It’s been a tough week. Our son – the most remarkable, capable, smart, fun, likable, insightful young man I know (a completely unbiased assessment) – moved into his first apartment. While I’m bursting with pride that he’s so well-prepared for and excited about the next phase of his life, it’s a loss… and it changes everything.
“We’re wired for attachment in a world of impermanence,” according to Robert Neimeyer, a psychologist at University of Memphis. “How we negotiate that tension shapes who we become.”
Perhaps the key to life is gracefully accepting the impermanence. Perhaps it’s the key to business success as well.
Excessive attachments in today’s warp-speed world shape not only who we become – but what our organizations become. Could ‘holding on’ be holding us back?
Holding on to ideas… Becoming attached to one idea, approach, or solution can close the mind to others. Gracefully letting go allows for better approaches and greater collaboration with others.
Holding on to customers… Customer bases are intended to change, yet too frequently we hold tightly to known entities – and known revenue streams. Relationships that linger beyond their natural expiration dates sour, leaving lasting bad impressions.
Holding on to business models… What worked yesterday may not work today, and you’re nearly guaranteed that it won’t work tomorrow. Changing how we do business – adapting to evolving conditions – is essential for survival and success. Exploiting the impermanence proactively offers an unbeatable competitive advantage.
Holding on to employees… A leader’s greatest achievement is developing others and preparing them to move on. Yet, it’s also many leaders’ greatest nightmare. A desire to maintain the status quo translates into a range of machinations (some benevolent – and some heavy-handed) to retain talent that should be released to greater opportunities.
Holding on to what’s known and comfortable is natural, but it’s also limiting. The struggle to maintain what is can compromise today’s happiness and tomorrow’s success.
‘Negotiating the tension’ of our son’s departure from the family home and letting go with grace is easier when I focus on the gifts associated with the change: his expanded capacity, growth, and happiness. Motherly attachment over the past 22 years has shaped who I am… perhaps gracefully letting go will help shape who I’ll become.
What about you? What do you need or want to let go of? What gifts do you recognize in the changes happening around you?
This post originally appeared at Lead Change Group.