How to combine commitment with flexibility

A cycle path swerves to avoid an unexpected phone box

A fifth type of mis-blink or mistaken thinking that people can fall into during times of change is called Attachment to Outcome.

When times are stable, having a strong emotional attachment to achieving a particular goal can help us to accomplish it. But when everything is changing, no outcome is ever guaranteed. In this case, being overly-attached to an outcome that doesn’t happen is likely to lead to feelings of failure, low morale, and difficulty in moving on.

What we need instead is to find a way of letting go of our emotional attachment to a goal while retaining our absolute intention to achieve it.

The way we achieve that is by knowing our purpose.

When we know our purpose it matters less if circumstances change: we simply look for new ways of achieving the same purpose, then move forward with whichever option works best.

Thomas Edison did this as he tried to invent the lightbulb. Each time he ‘failed’ he told himself:

“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 your larger purpose and seeing each project as one way of achieving that (which might not work) will help you to let go of your emotional attachment to things that don’t turn out the way you want. And yet you can still retain the enthusiasm and emotional engagement that help you get things done. Knowing your purpose also makes your work more fun and more meaningful.

What is the number one priority you are working on right now? How will you feel if you fail to achieve it? Do you know your larger purpose?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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