“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
– Hermann Hesse
Next week autumn officially starts. It always fascinates me how nature shows us that letting go is needed in order to grow. How symbolic the falling leaves are.
Somehow, most of us find it difficult to let go, even though we know it is part of life and often a necessary part too.
This week I’d like to share a story with you about a training I had many, many years ago. During this training I was taught the importance of letting go in such a powerful way, that it has helped me ever since. Read on for the full story.
25 years ago I was working for a large bank in Holland. Banks back then liked bombarding their young employees with course after course, training after training and presentation after presentation. Mine was no exception. To be honest with you, I have forgotten most of it…
Most, but not all. There was this one trainer, who taught me a lesson that I have taken with me for the rest of my professional and private life and that’s the life lesson I’d like to share with you this week.
Soon after I started working for that big bank, it merged with another big one, so all employees (not just the young ones) were given a training to make us familiar with the new company culture. At the beginning of this training we all got a set of juggling balls and our trainer told us “to do whatever we wanted with these balls for a few minutes”.
I did not like this assignment at all. Much too vague. Much too free. I had no idea what to do and worse…I knew I was bad a juggling. Not willing to lose face, I started throwing these balls in the air, like I saw most of my colleagues do (with different grace and success by the way).
After a few minutes the trainer stopped us and said: “Ladies & gentlemen, I am always surprised what happens when I give this assignment. Even though I tell that you can do whatever you want with these balls, people all start throwing these balls in the air. Nobody, literally nobody, has ever done the following…”
He paused, looked at each of us and dramatically dropped all three balls on the floor.
Letting go, so he told us, is something we are not good at. We rather hold on to things, to situations, to people. We hold on even when letting go is needed to grow, to get further in life.
Of course his message for us was to say goodbye to our “old” banks and embrace the new one, but it is a lesson that applies in many situations. How often do we look back in life and realise we have been stuck in a job for too long? Or in a relationship? How many mums suffer from the empty nest syndrome, because they can’t let go of their children?
Knowing that letting go is the way forward, does not mean it’s always easy. Far from it (see this previous blogpost about letting go of children and parents). That is what the juggling balls have shown too. We prefer holding on, because letting go feels unnatural, weird, uncomfortable. We rather hold on to the known than stepping out of our comfort zone into the unknown. That’s what these balls are symbolic for too:
It really takes balls to let go!
You will understand that this juggling exercise has made sure I have never forgotten how important and how challenging letting go is. Whenever I struggle with it, this training pops up and it really helps me to just do it! Of course I hope that sharing this story does the same for you next time you struggle with letting go.
What is it that you should let go so you can grow?