How to combine flexibility with commitment

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

As leaders we are naturally focused on achieving results. A strong emotional attachment to achieving those results can help us to achieve them.

But in a time of churning, no outcome is ever guaranteed. In that case, a strong emotional attachment to a goal we do not achieve is likely to bring about feelings of failure, low morale, and difficulty in moving on.

In a time of change it therefore becomes useful for us to let go of our emotional attachment to any particular outcome, while retaining our absolute intention to achieve it. It becomes useful, in other words, to be able to say, like Thomas Edison, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Then we can more easily accept the way reality has turned out and move on to our next priority.

The way that we achieve this is by letting go of our emotional attachment to any specific outcome and focusing instead on the bigger picture: our purpose. Then, if the tactical situation changes, we can find a new goal that aligns with that purpose and fits better with the way reality has turned out to be.

In a time of churning, letting go of our emotional attachments to outcomes brings us flexibility to respond to events while retaining our absolute commitment to move forward in line with a particular purpose or direction.

Adapted from Inner Leadership.

Photo By Horia Varlan via

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