On Leadership, Control and Moving Beyond the Struggle

Uncaged Bird

I don’t know about you, but I know too many people who are struggling right now. People who are working harder with increased responsibilities and barely managing to maintain the status quo. Organizations are doing more-and-more with fewer-and-fewer resources.

And a number of people who are un- or under-employed is staggering.

Deepening the Struggle

I also see the typical response when things don’t look as peachy as they once did—people tend to go to super human lengths to recreate what once was. They go head down, nostrils flaring, uber-determined with stress hormones raging and EI capacities being taxed.

Paradoxically, in our attempts to recreate the old, recapture the past, or repair the present, we miss opportunities to explore the future, create anew or experience the emergent. Our biggest challenge when time get tough is to not become tough in the process.

Opening The Cage Door

By staying true to a few core principles of learning, transformation and change, you can free yourself of the need to control the present in ways that open up the future.

1) There are no mistakes, only lessons

Stop kicking yourself about what you could have done, did or didn’t do.  Instead ask what do I need to learn from this experience?  Perhaps it’s self-compassion, forgiveness of others, the need to let go of ego, to learn a new skill/career, or to find the courage to otherwise move forward.

2) You can put yourself down or you can lift yourself up

Lifting yourself up is not suggesting that superhuman efforts are the key nor does it suggest that you deny reality.

Instead ask this:

  • What do I have going for me right now? 
  • What core strengths/beliefs/relationships will get me through?
  • On what can I focus right now to get my next step going in the right direction?

3) Remember working harder does not equate to working smarter

Another oft-mention cliché also relates: What got you here, won’t get you there.  Here’s a painful sign that you’re there—your struggles, the work and/or the demands seem insurmountable. Super human attention to the things you’ve done in the past just aren’t cutting it.

You’ve reached a liminal space (a place where you don’t have the answers and the old ways just don’t work).  Good news!  It is the birthplace of the capacity to let go and a source of insight, significant aha’s, and new ideas.

Ask yourself this:

  • What messages am I not hearing? 
  • What do I need to do to silence the unhelpful messages that you are sending yourself so that the future can speak?
  • How can I be still and really discern what I am hearing?

4) Lean back

A recent HBR Daily Stat noted that distance makes a task seem easier.   Physical distance from a complex task increases psychological distance and makes the task seem less difficult.

In what way can you distance yourself from the current challenges while still keeping your thinking about the future and how to make it happen on the agenda? 

  • A vacation?
  • Meditation?
  • A night away?
  • A walk in the park?

5) Experiment

Play with new choices, do something different, act on a dream.  Why not? All-consuming dedication to any task tires the mind, body and soul.

Novelty does the opposite; it helps you recharge.

And, attention to novel experiences can help uncover new ways of seeing the world, which sparks new ideas, which can open up new avenues.

The list above provides five strategy ideas for letting go of angst and toil and letting in new perspectives, ideas and futures. What other principles and/or practice would you recommend?


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Rosaria Hawkins
Rosaria (Ria) Hawkins, PhDis President of Take Charge Consultants
She helps organizations build mindful strategies to ensure long-term success
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Image Sources: api.ning.com

L2L Contributing Author