Thursday, July 30, 2009

Letting Go

I have this great poem called “Transitions” that talks about how the trapezist must let go of the one trapeze in order to grab onto the next. And, in between, there is a moment where they are holding onto neither but instead flying through air. It’s the same in rock climbing. Often, you have to let go of one hand or foothold and commit to the forward movement in order to reach the next. There’s also the story of the Spanish Explorer who burnt the ships in the harbor once they reached the new world. There was no going back… only forward.

What is it about letting go?

Letting go of long held beliefs or desires. Vigorously staked out positions on an issue. Letting go of what we wanted it to be and embracing what is. I think it is about grieving what isn’t, or hasn’t, or didn’t, or couldn’t. It’s not about fixing a blame or needing to be right… I think it’s about accepting what is and choosing the next step. Because, in the end, every step we take is a choice. And, that choice can be driven by the past or the things we haven’t yet let go of, or it can be driven by the present, and the maturity in which we live in this moment.

A bit esoteric today. Just spent a couple hours surfing with my best friend from college. Reflecting on a 30-year friendship is cool.

So, what do you want to let go of, or accept?

Monday, July 6, 2009


A while ago I was speaking at a retreat for couples, sharing some clean communication skills and how to clear issues. Only, the issues they were bringing up in practice were, well, bland at best. Nothing juicy. And, I like juicy. I mean, if we’re going to work, let’s WORK!

So, I asked if one of the women would come up front and role play with me. I’ll be the husband coming in from work and have an issue, I said. She said, okay.

And, off I went. Only, I kept going. What was supposed to be a role play all of a sudden was waaaaay tooooo real. I was having a ball! My dark little internal predator was out to play and we were letting this poor woman have it!

She was a little shocked. And then, the other women in the audience came to her defense. “What was that?!?” they cried. I took a step back and breathed.

“You weren’t clearing an issue… you were on the attack!”

The men came to my defense. “What’s the problem?” they said. And the room erupted.

Finally, I was able to restore order and get a word in. “Okay. I’ll own that I was on an emotional roll. There was more going on than just this moment. And, I’ll ask everyone to own your judgments of the scene as just your judgments. I’ll own my part. You own your part, okay? And now... everyone breathe.”

So, here’s the deal. In a nano-second, some old emotional baggage found a crack and leaked out. My internal predator was driving my bus. So, instead of clearing an issue and talking about the emotions involved, my emotions were driving the bus in that moment. It's the difference between "being in" my emotions versus "talking about" my emotional experience.

When I stepped back to breathe, I was able to ask myself “What’s really going on here?” and own it and bring it out into the light. No defensiveness, just curiosity.

Later in the session, we all had a good laugh about how our emotions can sometimes drive the bus. A teachable moment indeed.