Fame and accolades always go to those who are out there doing stuff. Taking action. Making things happen. I don't have a problem with that but I'd also like to see attention on those who provide different kinds of role models, not just the ‘achievers’ (even the quiet ones), but those who trust enough to allow success, joy and fulfilment come to them and, in turn, to their beneficiaries.
We all know the value of learning to ‘let go’ and those who’ve tried it will know how difficult it is to actually let go of anything. Whether its a role we’ve outgrown, an old pair of favourite shoes or a toxic relationship, letting go is chronically difficult. The hardest thing of all to let go is our sense of what’s right, and our need to be right. Somehow, there’s always a sense of loss associated with letting go.
So what about the idea of letting come? Mastering the art of waiting.
I’ve let some of the best things that have happened in my life simply come to me and I suspect you have too. Take, for example, my role in an international start-up company. It came after a conversation over lunch where I was asked by a friend how my consulting business was going. Although it was going fine, he picked up that I didn’t sound very excited and enquired what I would ideally like to do. After a moment’s thought, I was surprised to hear myself say that I’d ideally love a global role where I could combine my people skills with international travel. The next day, a friend of his phoned me to ask if I’d be interested in a role offering exactly that. Yes, I had voiced my ideal role and had an interview with the CEO before the job was mine, but I didn't seek it out or chase it down. It simply came to me. In the interview, when the CEO asked how I would go about creating a robust corporate culture across 13 countries, I told him honestly that I had no idea but I would work it out as I got to know the company and the people and let him know. It turned out that’s exactly what he wanted to hear, since other contenders had offered off-the-peg solutions. In a start-up company, he wanted us to create something new together. Let it come, naturally.
This trusting to let things come could be construed as pure luck. But it’s more than that. I’ve seen luck defined as ‘preparedness meets opportunity’. Preparedness results from a lifetime of taking risks, adapting, experimenting, making mistakes and wrong choices and learning from them all. Being prepared also requires creating space for new things. Opportunity comes along every day but even to notice it requires openness and trust to wait and let it come. To capitalise on opportunity requires a clear head and a willingness to act when the time feels right.
A post I saw on Facebook recently is a perfect example, reprinted with author’s permission: “I have a friend who has a very high profile position. We caught up yesterday and she has made a decision to exit the big position. What she said to me was very moving and real. ‘I need to leave to be in a position of not knowing what I will do, who I will be next’. Many women are in this space and when they rise again, watch them soar.”
Patience and the art of waiting can be practiced and honed in small ways, like using the time spent standing in a queue to enjoy having time to yourself and your own thoughts, rather then stressing out wishing you were somewhere else (like further up the queue or in the other queue that is always moving faster).
To quote a favourite author, William Bridges, whose lifetime work was on managing transitions, all there is to do when you’re in the midst of any kind of transition is to “centre yourself and wait watchfully”.
And let whatever is coming come.