One of the funniest series of ads on television a few years ago was for the website letgo.com. Imagine the silliness of scenarios like the following:
- The astronaut lugging around an old stereo amplifier in outer space because he’d had it since college
- A woman sitting there staring longingly at her “favorite” pair of red shoes in the closet as her house was burning down around her… even though she’d never even worn them
- A guy dangling by one hand from the bumper of his truck as it teetered on the edge of a cliff… while still holding onto his “lucky” bowling ball with the other hand
In each of these situations, there was another person trying to reason with them, reminding them that they really didn’t need that thing anymore, it definitely wasn’t serving them, and it was time to “let go” (i.e. post it on the website and sell or give it away.)
Of course, those examples are deliberately ridiculous… but if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, aren’t there plenty of things in life that don’t serve us anymore (assuming they ever did,) yet we still refuse to let go?
And just like the main characters in these commercials, don’t we have our reasons which – in our minds – are perfectly logical, rational, and defensible, for why we simply CAN’T (or WON’T?) let go, no matter the cost?
Instead of a bowling ball, maybe you’ve been holding on to
- A grudge
- A bad habit
- A relationship (friendly, romantic, professional or otherwise)
- An excuse
- A fear
- A job
- A belief
It can be even harder when what we need to let go of is something that – at least on the surface – seems good, like when you don’t confront someone or tell them an unpleasant truth because you don’t want to hurt their feelings and are trying to avoid conflict.
But deep down, isn’t that really about protecting our ego by staying in our comfort zone? And in the long run, doesn’t avoiding the truth almost always make things worse?
When is enough, enough?
Our guest this week knows a lot about that.
In this week’s episode of the Speaking to Influence podcast, Renee Williams, Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, shared her experience as a life-long “people pleaser,” and the consequent growing pains and challenges of taking on top leadership roles where it’s simply not possible to make everyone happy all of the time.
Renee and I explored a range of other negative cultural patterns inside many organizations, and how to find alternative solutions to change the culture tide. For example, do people in your organization ever:
- Complain about problems for the sake of venting, without suggesting solutions?
- Fire off a slew of texts, slack messages or other questions without a second thought, expecting near-instant replies, instead of compiling non-urgent questions throughout the day and sending one comprehensive email with timeframes for requested answers?
- Have meetings seemingly for the sake of having meetings, with no clear purpose, agenda or deliverables?
I’m sure the list goes on, but the whole point of this note is NOT to dwell in the negative, but to have a candid conversation with yourself and decide who or what you simply need to LET GO of, and what, if anything, you need to replace it with, in order to create a happier, healthier, and more productive environment for all.
Naturally, communication skills are a big part of this, so if you need a quick refresher on some success strategies for when you DO decide to have some of those difficult conversations, you can always take a look at my TEDxPenn Talk, “Want to Sound Like A Leader? Start by Saying Your Name Right.”
Believe it or not, that video just hit 6.7 Million views! Thanks for continuing to spread the word and, more importantly, the TOOLS for how to be a more effective communicator and inspiring leader.
You are all a part of this journey and I am grateful as always. Please continue to share the link with others you know who might benefit from it.
Our next goal: 7 Million views. (And we’re definitely NOT letting go of that!)