As we move into the new year, you hear a lot about setting goals and New Year’s resolutions. That has never been something I do. My experience has been a lot like many people; you start off strong, but then when the results are not seen, the energy changes.
You end up feeling defeated or even hopeless. Instead, my New Year’s resolution is really about the act of surrender.
I have struggled with the word surrender. As a child, I remember sitting in church on Sunday mornings and listening to the minister encourage listeners to surrender. Sermons on this subject always rubbed me the wrong way, because I interpreted it to mean you had to give up. Something in me just railed against this kind of belief system. As I have matured, the context in which I define and understand the meaning of this word has developed.
Webster’s defines surrender as: to yield or hand over power to another, to resign, to cease resistance.
When we are first taught this definition, it is usually explained in the context of a battle or war. Depending on the situation, surrender is often seen as a sign of defeat and weakness, therefore, not associated with a positive experience. However, there is a bigger context for the word that is not taught enough in our society.
Surrender is also about getting out of our own way, or giving over, instead of giving up. It is about recognizing the need to let the picture develop over time, much like a painter working on canvas or a dancer choreographing to a piece of music. The painter and dancer both have an idea of what they want to create, but they also surrender to the moment and allow what comes to them to evolve on the canvas or on the dance floor. When this process is allowed to unfold, the final product may look quite different than the artist’s original idea. This is not a failure, it is recognition that the initial vision was too small, and the experience of the moment was needed to expand the picture.
Part of our struggle and confusion is we are taught to set clear goals. If you want a house, a new career or a better relationship, the way to get it is to clearly envision what is wanted in order to program the mind to achieve the goal. This is a powerful tool and one I teach, however, there is another dimension to the visioning process. The other dimension is the aspect of surrender. Once the picture is created, it must be held with a light touch. not a smothering grasp.
While venturing down our purposeful paths, we have a tendency to get too attached to plans, ideas and people being a certain way. Then when things do not go our way, we try to control and fix them…to bring them back into alignment with our original picture. The art of learning to let go of controlling outcomes, and instead allowing the picture to evolve over time is what surrender is all about.
This may sound relatively simple in theory, but when the picture imagined turns out to be vastly different than reality, it can really throw one for a loop.
I began working for myself many years ago. To say I have become intimately familiar with the act of surrender is to put it mildly. I think it is a continual process that occurs in varying degrees. I also believe the ability to surrender has been one of the key reasons I have been successful in my business. I recall many years ago hitting a big block in my business. I was working hard, but things did not seem to be flowing. In truth, I had thoughts that this was not the right career path, and I should change directions. Those thoughts brought with it the fear of “I will have to start all over again.” Just considering the idea seemed paralyzing.
I then recognized I had become too attached to the business looking a certain way. I was following my original vision, but in doing so I had put on blinders. I was not giving the vision room to breathe and expand; therefore, the business could not breathe and expand. Once again I surrendered my attachment to a certain picture in order for a new picture to evolve, and things started flowing again.
Remember when you set your goals, allow room for them to breathe through the act of surrender. When you hit that wall, and you feel like you want to quit, a great question to ask yourself is:
What do I need to surrender to move forward again?