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Going to Higher Places Requires Letting Go

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I chose the Dupont National Forest, NC as the venue for my bi-annual personal retreat this year (practicing what I preach to my coaching clients!) And the Triple Falls Trail (pictured) did not disappoint! While these get-aways are in part purposed for me to set goals, vision cast and strategically plan the upcoming half-year, they have also become an intentional means for me to consider what, for me, needs

letting go.

I liken it to the mysteriously natural process of synaptic pruning in the brain which pares away unused connections between brain cells through childhood and adolescence. It is thought to happen because those connections that aren’t used much are lost, which makes the brain more efficient. These connections are pruned because they are inactive or redundant.

In order to preserve and acquire essential resources and to maximize effectiveness, efficiency and optimal functioning, the inactive or redundant ones

must be parted with.

This parting with something inactive or redundant or not useful is challenging for many people, myself included–even though I know logically it’s good, makes sense, is helpful.

But ah, the emotions! I have a high commitment to security and self-preservation. Those extra flashlights, boxes of JIFFY cornbread mix, favorite mascara stashed in multiple bags, desk, pencil holders (which I forget-lol) will all come in handy. And well, there is also emotional sentiment. I have both of my grandmothers’ sets of dishes, a magazine rack built by my uncle. My daughter’s tricycle. She’s 15.

I know.

I rationalize this with my growing up on a farm and parented by children of Depression-era grandparents. We rinsed out and reused Ziploc bags. Too short jeans became summer cut-offs. Gardening, preserving, and canning were all-hands-on-deck food cost savings (and delicious, well except for the cabbage) rituals. Waste and discard were taken very seriously. And while I am ever grateful for instilled values of stewardship, gratitude and hard work, it’s challenging because seared into my habits are…

I might need it.

I might use it.

I remember when I got that.

What will they think if I get rid of it?

Like stuff, our work and growth as people requires inevitable letting go too. Just as the snake or iguana sheds its skin, we too outgrow ways of being, thinking, responding, choosing, and leading.

Our capacity to reinvent, create, or try something new necessitates available space in our minds, hearts and schedules that we must ensure is not filled with the inactive, redundant, or not useful.

Many of my clients seek coaching and consultation for this exact reason, though they may not realize it initially. They describe feeling stuck, directionless, unappreciated, and running in circles with no tangible purpose, next step, or forward. Organizations hold tightly to status quo and antiquated leadership styles. As we vision their next several months, inevitably they come face to face with barriers they did not realize were holding them back.

Unhealthy loyalty.

Outdated rules.

Goals from a previous version of self or a 20-year old mission or vision statement that no longer makes sense.

And the extricating begins.

One once-important but no-longer-useful attitude, belief, commitment, defense at a time.

Like the multiple navy blue shirts in my closet (because you can’t have enough navy blue neutral shirts) sometimes the hoarding of ways of being that helped me before are what keeps me from being able to try on new ones.

Such as completionism – I’m working on this one now. Getting stuff done is one of my superpowers, but it can easily take over the rest of my life, or even my identity. (If you haven’t seen my TedX related to this, check it out here!)

So I’m letting go of getting it all done – and more importantly the belief trap that it ever CAN BE all done! Rather, I’m letting things percolate, marinate, rest. And be unfinished.

I encourage you to spend some moments discovering what, perhaps, is ready for your own letting go.

Reach out if you’d like to work on this together- for you, your team, or your organization.

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