Let it go

I read a very interesting article this morning about how we need to let go. It was an article written by a mother of 3 talking about how she lets her husband go on solo vacations with their children — even if one at a time and she urged all her readers to try it. It was interesting because she talks of letting go and still referred to what she did as something she “allowed” her husband to do. As a parent, I am guilty of this too. I don’t “let” my daughter do a lot of things — no running on the road, no ball pits, no jumping, no screaming, no stepping on things etc. Some of it is for discipline and manners, some of it is my own personal fear of germs and infections but a lot of it is not wanting to let go. Wanting to protect her or bringing her up as I see fit.

She can do it…if you only just let her!

Control is the most reassuring of things a lot of people have in their lives. I don’t allow myself to drink more than a certain limit and I have never done weed/ pot/ hash or anything else out there simply because I am terrified of letting go. I don’t want my mind to take over. I want to manage it and be in charge. Don’t get me wrong — this isn’t an article urging you to try all the substances out there. Should you choose to do so, that’s on you.

I am writing this to urge myself and all others reading this to just let go. Sometimes, it is well worth the initial discomfort around the idea. When you relish having control over some of the fundamental parts of your day, that control spills into work and you want everyone in your team to adopt your style of working or do as YOU deem fit. There are still some traditional set ups where this may work and be accepted quietly. But with the work environments changing rapidly around us and flatlands coming in to play, are we doing the right thing to encourage our teams to perform at their potential if we don’t relinquish control?

My most recent work experience was that of a control freak of a boss who would even go so far as to dictate the color of our tables in an excel sheet with a consolidated report for her reference. The report wouldn’t even be going out to other audiences but she wanted it done in a certain way just so she would find it pleasing or easy to read. I worked with her for 4 long years. I learnt a lot from her but I also learnt that such control results in the slow but inevitable redundancy of the individuals in the team which in turn results in that one person becoming indispensable. My tipping point was when she once asked me to look at a presentation she made, follow the grid patterns and spacing so that it comes out as perfect as “she envisions it” implying that her way is the most perfect way there is.

What happened with the boss you ask me? I quit. I was still mildly aware that my brain was being made redundant there and I don’t think I was OK just making some money at the end of the month. I wanted to be useful. Useful because I made sense; my inputs mattered and what I did was a meaningful value add to the people I supported. I am now working in a place where I am slowly taking the ropes and actually making decisions on my own. I’ve been here for 4 months and am only now slowly taking baby steps towards gaining confidence and actually questioning decisions.

The people here are asking me for my opinion and then waiting on me to respond. Not rushing me, not tutting me into speaking sooner and just listening to me. They do question what I suggest if they are confused or have differing opinions but they ask me for inputs. It is unbelievably refreshing and is also stressing me out a little bit now given I haven’t “spoken” in 4 years. I hesitate, I pause, I read body language but I am learning.

I write this in the hope of reaching other “bosses” or tenured folks in teams who are finding it hard to relinquish control. Let your child walk, she may stumble and fall but she will rise and move on. She needs to go through that experience else what you tell her may not stick and guide her through. Take those baby steps and eventually take that leap of faith. Nothing bad ever came out of letting go a little.