Why are we always told to solve problems through aggressive action?
Our culture says: be bigger, be louder and dominate to win. Give a rebuttal to that angry tweet! Speak louder in that meeting! Call that person out! Fight back. Stand up. Speak out.
There is a time and place for action. But as Hemingway once said, “never mistake motion for action.” In our hustle-obsessed culture, we frequently forget that doing is not the same thing as achieving.
Sometimes the most powerful response we can have, is to surrender.
Surrender? Doesn’t that just mean “give up?” Hear me out here. Our culture is fixated on effort and overtime. In the advertising business where I work, people brag about hours worked and sleep lost. We wear our sacrifices like badges of honor while we give our attention to the loudest thing in the room. But what if there was an easier way to succeed? One that opened doors seamlessly, cut the drama and jolted you to your own version of success?
This is the power of surrender. The power of letting go and leaning out when the time is right. It’s a skill that all of us are capable of yet few of us utilize. Practitioners of this strategy can change the way they work, think and navigate in different industries.
The most successful people are brilliant at not sweating the small stuff. They focus on the bigger picture instead. Sure, they notice the details, they hear the noise, they observe it all and yet, they sometimes choose to surrender to move forward and win.
Unfortunately, surrender gets a bad rap. Let’s dispel the myth that to surrender is to give up when it’s actually just giving way. Work hard and then let go. Free yourself of the outcome you can’t control. Surrendering is not laziness. Deciding what to not give your mental energy to is something that can boost productivity and sense of happiness – and it can take the toxicity out of work. Surrender is not shying away from opportunity but letting things unfold. It’s about knowing when to act and when not to act.
And surrendering can be completely effortless. You can start now. You don’t have to work hard to let go. You don’t have to try. You can just, well, surrender.
So let’s jump on the swiftest path to success. Let’s let go of what we can’t control so we can move like water around obstacles. Here are the wins you can secure if you surrender, and what that looks like in real life…
Surrender to Win The Long Game: Great leaders have a cool, calm composition on purpose. It’s not that they aren’t affected. It’s not even that they’re especially confident in their next move. But they’re aware of their imperfections, they know when they can make an impact and they know when to be patient. Surrender is not defeat. It’s having foresight and a strategy.
Surrender to Win Politics: Great leaders don’t get bogged down in gossip and complaining because they accept it’s not always personal. They surrender smaller offenses and focus on the bigger picture. Are you wondering why Gretchen got that promotion over you? You both have the same experience and performance level after all. But maybe Gretchen decided to let go and move on when she could have reacted and this demonstrated emotional maturity indicative of stronger leadership.
Surrender to Win Partnership: You work better in teams when you don’t have to win or react all the time. Even if you choose to surrender while your coworkers fight, argue or insist, you’re still playing a long game. And when you do decide to lean in and speak up, your voice will carry more weight. Wait for the right opportunities to take action and secure support and alliance.
Surrender to Win Endurance
Can you imagine what you can do with all the mental energy you’ll have left over? Let go of those first launch failures. You can use that energy to keep trying or to think differently. You don’t need to “build a thicker skin” if everything flows like “water off a duck’s back” for you. You can let go to become more.
Surrender to Win Peace of Mind
Grace comes with letting go. There is an easy joy when you don’t have to be in fight or flight all of the time. You’ll be happier. Aristotle said the goal of life is happiness. He didn’t say it was being right or being loud. Happiness can be experienced while going after your biggest goals. Because happiness and success are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they’re directly related.
Take a breath. Observe. Ask yourself with every action: is this bringing me closer to my most successful self? Is this action going to help me succeed? If not, let it go.
You’ve been trying for a long time. Stop trying for a while and watch what happens.