There is an old saying – “The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.”
This saying can lock us into a commitment that keeps us from letting go. We are trained to think pigs are a model of success greater than the chicken due to this total dedication to execution. On the other hand the chicken might be the better role model for us. The Chicken lets go as a process, even when sacrificing precious offspring. The Pig let’s go only once. This teaches us death is not a good exit strategy.
Letting go is a state of mind. You need to execute your plans without being a slave to them. In every relationship there is a time to be committed and a time to let go. Relationships can be a strong belief in something or a business partnership, a single project or a life’s work, or the thing that defines you for better or worse. You can hold on tightly, or you can hold on loosely, but you have to be prepared to let go in the end. Sometimes letting go is for yourself, sometimes it’s for the greater good of all allowing growth and opportunity. Individuals respect those who lead by example. By letting go, you are training others by definition. Try starting something new today, but with this small change. Plan on letting go from the very start and see what choices you make differently.
Death is not an exit strategy as any pig will tell you. When you talk to business leaders, you often don’t hear about succession planning. It’s that thing off in a distant future. Something that comes after you build or create. In fact, it’s an unwanted distraction. This often builds a “debt” you can’t repay. Trapped in the doing and not planning for leaving you little options in the middle of execution. You know that old saying, “Execution, Execution, Execution, miss a step and all you have is Execution.” Executives have to let go to be the most effective, yet they often hold on tighter than all others. No great leader can manage every detail of a company yet very few leaders make it to this state of mind. There are many reasons for this. Many justifications. But in the end, if you hold on too tightly you don’t make the choices along the way that will free you in the end. If executives did this, everything would be perfectly in order should they die in a tragic accident. How many times have you heard the phrase, “If that person dies tomorrow we are in deep trouble”? While it’s true you can never be truly prepared for the exit strategy called death, you should be able to plan better for it. That takes letting go of beliefs that you are irreplaceable by your skills, indispensable by your knowledge, and generally unable to give up the power that holding on to position or knowledge gives you.
The best strategy is treat letting go as a new kind of power. One that allows for greater things to happen before you kill yourself or others trying to manifest your vision. This has to be a state of mind you take with you on every task or venture. By planning out your succession, replacement or transition you are making yourself a gateway to success, not a door to failure. Plan everything you do with an air of confidence that anyone could step into your place and do a fantastic job. Of course, the reality is some people are unique for a given job, vision, or role, but this should not stop anyone from trying to prepare a powerful successor.
Act on letting go every day and in every way. Think of yourself as a caretaker ready to leave your task to the next in a heartbeat. Build this rational into your daily activities so that each and every action is built with your replacement in mind. You may very well be irreplaceable today but you should be prepared to make the switch instantly and on a moments notice to another person. With this in mind your actions will take on new meaning. Each and every thing you do will have that added effort making room for another. Your documentation will be more complete, your attention to the casual details will be more acute. Your focus on what you do will be more clear in your mind so that you can at least walk your successor through the process you follow. Acting in this way, you are always prepared to let go.
In conclusion. I asked you to start a new project with the idea of letting go. Did you find that to be liberating? Did it add to much overhead? What steps or choices would you make differently if you knew that your life’s work will be lost if you die tomorrow? Death is not a successful exit strategy, live every day in letting go and learn true power.
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