On the Art of Surrender
Simple things are often the most difficult.
After you remove the outliers, the path to success (in anything) for the rest of us almost always involves a series of simple, but difficult, choices.
One of these choices is especially simple and especially difficult.
It’s the choice to surrender.
It’s the art of opening your hands.
It’s the painful practice of letting go.
To live better, you don’t need tons of money, fame, or respect, you just have to open your hands.
Let go of failure before you fail.
Fear of failure has nothing to do with failure and everything to do with your fear. Failure is just a perspective on a result.
If you let go of failure, the idea of it will have less power over you.
In fact, imagine your worst-case-scenario failure…
It’s really not that bad.
And, is your project, thing, piece, worth it? Is doing it worth the possibility of that?
If it’s not… stop anyway.
Open your hands and let failure fall.
In the end, what you imagine as failure might just be a door to something even better.
Let go of other people’s opinions.
This is a big one. Life can not be lived well when it’s led in reaction to other people’s (perceived) opinions.
First, we don’t even really know what others are thinking. That’s not to say that our mind hasn’t convinced itself that it knows exactly what other people are thinking about you and your work.
Secondly, why does it matter so much? In reality, it doesn’t. What we feel is just the constant itch of our addiction — the monkey on our back named need for approval.
When you open your hands and let go of other people’s opinions about you and your work, you will find a measure of life that you have not yet found.
And your work will be better for it.
Let go of your own unhealthy expectations.
Of course, it’s good to get feedback and constructive criticism from our clients, friends, and mentors. But that’s a whole different thing than the need to be approved by others and, especially, ourselves.
Many of us are our own worst critics.
Like a father that needs and pushes his child to become the professional baseball player that he never was, we push ourselves toward our ideal of who we should be.
We do this because our identity has become wrapped up in what we do and what we produce.
The thing is… it will never be enough.
A full life includes work and projects and creation — but it’s so much more than that.
Simply being alive (assuming you have the basic necessities to live) is a gift that should be shared and enjoyed.
Open your hands and live.
There are many, many things that we hold in our hands.
At times, we’re certain that if this thing fails, if those people think I’m _______________, or if I don’t make this I’m _______________, that life is not going to be all it could be.
In reality, we’re strangling the life out of life.
Keeping your fists closed does nothing but increase disorder, multiply anxiety, and keep you from new, possibly better, opportunities.
I know it’s difficult to live this out. That’s why I started by saying that it’s the difficult things, especially this one, that make all the difference in living a whole life.
Life is more than success or failure, other people’s opinions, or my own, often unhealthy, expectations of myself.
Life is meant for living and that’s what you should do.
Open your hands.
If you do this, I don’t know exactly what will happen for you, but I do know that any life is a lot more enjoyable with empty hands.
If that’s not enough, open hands mean less anxiety which means more flexibility, creativity, and breakthrough ideas.
And, remember, it’s an art. Practice it, figure out what things you need to let go of and what works for you, but most importantly…
Open your hands and see what happens!