Creating Opportunities by Letting Go

A very wise person in my life (thank you Liz King) shared with me something I carry with me as a mantra: “You only have control over three things in your life; they are your ABC’s. Your Attitude, your Behavior, and your Choices.”

At dinner with friends and colleagues one night recently, I listened as one individual complained about how things had not turned out the way he had hoped, how he had always tried to do the ‘right things’ and he still was not where he thought he’d be at this point in this life. This commentary created an avalanche of conversation among the rest of the folks…..funny, most everyone fell ‘short’ in where they thought they would be or ‘should be’ at this stage in their lives. The ‘could of, would of, should of’ discussion took over the dinner table.

Let’s be honest, this conversation is not unique to this evening – we have all heard it many times over the years; however, I do think everyone is more ‘raw on reality’ given the unprecedented economic conditions and the uncertainty of it all. After all, did any of us think our 401k accounts would be where they are today?! The ground does feel as if it is shifting. Well, as the video, Shift Happens on YouTube depicts in such a compelling way our world is changing. That fact is a constant.

Yet, often, we refuse to let go.

We want that promotion. We want another child. We want to retire by age 55. We want at least what our parents had. We want our ‘plans’ to come through. We want ‘progress’, yet we want the stability of what we ‘know’. Need I go on?

Let’s not be confused, I am all for having dreams – after all, aspiring toward our goals, visions of success, and how to optimally contribute is what it is all about. What I am suggesting, though, is that when tides shift letting go can create unexpected opportunities. We are often just too stubborn or scared to let go of our rigid plans or expectations, or we are too blind to see that a new door is already open for us. Ironically, the new opportunity may be even bigger, better and brighter than the path we were already on. Yet, we get stuck in a victim mentality of what is happening ‘to us’, we wallow in ‘what isn’t’ – and refuse to take back the reins on our lives. We have all been there – some just decide to stay at that party longer than others.

There is a marvelous book written by colleague, David Emerald, called The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic). In his book, David offers a wonderfully wise fable which simply discusses the victim mentality we have all been tempted to succumb to; and how to shift this to a mentality of creating our own reality. How to ‘let go’ of limiting patterns and beliefs, and open the door to our unique destination. I loved this book, as it really helped me to realize – I own my life. No one is doing this to me – I am doing it for myself.

That is it. We don’t control anyone else’s – only ours. We have to ‘let go’ of those things we can’t change – and change the things we can – our ABC’s. It may sound a little like Pollyanna (or from what I am told, a 12 step program). However, to be fair isn’t it often the simplest truths which provide us the sagest guidance? It has certainly helped me let go and begin creating and being in the life I want to live. 

One final point, as our nation faces another transition, we will collectively and individually be asked to consider letting go of certain philosophies – on all sides of the partisan equation.

We may be faced with situations we never thought we would have to face. There will be layoffs, career changes, health insurance scenarios, house foreclosures, and lives facing shifting tides. We will be called to stand tall and strong. We will undoubtedly be walking through new doors. We will not be in control over many of these dynamics. What we will have control over will be our individual attitudes, behaviors – and the choices we make in our lives.

I believe, that realization is more than enough to weather and thrive in this shifting tide; and open our eyes to unexpected doors of opportunity.

9 responses to “Creating Opportunities by Letting Go

  1. Kristin: My mantra has always been brief (very unusual for me to be brief), but very powerful: Let go. Go on. Thank you, as always, for your insight and wisdom.

  2. Kristin, thanks so much for your timely blog. Your words remind me of a book I read recently, “Row Row Row Your Boat” which is more spiritual but also about how you can row your boat in the direction you want to go but the river is working to take you to your highest good- you just need to go with the flow and resist the urge to row against the stream – and as you stated, be open to possibilities. thanks for the reminder!

  3. Dear Kristin:

    After a lifetime of hard-charging and pushing envelopes to achieve my goals and advance, I have recently learned something new from the practice of yoga (note, it’s always “yoga practice” not “yoga perfect”): new positions are achieved and old performances are improved and strengthened not by pushing as hard as you can, but rather by relaxing into the position, giving yourself the time and peace to become what you desire. This may be too woo woo for some of your readers, but it has stood me in good stead. Yoga as a metaphor for life!

    With much thanks to my favorite yogini, Alison Brown (


  4. Kristin,
    Terrific blog! One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned in my adult life is to let go of what no longer fits. It’s a challenge because the familiar FEELS so much safer, and yet it’s so limiting when we don’t let go and move on. In this blog and your last blog on vulnerability, you do a wonderful job of modeling what it is to be a powerful leader, not trying to manage or control anyone’s impressions, but simply speaking your truth. Well done!

  5. Spot on once again! Thanks so much for your contributions to my treasure chest of tidbits that I refer to in order to hang on to my sanity!

  6. Kristin,
    I agree! Opportunities for change and growth are what make life worth living. Being true to oursleves and living with no regrets can bring joy and meaning. I believe that we will not regret our failures and our risks. Those will stand out as moments of learning more about our true path in life.

  7. Kristin–
    What a terrific insight! And, one I needed right at this moment. Expectations are great, after all, that is what keeps us going. But how we deal with what is and what we would like “it” to be otherwise are not always aligned. And, accepting that “what is” is the best there can be at this moment and finding good in it is great forward movement; it certainly results in marvelous opportunities.
    This was my fallback all throughout the Spring while in Latin America and you have just gotten me to come back to it. Why should it be any different for Rainforest Partnership, and me, in the U.S.? Steering a startup nonprofit through these times may require adapting expectations but it doesn’t have to affect the forward movement and accomplishing much regardless.
    I look forward to more insights from you!! Do keep blogging and sharing.

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