I listen to my client as I watch her mentally let go of the belief that she needs to do it all. It’s liberating for her. In that moment she lets the ideas come and go, observing them with curiosity – she is in the zone. She leaves, lighter, focused and ready to accept herself.
Are you able to let go?
Leaders are often graced with determination, motivation, resilience, creativity and a need to achieve their goals. It makes them successful. They can also be unwilling to relinquish control, worry lots or get stressed out with the many plates required to be spinning at any one time. I fall into the control freak section…being unable to control what happens next was a source of stress in my life for many years. In the last 5 years though I have found ways to accept what I cannot change and it has allowed me to grow.
Whether it is accepting that one cannot do it all or understanding that all the ideas you have may not come to fruition, or if they do, they might be rubbish…sometimes we have to let go of what we cannot control/change. By learning to accept that we may not achieve some of our goals and dreams has the potential to bring us greater freedom. Acceptance frees up our mental and emotional capacity, allowing us to refocus our time and energy on dreams and goals that are still achievable.
I am not saying we shouldn’t have dreams; we definitely should. But we need to do so in the spirit of understanding that we may never achieve them. The hard truth is that much of what happens in life is outside of our control, and all we can do is do the best we can with the information we have.
With that in mind, I want to talk to you about 7 situations where it will help you grow if you can let go:
The comparison trap
We all do it. We compare ourselves to others and we then measure how we fail against them. Right? I know it’s easier said that done but comparing yourself to others won’t make you feel better and it won’t help your business grow. It might motivate you in the short term (great if that’s what you need) but in the long term it often turns into resentment.
Try this: Remember that each one of us is on a different journey and there is room for everyone to succeed. Ask yourself if imitating someone else is going to help you achieve your business goals. If the answer is no [spoiler alert!] then focus on your progress. A good way to do this is to look back on the successes you have already had. That way, you can see how far you have come.
Identify what you are afraid of
Do you catastrophise? i.e. are you always you predicting a catastrophic outcome? Maybe you doubt your ability to cope with an undesirable outcome? Perhaps you are scared you’re going to be so successful you won’t be able to keep up with demand? Usually, the worst-case scenario isn’t as horrible as you might imagine.
Try this: If you catch yourself thinking, “This is going to be a disaster,” instead ask, “What would I do if the worst-case scenario came true?”
Yeah, maybe you’d struggle for a while, but there’s a good chance you’re more resilient than you think. In my life experience thus far I have seen so many people cope far better than they would have imagined. Acknowledging that you can handle the worst-case scenario can help you put your energy into more productive places.
Come to terms with your limitations
We all have both strengths and things we could improve upon. But if we’re not good at something, should we always be working to improve ourselves? I ask my clients…what’s more important to you – being happy and fulfilled or being The Best at Everything, Ever? Every time (so far) they have gone with being happy and fulfilled.
Try this: If you are trying to become better at something and it’s not working (for whatever reason) consider your alternatives. Would you feel happy to let it go? To outsource the task/project to someone else? Perhaps you need to get some support (e.g. a coach) to help you reach your goal. If in doubt, ask yourself the question above and if you answer that you want to be happy…then you can ask yourself if pushing yourself to improve is making you happy?
Determine what you can control
With my clients, I like to do a locus of control exercise where we consider whether they believe they can influence events and their outcomes. It is always fascinating and insightful. In short, how do you feel when things go wrong–is it always your fault or is it outside forces working against you? And when things go right, do you give yourself credit or do you just feel lucky? If you feel outside forces are responsible for your fate, good or bad, you have an external locus of control. If you blame and credit yourself, you have an internal one. Why is this important? It helps us find a balance between control and acceptance.
Try this: When it comes to your motivation and productivity, harness the power of an internal locus of control. Take action, if you can (and if you can’t acknowledge it). Even tiny actions can make a big difference to your financial and business goals.
Consider your effect on others
Whilst we may not be able to control everything/one around us; we can have an influence. So for example…whilst I may not be able to make the decision for my clients, I can give them the best tools and information so that they can make the best (informed) decision for themselves. That is my influence in the world around me…helping people think for themselves. It is not my job to fix them or offer unsolicited advice.
Try this: To influence others you need to behave in a manner that, in my opinion, builds trust and connection with you. The best way I have found to do this is to listen to others. Let them tell you what’s going on for them and see it from their perspective. It can be a real eye-opener.
Focus on what matters to you
Do you remember why you wanted to set your goal in the first instance? What drove you? As you reflect it will throw up some of your values. Then you can start focusing on what matters to you. Setting your sights on worthy goals will make them easier to attain and much more satisfying when you achieve them.
Try this: Look at your goals, particularly the ones that seem unattainable or difficult right now. Ask yourself, what would really motivate me today to achieve this goal? Then I would ask you…what is the one step you can take right now to get you one step closer. If you find that you aren’t motivated to achieve the goal then perhaps it’s time to let it go and focus your energies elsewhere.
Move on from mistakes
I know, forgiving yourself is easier said than done. However, self-forgiveness is one of the building blocks for self-acceptance. A healthy dose of self-forgiveness and self-acceptance is really good for business because it stops procrastination (i.e. spiralling about the mistake), increases creativity as you problem-solve and also boosts motivation…since you are being kind and supportive to yourself rather than critical.
“My ability to keep going, keep asking for help, and continue to take emotional risks stems from my capacity to grieve my losses and forgive myself. When I got rejected by prospective investors for instance, shame would pop up and stop my progress…until I allowed myself to grieve the loss.” – Shawne Duperon
Try this: Reflect on what is weighing you down. Then, take a piece of paper or your journal (or anything else you fancy) and write down the following: “I, (insert name here), choose to actively participate in my own freedom. I choose to forgive myself for (insert all mistakes here).”
It seems a bit woo right? You will probably notice some resistance. That’s OK too. We often hold onto the feelings of (emotional) pain because we are comfortable with them and we feel safe. If you let go of that pain then you free yourself and your emotions to focus on something else. (Anyone else seeing a theme here?!)
Finally…It’s important to remember that everyone is doing the best they can in life, including you. There are no instruction manuals when it comes to growing yourself and your career. You have to create your own; that’s what makes you successful.