our career follows this trajectory as well.  We need the right tools and we need to prepare ourselves with a knowledge and mastery of the mechanics of our trade, but then it’s time to let go.  I’m trying to learn to trust the flow and fluidity of my work.  It seems that when I can quiet the craziness a bit and let things flow, that opportunity is easier to recognize.  When I stop trying SO hard, that opportunity actually seems more likely to find me.  It’s a bit maddening. But, I’m starting to get it.

Typically, I’d present you a list of ways that you could apply this lesson to your own work.  But, I’m not sure I have this mastered to the point of teaching it.  Today, I offer up this post more as a reflection of my journey, perhaps to inspire you to learn with me.  Or better yet, perhaps you can teach me through your own experience.  One thing I know for sure, letting go is having some profoundly important impacts in my life.  Knowing what to let go of and when is where the complexity lives, so I continue to experiment and learn.

How has letting go impacted your work and career?

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  1. david k waltz

    Jason,

    One tool that can be used is visualization – either imagining in some way the item-to-be-let-go evaporating away from you, or physically handing off the item-to-be-let-go to someone else or a “higher power”.

  2. Deb F

    Interesting topic. Letting go can be tremendously difficult both personally and professionally. As a high performer in HR, I struggle re-inventing myself to add continual progressive value to the organization. (I’ve always been committed to the idea that if I have an increase in pay, the contribution to the organization must increase in proportion)

    In order to move the organization forward, it requires letting go. Letting go of the emotional attachment of the programs, processes, and people developed over the years.

    Letting go can be like removing bricks from your shoulders… I know if I let go of HR as I know it, continue to focus on the bigger picture I will feel more control, not less. It will allow me to focus on growing the business, retaining valued clients, and see things from a higher view. Many years were spent worrying about consistency of policies, sometimes missing great opportunities to be human.

    I also learned a great life lesson about letting go personally… after many children lost, we grieved for years wanting a family. We cursed the Heavens and pitied ourselves. Then, we just “let go”, we quit trying to control our destiny and put it in His hands. Once we ‘let go’, our son came to us. All those years wasted grieving when we could have just trusted in the plan (Big picture) for us.

    Sometimes we sweat the small stuff, forgetting that letting go allows us to release our creative minds to solve problems in a way that can inject energy and spark momentum in the business.

  3. Jason

    Deb – What a great reply. Your comments are more poignant than my post. I’ve had similar experiences in my personal life. I’ve found that forgiving others even when they’ve done terrible things to you is a way of letting go as well that frees up new space in your heart for other relationships. Letting go seems to have a lot of power in a lot of places. Ironically, I’m better at letting go personally than I am professionally. 🙂 Trying to rectify that.

  4. Deb F

    Isn’t giving the kid the car keys the ultimate ‘letting go’? 🙂

    Perhaps in business, there is additional pressure to perform and we are less willing to ‘let go’ due to a perception that there is more at stake in terms of risk. Providing for a family can bring out the “Mama Bear” in all of us.

    Over the years, I’ve found the more I’ve let go, the more I’ve grown in confidence and value to the organization. A mentor once told me that my job was to work myself out of a job. Can you believe the end state goal is to “let go” of my job?! Yes!!! How freeing is THAT? It IS actually! – re-inventing your position.
    Letting go of closely held beliefs of the way things should be is healthy.

  5. Jon Mertz

    Jason,

    An insightful conversation here… This is such a tough thing to do. It can be letting go of activities that don’t matter that much. It also can be letting go of comments or thoughts that don’t really matter. I think more than any tool, it is a mindset to embrace. It is one of carving out your day to ensure the important things can done, and it is letting the frivolous roll off.

    I believe there is something to mindfulness and embracing these practices of a way to let go. I am still exploring this, so we will see…

    Thanks!

    Jon

  6. Jason

    Jon–Thanks for adding to the conversation. It is funny that this conversation has so quickly expanded beyond my initial conception when I sat down to write this post. Turns out that letting go has power in a lot of different contexts and means something different to different people. For me, it’s about letting the current guide my career for a bit. I’ve spent so many years swimming upstream and leaning on the rudder to guide the pathat this is a foreign feeling to me. It doesn’t necessarily mean working less or less hard, it is about how I use my energy and time. Life is a journey full of lessons. This is an important one that I’m trying to learn with everyone else.

  7. Jason Lauritsen » Taking the Long View

    […] week, I wrote about letting go and the challenges inherent in that for me.  I got a number of really great responses to that post […]

Jason Lauritsen