For many leaders, being in action is very important. The train of thought is that when you are facing issues, you need to persevere and keep fighting. You will push through in the end by not giving up.
This also applies when it comes to facing your own resistance to situations in your life. You know, those situations where you need to change yourself but you do not want to. Those situations where your natural fight or flight response kicks in.
In this article, we will flip the script and explore a different possibility. What could be different if instead of fighting, you chose to surrender to what is happening in your life?
Surrender may seem like a bad word, especially if you are an action-oriented person. People will often interpret the word as giving up and this may carry a negative meaning for you.
Let me give you a different perspective for fun. A while back, I read a book called "Sailing Home" by Norman Fisher. In one of my favorite parts of the book, he shared an interesting tidbit.
He shared how for some people, their lives feel like they are swimming in the ocean and caught in a riptide. Imagine yourself caught in a riptide, what would you do? You would fight back right? You would try to swim against the current and get out of there. That seems like the natural thing to do.
Instead he proposed, what could be different for you if you surrendered to it and let it carry you? What if you chose to ride it instead of fighting it? What other possibilities could it open up?
Using this story, what if we changed the definition of surrender? What if it wasn't about giving up, but instead about giving yourself up and letting go? Surrender could be accepting what is going on around you instead of fighting it.
Surrender could then be about new possibilities instead of winning and losing. When you try accepting a situation for what it is, you may start looking at it with a very different set of eyes.
How do you do this? Well, for one thing, look at the facts in a situation instead of feeding the story you are telling yourself:
Once you figure this out, ask yourself what it would be like to surrender to the situation.
As I mentioned earlier, surrender can mean different things to different people. Some people hear it as giving up. Think about this for a minute, what would it mean for you to give up?
It could mean you feel resigned in certain situations and “good enough” becomes the new “good”. You stop doing your best work and taking initiative. Or it may mean you need to lay down your weapons, conform and do exactly what people ask of you. Are there stories you tell yourself that make you either push harder or give up?
Think about those moments where you feel overwhelmed at work. What do you do in when it feels like the wheels are starting to fall off?
Maybe you tell yourself you need to do more and keep pushing through. This is only for a short time and you got this, right? The problem is, it feels to you as this has been going on forever. As you do this, you burn more energy and forget to take care of yourself.
How do you feel spending all this time fighting? Are you tired? Angry? Frustrated? What happens to your field of vision at these times in your life? How many possibilities do you see to work your way out of it? You may be too busy fighting and pushing to notice!
The act of surrendering yourself to a situation can feel very unnatural at first. Your natural fight or flight response may be in overdrive and it is difficult to override.
In the moment, surrender can be hard because we are not always aware that we are fighting or resisting. The first step is to try to notice these moments and how it looks when you resist. Without this, it becomes difficult to know when to surrender.
Surrender can also offer you the possibility of being more compassionate with yourself. It can offer you the possibility to be vulnerable and accept your mistakes.
In my life, surrender often allowed me to open myself up to the possibility of delegating more to my team. With clients, it opens up the possibility of things taking more time than planned. It makes it possible for me to laugh and play in situations that would have caused anger in the past.
Do you want to learn something interesting about yourself? Find a situation in your life that you are currently resisting and fighting. What are the facts of the situation? What is your story around it? Accept the facts and let go of your story around it.
Give it a couple of days and take another look at the situation. What new possibilities can you see?
Where are the places in your life where surrender would make more sense than fighting and resisting?