For there to be space for new, the old has to come to an end. You have to let go.
Think back to your playground days. Do you remember the row of rings that many play structures included? In order to get from one end of the rings to the other , you had to let go.
Being shorter than the average bird, navigating the rings was tricky for me at first. It required a certain level of strength, coordination, and the determination to set aside my fears. After all, falling is never fun!
With practice, I was able to find a rhythm that allowed me to move from one end of the rings to the other. As my skills improved, the process was actually fun, and it gave me a new sense of confidence, not to mention I was tickled by my success!
As a leader, you may recognize the gap between where you are now and where you want or need to be, but knowing what to let go of, or what to grab hold of – that’s not always as clear. Facing the unknown is daunting, like the playground rings were for me.
When coaching leaders, I frequently see a similar hesitation to let go and grip the new playing out like this:
• Clinging to outdated missions, visions, or strategies
• Hanging on to old products, programs, or structures
• Focusing on maintaining rather than innovating and keeping up with the times
• Sticking with ineffective processes
• Lingering in outgrown roles or positions
• Continuing to do things the way they have always been done rather than adopting new technology or updating things to adjust to an ever changing world
Until you are willing to let go, you will remain stuck.
And if you continue to hang on to the old while trying to take on the new, you will be stretched beyond your capacity. It’s like hanging on tight to the first ring while simultaneously trying to grab the fifth or sixth ring. Not only will you be stretched too far, you will be incapable of creating any momentum to move forward. In essence, you will be stuck.
Growth happens when you are consistently moving forward. So do results. Are you getting the results you desire?
Endings are hard. Letting go is an ending… or it can be a brilliant new beginning!
There are advantages to letting go! When you let go, you…
1. Maximize your time and energy
Leaders are sharp individuals with a plethora of interests and talents. When you combine those qualities with a drive to make difference it can add up to taking on more than you can realistically handle. Oh, you might keep up the illusion that it is all working, but I guarantee it is taking a toll on the quality of your work, not to mention stealing your joy.
To truly make a difference, it is necessary to limit your responsibilities so that you can maximize your efforts. The less you focus on, the greater your impact. Any time you take on something new, you must consider what you need to let go of. If you don’t, you will inadvertently dilute your efforts.
What are your strengths? Where can you make the most significant difference in this season? What do you need to let go of so you can focus on those areas?
2. Appeal to the right people
It is tempting to want to appeal to the masses; to cast a wide net. Your big heart may even struggle with leaving certain people out.
I’ve wrestled with this myself. What if narrowing my coaching niche to leaders causes me to miss coaching opportunities? I confess… it can trigger a little fear! What I have discovered is that by limiting myself to leaders and making them my target, I attract more of the type of clients that I am ideally suited to coach – Leaders…
• in the workplace, including for-profit and not-for-profit environments
• in ministry
• who are entrepreneurs or solopreneurs
• dealing with chronic illness
When I try to appeal to everyone, I actually dilute my efforts and appeal to very few.
Turning potential clients or customers away is never easy. It takes courage and confidence, as well as the realization that I am doing a disservice to those who don’t fit my target. By narrowing my focus, I encourage those outside my target to find coaches that will better serve their needs.
As a leader, how are you attempting to appeal to the masses? Who is your ideal target client, customer, or market?
3. Silence the imposter inside
Attempting to make a difference often requires that you try new things and take on new roles. A pattern I frequently see in working with leaders is the inability to let go of how they have always seen themselves so that they can fully embrace the role they are currently in. I see new business owners who can’t shake their mom role, recently promoted leaders who compare themselves to other more experienced leaders and are acutely aware of their lack, or those fresh in a job that have invested years studying for only to feel like a fake. That’s imposter syndrome!
As long as you keep clinging to your former self, it will be impossible to thrive in your present role. You will still feel like an imposter despite your education, credentials, experience, strengths, or talents.
If you find yourself suffering from imposter syndrome, you are not alone. It is a feeling everyone has at one time or another, so acknowledge the feeling and remember that no one is perfect – everyone is a work in progress including the most experienced. Failing is just part of the process. Focus on learning and growing from your mistakes.
You have experiences and qualities that enable you to bring a unique perspective to the table, so don’t minimize what you have to offer! Don’t compare yourself to others.
And most importantly, remember that the very best leaders are comfortable with seeking out help! They seek out wisdom from other leaders and they understand the value of working with a coach.
In the end, letting go is about making intentional choices, zeroing in on what matters most, and knowing your limits. When you are able to let go, you are poised to contribute at the highest level and make the most significant difference.
What do you need to let go of?