“I’ve been happy lately thinking about the good things to come,
and I believe it could be, something good has begun.”

– Cat Stevens, Peace Train

“Need to be in control? Let go of it. Control is an illusion.
The more you seek it, the more it will evade you.”

– James Autry and Stephen Mitchell, Real Power

I recently spoke with someone about coaching. She made a great analogy between coaching and her former role as a midwife. Both are experts in the facilitation of a process. The midwife, as does a coach, listens, pays attention, is there with the client, uses their expertise to help get rid of blocks, determine what is needed to let the natural strength of the client come through and produce wonders! She made a comment about the birthing process that struck me as relevant to the theme for the newsletter and the “renewal” of this season (and yes, it’s relevant to all of you).

She said the birthing process is so amazing and profound because it is when a woman is at her most vulnerable and has to totally surrender and “give in”. It is also when she is at her most powerful and full of strength. It struck me that this former midwife had put into words another law life tries to teach us that applies to many situations we find ourselves in as managers of our employees, our work, our time, our lives. No matter what we’re trying to “produce” the concept is the same. We must “let go,” surrender to truly TAP into our strength and get the most amazing results.

In our logical/business minds these two states are mutually exclusive – totally surrendering, being most vulnerable and being most powerful and full of strength. It seems contrary to what we’re constantly reinforced for. Ever notice the Olympic skaters are often flawless when doing their exhibition skate after the competition? Typically, the more important something is, the more it means = the more control we need, the tighter we need to hang on, the more rigid we are. And it often results in a literal or figurative fall on our butts.

When we tighten up, get more rigid and inflexible, we dilute what we’re truly capable of. Our desire to do well and to have control and focus on a certain, specific result causes the very thing we’re trying to avoid (see last month’s topic on Have Vision, Horsepower Will Follow).

I swam in high school. I wanted to break the school record. I really worked it in practice and felt like I was swimming as I never had, muscles sorer then ever, tried as hard as I could, to no avail. It was so frustrating. “Why try?” I thought, “I’m working so hard and nothing.” Then a shift happened, (the eye of the tiger type thing, oh yeah, I had it) I finally relaxed on breaking the record. I surrendered, I actually physically felt it, and the next race felt like I was in practice, it felt like a warm down. I noticed the feeling of the water, just going with it and had fun. And just for the heck of it looked up at the clock after the race and was blown away to see I had broken the record! I had mentally and physically let go of the “control,” which actually opened me up for better performance.

“In striving for continuous improvement and higher productivity, you can push so hard for “more, bigger, faster” that you diminish your people and impede the results you most desire.”
– James Autry and Stephen Mitchell, Real Power

There’s a difference between surrendering and not trying, to being vulnerable and getting walked on. It’s about honing the skills, continuously learning, being as prepared as you can, working as hard as you can, while at the same time relaxing, being “in the zone,” being open and flexible…whatever you want to call it.

It’s about really listening, really knowing who you are, having a clear vision, knowing what’s important and trusting your gut. Yes, even in business a large part of success is preparedness and faith, knowledge and trusting your gut, the knowing what you control and what you don’t and taking advantage of both (not overcoming one). It’s about balance. It’s realizing that the strength isn’t in having all the answers but being open to them when they present themselves.

“Come to the edge,
no, we will fall,
come to the edge,
no, we will fall,
they came to the edge,
he pushed them,
and they flew.”

– Unknown

Disclaimer (hey if they need on in windshield shades, I need one here): This is a symbolic message, not a literal one telling you to go to the edge of something so someone can push you. I believe you can fly symbolically, but am in no way endorsing your ability to actually fly off the edge of anything!