A Practice in Surrendering
Sometimes when I reflect upon my own thoughts and actions, I have to laugh a little – that laugh we use to mask critical judgment, the one that says somehow we knew better, somehow we’d been there before, yet here we are repeating the same folly. It seems that it would be infinitely easier to simply surrender to what is, rather than give in to that critical judgment … even if we’re laughing while we do it.
I had many wonderful opportunities to practice surrendering on an early summer family vacation this year. As our family chose not to travel during the early pandemic, forgoing our usual visits to friends in other parts of the country, this was our first vacation in nearly two years. Now that our opportunity had come, we had specific plans and some pretty clear expectations on how our late summer vacation would go.
Of course, as the saying goes, “if you want to make God laugh, make a plan!”
This is certainly a first-world problem, and many people (especially if we include other nations) are battling far greater challenges than their vacations going awry. We are fortunate, just as so many of us are fortunate in our work, leadership and families – yet we still become miffed if the smallest of things don’t go as we envisioned them.
On this recent vacation, I had the opportunity to surrender to unplanned family health challenges, to incredibly rude and thoughtless people crossing our paths, and most of all, to my expectations not always being met.
As leaders in life and business, we have both micro and macro opportunities to practice surrendering. I’m not suggesting we acquiesce too much – that’s a different challenge I’m working on – but rather to practice recognizing when to surrender. Where are the opportunities to not only be present in the moment, but to truly let go of preconceived notions of how things should go? If we can recognize them, we can allow them to unfold almost magically in front of us, allowing for experiences and emotions that were never part of our plan … and thankfully so.
In doing so over a 10-day vacation, I witnessed my son growing and maturing instead of expecting him to behave differently, my wife learning to set boundaries in her personal life and people respecting her without my intervention, and myself actually enjoying the beach instead of fixating on how the ocean is our planet’s toilet and that sand being crystalline silica is a carcinogen (being a native central New Yorker, southern beaches with warm water and hot sand never appealed to me).
Where are you focused on your expectations in your leadership, causing you to miss out on an unforeseen opportunity, potential greater clarity, and an otherwise expanded experience that isn’t centered around “the plan”?