Adapted from the book UNLEASHED: Dominate Your Limitations, Break Through Your Barriers, Live An Extraordinary Life available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle.
It’s a crisp January 1st morning; the temperature is somewhere in the neighborhood of four degrees (Fahrenheit). Just outside the window, I am looking at the snow-covered peaks that hover above Pagosa Springs, CO. It is a beautiful first day of the year. I know that I am not alone in how I feel about the first of the year, but I LOVE IT! I have always been a raving fan of the new beginning that a new year provides. In many ways, it feels like a clean sheet of paper on which to write a greater story for my life. It is an empty canvas that waits for me to take a brush and color it, thereby beginning to paint my own masterpiece. A new year is the dawn of a new adventure with many opportunities and challenges awaiting my first steps. I love new beginnings, don’t you?
I spent some time during the last few days reflecting on the previous year. Without going into the details of it, it was a profoundly amazing year for my family and me. We took bold new steps in the pursuit of new dreams and transitioned from a career that we loved to a new one that we love even more. It is truly amazing what can happen in one year’s time. In my reflections regarding this past year I found myself grateful; grateful for the favor and rapid development of our new pursuits, for old and new friends, for the life I have lived. I even found myself grateful for the inglorious parts of my journey.
When I say inglorious, I am talking about the parts of my story and experiences that are less than glamorous, less than successful, less than stellar, less than what I would have wanted them to be. Like you, my story has pages that are filled with failed attempts, pain, struggle, and disappointments. As much as I want my story to be one long string of successes, it’s not. It is much more a synthesis of both success and failure. What I find most difficult to deal with are my inglorious moments of failed attempts, bad moves, and poor performance. I know that I am in a long line of people who if they were honest would say the same, but fumbling the ball is very difficult for me to process.
“Everyone has a chapter or two in their book that they don’t want anyone to read.”
My personality profile shows that I am someone who likes to win and who typically wins big, so any losses are completely devastating to me. When I misstep, or fumble a decision, or react poorly, or blow it, it leaves me feeling wrecked. In all fairness, I am glad that I am at a place in my life where I am aware of and acknowledge the “not so pretty” realities of my life. However, I often take them too far and hold on to them for too long until they become paralyzing memories that I replay in my mind over and over and over again. I can lament and agonize over my own failures to such a degree that it affects my productivity and performance in every arena of my life, and I spiral into self-loathing. The solution I have discovered and that I make every effort to live by is found in six words: let it go, and move on. These words have far greater power than we can imagine if we will embrace them and live by them.
“Six of the most powerful words that will fuel your success: ‘Let it go, and move on.’”
I recently met with a high-profile executive who has led his business with great success. He has a very disciplined leadership practice and is fully leveraging every opportunity of the market they serve. While everything on the surface is progressing quite well, he struggles with some unresolved parts of his life story. He was holding on to some things that he just needed to let go of and move on. What he held onto wasn’t ever going to be fixed or resolved or restored, for that matter. Instead of perpetuating the problem through repeated regret, there are some things that can only be resolved when we decide to just let it go and intentionally move on.
I coach a number of people who struggle with the same issue: we (including me) keep holding on in hopes of turning a failure into a success, or turning a defeat into a victory, or fixing what is broken. We spend exhausting amounts of time and energy trying to get it right or to make it right when there are some things that you can’t fix. Sometimes it’s irreparable because it involves other people who don’t care to cooperate. Other times the proverbial milk just cannot be put back into the bottle. In any case, we must learn to recognize when it’s time to “let it go, and move on.” If it can be fixed or righted, then by all means, make every effort to do so. But when it becomes obvious that the effort is futile or unproductive, and it is simply perpetuating unnecessary pain and problems, do what needs to be done and let it go; move on.
“There are some things that will never be made right, so give yourself permission to move on.”
As I launch this new year, the sun is shining and glistening on the snow. I have an empty canvas inviting me to paint a masterpiece, but to do so I have to let a few things go and move on. There are some things that I cannot fix, I cannot repair, I cannot redo, I cannot undo, I cannot make right, despite focused effort and intent. So I say to the inglorious parts of my journey, “Thank you for teaching me, molding me, and shaping me; but today, the first day of this new year (or whatever the date is when you are reading this), I am letting go and moving on.”
I am letting go of regret, self-loathing, shame, and blame so that I can embrace what is yet to come. The future is bright, just like the sun is shining and the snow is glistening outside of my window. I will not let the inglorious parts of my past nor the opinions of others hold me prisoner. I am liberating myself from what I cannot change to live a life of unleashed greatness. And I encourage you to do the same.