The Power of Letting Go

Joan Marques - MBA, Doctoral Student
Burbank, California

Some people think it's holding on that makes one strong. Sometimes it's letting go. - Sylvia Robinson

If there has ever been a power that comes suspiciously close to an art, it is "letting go." Mastering this power involves self-respect, resilience, broadmindedness, acceptance, confidence, decisiveness, responsibility, and personality. This incomplete enumeration may clarify why letting go is not easy: Not in business, and certainly not in your private life. A closer look at the abovementioned required abilities to obtain the power of letting go may give insight in the reasons why these skills are so necessary to make "letting go" work.

  • Self-respect should, in this case, be perceived with consideration of Shakespeare's words, "This above all; to thine own self be true." Self-respect is therefore needed for the realization that the release you are about to execute is best for your feelings toward yourself.

  • Resilience is as important as Abraham Lincoln described it when he told the following tale, "It is said an eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him with the words, 'And this, too, shall pass away.' How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!" Resilience is, hence, crucial to be able to continue after the release has taken place.

  • Broadmindedness is required, in order to see the big picture of the overall advantage and the long-term benefit that this act will bring. However, remember too, that "broadmindedness enables you to see both sides of a problem, but not necessarily the solution."

  • Acceptance is in place here, because you will not only have to live with yourself after making and executing your decision, but you will also have to live without the object or person that you released. Release represents a change - and "we cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses." (C. G. Jung)

  • Confidence is also necessary; because you want to be sure that your decision is one you fully support. For that reason, "Speak what you think to-day in words as hard as cannon-balls and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day" (Ralph Waldo Emerson) . Only when you are sure of what you are doing, and only if you are ready to accept all the consequences, should you do it.

  • Decisiveness speaks for itself in this list of qualities: if you are unable to make bold decisions, you will get stuck with unwanted and unnecessary burdens in your life. Anything is better than just hanging in there, for "indecision is like a stepchild: if he does not wash his hands, he is called dirty, if he does, he is wasting water." - African Proverb

  • Responsibility is the driver you need, in order to know why you are releasing this particular person, strategy, company, or object, because you don't want this situation to turn into a disaster for any party - the least yourself. It is also the unlimited strength you will have to rely on, after the release is factual. Remember that "responsibility walks hand in hand with capacity and power" (Josiah Gilbert Holland)

  • Personality, finally, is the overall skill you need in working up the strength to make decisions, bounce back, move on, accept consequences, and mature even further after each release. It is a skill that develops slowly. Actually, "personality is born out of pain. It is the fire shut up in the flint." - J. B. Yeats

    Letting go is not funny. Nowhere. Never. Think of the manager that has to fire a number of his co-workers in the downsizing process of a company, while he knows that all these people have families who depend on their income. Think about the CEO that has to put off a merger, which he knows would have been beneficial to the company, because there are other issues that make it strategically imprudent to be executed at this moment. Think about the man who has to allow the vet to put his beloved pet to sleep forever, because it has been incurably ill for some time now, knowing how sorely he will miss it. Think about the woman who needs to let go of the man she dearly loves, because he turned out to be untrue, unserious, unreliable, or some of the other questionable skills that are so often - justified or unjustified - thrown in the direction of men's heads...

    The real positive outcome of letting go is, that we mature, every time we have to practice it. It is usually accompanied by a variety of pains: growing pains. But in the end it may be worthwhile. Or at least one should hope so...