You’ve gotta let go

Contrary to what Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) said – you’ve got to learn how to let go. It is true if you are a parent or if you are a manager. It is true when you look at all those things you’ve accumulated over the years in the shed ‘just in case’.

All the stuff

Looking in the shed you’ll always find lots of useful things

  1. A spare wheel for a bike I owned 10 years ago.
  2. 10 boxes of cardboard in case I move.
  3. A spade which was left in the house when I moved here. Made of two very rusty pieces which used to make a spade.
  4. About thirty inner-tubes for my bikes. Punctured, and waiting to be fixed
  5. About 10 new inner-tubes for my bike to use until I fix some of the previously mentioned 30
  6. A few 12″ nails. Some of them straight.
  7. An old print-writer. I think the last time it worked was in the 50s, and probably then it was regarded as old crap.

And the list goes on. A better list exists for the missus’ belongings. But I’d be dead to list that.

When we moved house last time we ended up with about ten large black bags of clothing for charity. I’d say three were in mint condition. The rest just good. And it’s not like we are big on shopping for clothes. Quite the contrary. Yet we’ve managed to accumulate a nice surplus to requirement.

But such earthly possessions are easy to let go of.

Let your kids fly

Much harder is to let go with respect to your kids. No parent wants to see their child hurt or suffer. But sometimes you have to stay away and let them make their own mistakes, and sometimes suffer the consequences. It is quite a natural process to see your kids grow and have a mind of their own. If you do things right you might even earn yourself the esteemed role of advisor. Meaning they will appear to listen to you, only to ignore your advice. But it’ll make you feel better.

Some parents can let go earlier some later. Some believe that their kids are not ripe enough and so they shelter them and hold them close.

Letting go at work

Oddly enough everyone lets their kids go. More or less. Eventually. But at work many people never let go. Even though our kids mean more to us than our careers we know we have to, and that if we won’t they’ll just cut us off. But at work many people cannot let go.

How do you let go at work? Simple – delegate. Teach. Coach. Advise. To a certain degree – do the same thing you do with your kids. Try to cushion but still let them feel the heat. I’ve encountered many managers who just won’t let go. The result is not just that they are overworked. The biggest impact in my opinion is the lack of motivation amongst their employees. If your manager is boxing you and doesn’t let you learn and experience new things. If she doesn’t challenge you with more interesting or difficult issues, then you are bound to start plodding. And nobody wants a plodder.

In order to let go, to delegate you need to actively decide to do it. Because sometimes it is just easier to do it yourself. To teach someone, to coach, to be ready to take the heat for their mistakes you need time and commitment. To properly delegate you need to shield the person you’ve delegated a task to. They need to feel that they are safe. That though they shouldn’t make mistakes – that they’d have their backs covered by you, just in case they do. That they’d have your full advice and attention to prevent or even fix a problem.

But once you did delegate, once you’ve let go you can stand back and enjoy the view. How people flourish. How excited they get about work. How much more time you have to harass your manager to delegate stuff unto you.

To be a good manager you have to delegate. To be a good parent you have to let go. To find your screwdriver in the shed – you need to throw some junk out. Life’s ain’t easy, is it?


About snailonabike
I cycle, I run, I live, I have a family, I write code for a living, I have an opinion

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