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Letting Go

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Years ago when my son was in high school I learned how smart a trait it is to simply let go of things that are out of my control. You may wonder what I mean by that so I'll tell you a quick story about how that worked out.

My son needed a good school, a different school, to attend because his grammar school experiences were not helping him to be the person he could be. He had more than a few challenges in a "one-size fits all" public-school system. So we looked around at a school that was a better fit for his learning style during his high-school years. Our son, after participating in a summer program, decided to do the four years of high school at the Hyde School in Bath, Maine. The school represents more than just curriculum and getting students into good colleges. They actually insist that their students learn how to behave, confront their issues, to be honest even if it hurts, and to live by a certain value set (integrity, leadership, community service, just to name a few).

Well, this school was right up our alley because their value sets and our value sets were right in line and fit where we thought our son would thrive. Even our young teen-aged son thought he finally found a place where he can be himself and learn and grow into a smart and emotionally intelligent young man.

Today, after having graduated from college two years ago, he is thriving as a young man - not because he's so successful already, but because he has learned mostly to let go of things he cannot control, which was a big learning event not only for him, but for me as well.

The parents of the children who sent their children to Hyde were heavily involved in the learning process alongside their young adults at this school. We would have to join other parents (with our children) and have group sessions about our own behaviors that we needed to work on and show our children that we are willing to learn as much as they are. There were many things I learned while being actively involved in my son's values-based high school and my best learning event was to let go of my son, among other things. Here's what I learned about "letting go" during the four years that our son went to Hyde:

  • It's okay to try to keep our children safe, but not at the expense that they will be too sheltered and never learn from their own mistakes. We can give our children the chance to make their own decisions and, if they do not always work out, then hopefully they will learn from them with our encouragement.
  • We need to listen to our children's ideas and try to read between the lines and ask them to elaborate and allow them to speak freely.  This will create great lines of communication and we can then "coach" our children by asking them some open-ended questions to help them learn and grow through their challenges and by encouraging them to just let go of things out of their control and they should do very well.
  • Letting go of things we cannot control actually feels great...when I had my "aha" moment while participating in the group sessions, it overtook me and it made me feel free!! I let go of worrying about our son from then on and we both got along much better. Rather than worrying about if he's eating right, warm enough, getting good grades, and if he's brushing his teeth, I would ask, "Tell me about your typical day" and I'd quickly realize that he was fine and was fitting in wonderfully without me and his other family members. It was a wonderful feeling that to let go is to let my son thrive and be the young man he wants to be.

Since going through what we call the "Hyde" experience, I'm more aware of the things that I'm holding on to as a parent, business owner, coach, wife, and mother. There is no valuable learning lesson if we constantly control every outcome with our children, husbands, parents, or co-workers. The problem with that is that we are not giving anyone a chance to figure things out on their own.

From a business perspective, there are many things as leaders that we can "let go" of. Here are some that we've been able to help in more positive ways:

  • Some managers and leaders at all levels think they need to micro-manage and control everything that is going on because they think that is the right thing to do (and in certain instances that may be true).  Here’s how to let go: Coach and delegate the expectations of the company or organization to capable people who are willing learners and workers and communicate the mission and goals. Quickly, the employees will learn just how to make it happen. If you leave good employees to do their work, they will 90% of the time do a great job for the organization and profitability is sustained.
  • Some new managers do not yet trust everyone and may exert more control than necessary. Here's how to let go: Ask thoughtful and open-ended questions of your new staff, such as...what do they expect from you as their new manager, what do you expect of them, have one-on-ones and learn people's roles and areas of expertise. Encourage your employees to help you get used to their environment. Trust will be gained and the newness will wear off.
  • Some managers think or feel that they need to be perfect (no one can be that good, so why stress over it?). Here's how to let go: Let other people help and encourage them to succeed and at the same time use mistakes as great learning experiences that can lead toward more successes. Try letting go of something that someone else can handle so you can rest, relax, and have some fun. We do not always have to be the problem solvers because others will learn if they can participate in their own learning events and be allowed to become leaders themselves.

Think about some of the stuff that you may hold on to because of stress, worry, excitement and fear. You may want to ask yourself a few questions to determine how little or much you hold on to:

  • Am I telling too many people what to do and not letting them figure things out for themselves because I am trying to keep them safe, working, or doing what I want or think should be done?
  • What am I holding on to that I can let go of and will be most beneficial to the person who is at the brunt of my control.
  • What am I worrying or stressing so much about and how can I let go of it?

Thanks for reading about my experiences in letting go. If you would like some coaching about letting go, please feel free to email or call me...I'm happy to help!

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Lorraine Twombly
Priority Learning



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