I left my corporate job six months ago to set up my own executive coaching and consulting business. In some respects, this is one of the bigger changes I have made in my life. A decision I had agonized over and considered for a while. As I look back on that decision and what has transpired since, a very relevant question comes to mind. What am I willing to let go of?
This is an obvious question in my situation, but I think it is a question that is relevant for each of us every day. I consider myself a change oriented person, I like change, I like to explore new things and feel I get bored easily. This is not what I am talking about. These types of changes are easy for me because they are familiar and comfortable, what I like to do. Contrast that with a different question. What am I attached to that I am afraid of giving up?
Our Stories Are Powerful
As an executive coach, I have the privilege of helping my clients observe and come to terms with the things they hold to be absolutely true, which in reality are just their stories. These are their interpretations of how the world works which have become fact in their mind. For example, when you observe someone attached to a point of view that you know to be flawed in some way. Regardless of how you try to explain a different perspective, they are stubbornly attached to their point of view because it is their truth. In case you are feeling pretty smug right now, recognize we all do this.
Why do we do this? Why do we fall in love with our own way of seeing the world? I believe it is our unconscious desire for certainty, to control our lives, to reduce risk.
The Illusion Of Certainty
This is one of life’s many paradoxes, we have an innate desire for certainty and control, and yet we live in a world that is constantly changing, is increasingly complex and unpredictable. By clinging on to the world of what we know, the illusion of certainty, we are constraining ourselves to playing a very small and potentially risky game.
So what is the alternative? Give up everything we know and start over? Of course not, ask a different question. What am I willing to let go of?
I’m not advocating taking huge risks, instead looking for things where we can push the edge of our comfort or learning, for example:
- Am I willing to let go of my pride by admitting I don’t know and asking for help?
- Am I willing to let go of my self-confidence and try a course of action that I don’t believe in for the sake of learning something new?
- Am I willing to let go of my feeling of comfort to attend a networking event even though I don’t enjoy new social situations?
Looking back on my own experience since I left the certainty of my corporate job, I let go of many things that defined my daily world. At times it has been an emotional roller coaster, with emotional highs and lows. I also realize I have learned more over this time than I had in recent years and with it I have gained an increased sense of possibility. At the same time, my desire for certainty is alive and well, it is easy to get very comfortable with my new situation. At least I know there is an alternative, a question I must hold out in front of me.
What are you willing to let go of?