I love the movie “Free Solo,” a documentary about the climber Alex Honnold and his climbing of El Capitan in Yosemite national park. Oh, did I mention he does it without any ropes or protective equipment?
El Capitan is a 2,000 foot sheer rock face that is only climbed by the most elite climbers in the world, and that’s with ropes.
One of the things that Honnold says in an interview is that he likes to set really big goals for himself, but then he adds that he holds them loosely. He doesn’t get attached to them… “Big goals, loosely held.”
If you watch the movie, Honnold does climb El Cap without ropes, but he does not force it. There are multiple scenes where he starts out, but when he feels like something doesn’t feel right – his body doesn’t feel strong, the weather is too humid and he can’t grip the rock – he backs off and comes back another day.
He knows the stakes are high, because one slip is death. But how many times do you try to force things to happen on your terms, even if there’s an inner feeling that the timing isn’t right? And what happens when you do that?
A lot of us in business leadership positions can appreciate the desire to set really big goals and to be ambitious. But we can also find that those same goals, especially if we encounter stress and resistance, become a source of frustration and overwhelm.
As Bono puts it, “ambition bites the nails of success.”
You will encounter many, perplexing paradoxes on the contemplative leadership journey. A paradox is when two things that seem contradictory, or incongruent, are both equally true. Paradoxes are scary, they scramble your rational brain.
In fact, I think this is one reason why so few leaders are willing to set out on the journey, but the reward is so great for those who do.
Today I want to talk about the paradox of being totally committed to big, scary goals, while also being interiorly detached from how, when, or where they come about.
If you’re growing as a leader, or growing a business or other organization, then you know that you need to set ambitious goals. At the same time, the relentless pursuit of bigger-and-better-at-any-cost can become a driver of perfectionism, frustration, stress, and eventually burnout. Not to mention ruined lives, addiction, or broken marriages.
In pursuing big goals you encounter external resistance and challenges. This is actually a good thing, because it means you’re being a leader – congratulations!…
AND at some point every great leader recognizes that the biggest obstacles are interior. They are the fears and resistances inside our minds and hearts that sabotage our success – “ambition bites the nails of success.”
But in a daily centering practice you learn an essential skill as you observe those resistances coming up within yourself – that skill is detachment.
Detachment is a spiritual capacity to simply observe your inner world (like thoughts, feelings, memories, emotions, that constant inner dialogue and critic) and your outer world (other people, data, etc.) without getting caught up in it. Without becoming addicted and attached to needing to have the outcome in the way you think it “should” happen.
Now, detachment is not apathy, it’s not laziness, and it’s not that you don’t care. In fact, it’s hard work – maybe the hardest work you will do as a leader.
But it’s detachment from needing to impose your ego, your way, your narrow set of assumptions, onto the situation.
And here’s the paradox of Centering for Wisdom. When you can be both fully committed to big, ambitious goals…AND…have that kind of inner detachment, you are allowing the growth to occur without forcing it to happen on your terms.
And guess what? The outcome is better.
On a spiritual level, you’re allowing God to guide the process (and God’s perspective is always bigger than yours).
On an inter-personal level, you’re allowing the full insight and wisdom of your team to emerge and contribute to the solutions (solutions that wouldn’t happen if you just impose your way onto every project).
So, when you can hold fierce commitment (yang, masculine energy) and inner detachment (yin, feminine energy) together, you get a more cohesive team, better communication, more possibilities for discovering innovations to serve your clients better…AND…you get these things with less stress and effort on your part! How sweet is that?
Don’t get me wrong, when it lines up like this it looks simple. And it is simple, but it’s not easy.
It’s not easy to face your inner attachments and addictions to what success has to look like, and then to let that go. But in doing that, you allow something so much bigger and beautiful to emerge than you could ever accomplish alone.
This contemplative leadership journey is a challenge, but fortunately it’s not as scary as free climbing El Capitan without ropes.
If you’re ready to up-level your leadership, cultivate interior detachment, and start practicing Centering for Wisdom, then I want to talk with you.
Click here to sign up for a time slot that works for you. Apply – Thomas J. Bushlack
I’ll call you at the time you selected and we’ll have about a 45-minute conversation to get really clear on what your next steps are to keep pursuing big goals, but loosely held (with detachment).
It’s totally possible to lead this way, but it won’t happen unless you take action and change your inner habits. Stop biting the nails of your own success. Click that link right now and I’ll talk to you soon!
P.S. Want to learn a bit more before booking your call? Watch my free Masterclass on the 5 shifts you need to make to get back to center – https://joinnow.live/s/7C2V1O
P.S.S. Here’s a teaser…