Recently I was at the book store and I came across a magnet that said "Let go or be dragged." It pretty much sums up where I am at with work. A few months ago I made a conscious decision to disconnect from my job. I stopped putting in extra hours on nights and weekends and decided to focus on my identity outside of work.
Over the summer I had some degree of success, but as office politics continue to play out and my workload is increasing, I find myself engaging in old habits. I have started to speak up in meetings and fight the same battles, even though I know things will not change.
What I really need to do is learn to let go. So I bought one of those magnets and stuck it to the metal shelf in my office, where only I could see it. I liked it so much that I went back and bought another one for my co-worker. But I am learning that letting go entails much more than just buying a magnet.
I was talking with a friend about my situation and she asked if I had thought about yielding. "Think about it in simple terms," she explained. "If we all drove our cars around and no one ever yielded to the other person there would be a lot more accidents."
Yielding involves giving up your need to control a situation. It requires that you concede some level of power to another person, or perhaps to the universe itself. At first it may appear to be a sign of weakness, but ultimately it can be a sign of strength.
In terms of my work life, yielding requires the ability to be silent. It is a different kind of silence than merely not speaking. Being in a position of forced silence, where you want to speak up but constantly need to hold yourself back can only lead to frustration. I am trying to cultivate voluntary silence, where I am consciously choosing not to speak. This type of silence is rooted in a strong sense of inner peace and an understanding of what is important in the bigger scheme of my life.
One of the things that is hardest for me to overcome is not the desire to control, but the desire to lead. I see the path so clearly that I am compelled to steer everyone in that direction. But perhaps the path I see is not the only one that will get us to our goal. How would I ever know unless I step back and see what someone else might do?
Another thing that holds me back is my desire to speak the truth, or at least the truth as I see it. Which reminds me of one of my Dad's favorite quotes. "Truth, what is truth? What is true today may not be true tomorrow." I used to see truth as an absolute. That quote reminds me that anything can change over time, even our most heartfelt beliefs. I have certainly experienced that myself over the past few months.
I have been gifted with certain skills, whether it is my vision to see a path laid out before me or my innate ability to organize tasks into a logical progression. But somehow over time, I have let those skills define who I am as a person. Just because I have those skills, it does not mean I need to apply them with an equal level of vigilance to every aspect of my life.
The key is to give myself permission not have all of the answers all of the time. And sometimes even when I think I do have the answer, I can still choose to keep it to myself.