Combining commitment with flexibility

Cycle paths curve around an unexpected phone box

Another type of mistaken thinking (or “mis-blink”) that people often fall into during times of change is called “attachment to outcome.”

When we are focused on getting the results we want, a strong emotional attachment can help us to succeed. But when everything is changing, no outcome is ever guaranteed. If we somehow fail to meet a goal that we have a strong emotional attachment to achieving then this can bring about feelings of failure, low morale, and difficulty in moving on.

The alternative is somehow to let go of our emotional attachment to achieving a goal, at the same time as holding on to our absolute intention to achieve it.

We can do this by focusing on the bigger picture. If we know the purpose of what we are doing then if circumstances change and our original objective becomes impossible, it becomes easier to look for new ways of achieving that same purpose.

This is the attitude that enabled Thomas Edison to invent the lightbulb. Each time he failed he said:

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

And then he moved on to his next attempt.

In a time of churning, knowing our purpose helps us let go of emotional attachment to an outcome. This brings us flexibility to respond to events while remaining committed to a particular direction. It’s more fun, and we get more done.

When you fail to achieve something you set your heart on, how long does it take you to recover? How clear are you on what your personal purpose is?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building emotional engagement and inspiration during times of change. Buy the Book

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