I recently shared about a particularly challenging morning getting my son off to school, and the power of meditation and movement to recover from those stressful times (and build up the resilience to more effectively face them next time around).
Today, I have another strategy to bring more peace–as well as higher performance–into your life: Letting Go.
Picture a hot air balloon sitting in the middle of a field, getting ready to lift off into the sky. What does it take for that balloon to rise? There are two key elements:
1. Increase the heat (flame).
2. Let go of excess weight.
When both of these work together, the balloon will soar! And the same is true for you.
This is my 22nd year helping teams and organizations boost morale and performance through keynote speaking programs — whether it’s me speaking about cultivating resilience, or whether it’s one of my amazing colleagues speaking about sales, leadership, or other topics.
As I field calls from leaders seeking a speaker, one thing I’ve heard over and over again is, “We need someone to get our people fired up!”
There’s value in getting fired up, of course. It seems to be our “go to” response. When performance or morale is waning, though, it’s possible that “fire” isn’t what’s missing. It’s possible that the issue is excess weight.
I’m not talking about body weight, of course. I’m talking about the weight of lingering thoughts or limiting beliefs. The weight of having so much to do. The weight of unrealistic expectations.
When you’re carrying this extra weight, getting fired up can actually leave you feeling even more frustrated.
I’m motivated, I’m excited, but I just can’t seem to get off the ground…
This is your clue that it’s time to let go of something–or of some things–that are holding you down.
This was my realization on a different challenging morning getting my kiddo to school a few years ago (welcome to parenthood!). On my drive back home, while I wanted to relax and get into a positive state for work, there was just an underlying tension that I couldn’t shake.
I tried paying attention to my breath. I tried enjoying the beautiful blue sky. A 737 flew low over the road ahead of me–coming in for a landing at the nearby airport–and and as always, I felt a sense of wonder. (Yes, the 12-year-old inside me is still alive!) But I could still feel the tension underneath it all.
That’s when the phrase came to me: “let go.”
Ah yes, let go. What powerful words.
“What do I need to let go of?” I asked myself.
A couple of things came to mind rather quickly, and then I discovered a few more as I returned to this call to “let go” over the course of the day. Like the hot air balloon, setting this extra weight free allowed me to rise.
Here are 7 things I realized I needed to let go of–and I wonder if you may need to let go of some of these things, too:
1. The need to get it all done.
There was more to get done than I could possibly get done on this particular day, and I was feeling the weight of it. Clients to call. Contracts to review. Blog posts to promote. Books to ship. (And more.)
Then I asked myself: How much of that do you really have to do today? Will the world end if you don’t cross every single thing off your list? Of course not.
Take shipping the books, for example. I’m sending them out as gifts. The recipients aren’t even expecting them. So what happens if they end up shipping a day later?
Obviously certain things do have to be done today, but a lot of stuff doesn’t.
If you know you can’t get it all done–and you can’t–then just let go of that expectation.
Set your priorities, and then just enjoy doing what you can do, moment by moment.
2. The need to do everything–and make every decision–perfectly.
Here’s an example of just how silly we can be sometimes (or maybe it’s just me):
While I was at the post office, I started thinking about a buy-one-get-one food “reward” I had at Starbucks. I was going to go through the drive-thru on the way home, and I was trying to figure out what to do with that reward.
Do I get a breakfast sandwich for now and a pastry for later?
Do I get two pastries? (Pastries are my weakness.)
Decisions, decisions. Anxiety.
Then I came to my senses. “Are you serious? You’re spending time and energy thinking about this?“
Maybe this is an especially silly example, but how often do we get bogged down by decisions that carry exactly that much significance in the grand scheme?
In all things, we must let go of the need to be perfect–because there’s no such thing–but especially be on the lookout for these trivial moments that steal a disproportionate amount of our attention and energy.
3. The opinions others have of you.
I can’t remember where I heard it, but someone once said, “What you think of me is none of my business.” I love that!
I would like to think that I have a pretty good understanding of whose opinion matters to me and whose doesn’t. But still, when a newsletter subscriber emails and with a critical comment, a part of me wants to call them up and invite them to “take it outside.”
Or then there are others that we wish thought highly of us, but then when they don’t respond as we had hoped, it hurts.
The truth of the matter, though, is that what they think of you is none of your business. Let it go!
4. The plan you had for today.
When is the last time you had a day go exactly as you had planned?
Nearly a year into the pandemic, that’s not really a question we need to ask. I remember a time pre-pandemic when I had gone to work at a coffee shop that’s a fair distance from my house–but I love this coffee shop!–and I was excited for the day ahead.
I ordered my coffee, began to set up at a high-top table, and then… oh no! I forgot my laptop power cable.
I was planning for an extended work session that day, and if I was lucky, I would get three hours out of my laptop battery.
Then, a dear friend I had planned to have lunch with texted me to say he had gotten out of his appointment early. We ended up having almost two-and-a-half hours together. We both needed that, and I couldn’t have scripted it any better.
Plans are good… but once you make them, you have to turn them over to the universe and be open to the day unfolding however it chooses. It just might surprise–and delight–you!
5. The need to know what’s next.
You’re still here today, which means yesterday must have turned out okay. Whatever you were fretting about at the beginning of the day, it apparently didn’t destroy you yet. And the same goes for the day before. And the day before that. All the way back to birth.
That doesn’t mean everything has turned out perfectly, but it does mean that one way or another, things have unfolded in a way that brought you here.
I’m not discounting that there may have been some really big bumps in the road; some really painful experiences. But you’re here.
There’s no way we can know what comes next, so the only real option is to let go of the need to know.
6. The person you used to be.
I was the shyest kid in high school–and in elementary school, for that matter.
I was a C-student in my college speech class.
Now, I get paid to get up in front of hundreds or thousands of people as a keynote speaker. Obviously I’ve come out of my shell just a bit.
Still, there are times when I put that “shyest kid” label on myself and I retreat back into my shell. It’s comfortable there, but it’s not who I am today. It’s who I used to be.
I’ve grown. I’ve moved on. The same is true for you. Allow yourself to be who you really are!
7. The need to do something a certain way because that’s the way they say to do it.
(For example, make lists end with numbers like 3, 5, or 7.)
Okay, I’m kind of cheating on this one. I really only came up with six things to let go of, but seven sounds better. That’s what they say to do with “list” posts.
I kept looking for that seventh thing. What else should I let go of?
I know there are lots of things, but then I realized, there’s one right in front of me! It’s okay to stop with a list of six if you only have six items.
But now I have seven and all is well. 😅
Seriously, though, do what you know is right; not what others say is right.
And there you have it: seven things to let go of today.
Do we share any items on the list? What do you need to let go of? Leave a comment and let me know!