Surrender to What Lies Ahead

“Surrender” often implies giving in, or letting go of something that we’re holding onto. When it comes to setting goals and having measurable results, giving up control feels like a loss, rather than a gain. But what if you look at “surrender” as a positive, as a way to accept what’s come your way and as a mechanism to move forward rather than take a step back?

A friend recently sent me an article, “The Most Misunderstood Aspect of Great Leadership” which describes the importance of a leader’s ability to “surrender” and give up control. The writer posits that a leader needs to get out of his/her own way by letting go of control in order to facilitate a more collaborative environment where it’s not all about the leader, but rather his/her team.

As I set my intentions for the New Year, I have been thinking a lot about the interplay between “surrender” and “control.” In religion, the idea of surrender is often associated with giving in to God or the higher powers that exist. Or it refers to the ability of an individual to give into herself and free her thoughts. But in every day life, surrender implies letting go of what you can or can’t control. It does not necessarily mean giving up on an idea, but rather it’s about being open to what the outcome is.

One of my mentors says that the most important thing is to “show up,” “tell your truth,” and “don’t be committed to the results.” But what’s the delicate balance between setting a goal and being committed to the outcome? Isn’t that the whole point of setting goals?

The answer to me lies in “surrender.” I think it’s important to set goals for the New Year, but I acknowledge that I can’t control what will happen once I set them in motion.  Trying to control the outcome is like trying to force a relationship when you know it’s not right. Joseph Campbell says “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

The athlete inside of me still wants me to set stringent goals and achievements to mark my success and the coach inside of me wants me to remain accountable to take action on these goals. However, while I acknowledge the task in front of me, I surrender to what lies ahead and embrace what’s in front of me: life!

Shout-out to Shelley Danner, who sent me the original article on Leadership… and to Mel Miller who inspired a conversation about the idea of surrendering/letting go in order to move forward.  Thanks to Nick Warren (of Perfect Fuel) whose conversation over delicious brunch about his goals opened my eyes to the possibilities… and to Marco Ambrosio for the comments and catchphrase!